Discovering Value in North Dakota Calves: The Dakota Feeder Calf Show Feedout Project

 

Karl Hoppe, Vern Anderson, and Ernie Ward

North Dakota State University Extension Service, Carrington; Carrington Research Extension Center, Carrington; State Bank of Turtle Lake, Turtle Lake

 

Abstract

Cow calf producers want to know the feeding and carcass value of their calves.  Also, cattle producers need to identify superior cattle genetics to remain competitive with other livestock.  The Dakota Feeder Calf Show Feedout project was developed to discover the actual value of beef steer calves.   Cattle consigned to the feedout project averaged 602.4 pounds upon delivery to the Carrington Research Extension Center Livestock Unit on October 13, 2001.  After an average 189-day feeding period with 2.45 percent death loss, cattle averaged 1207.9 pounds (at plant, shrunk weight).  Average daily feed intake per head, as fed, was 27.01 pounds while pounds of feed required per pound of gain were 8.87.  Diet dry matter was 72.8 percent.  The pen-of-three calves averaged 391.4 days of age at harvest.   Overall pen average daily gain was 3.04 lbs.  Feed cost was $0.252 per pound and total cost of gain without interest was $0.423.    The early market group contained 67 percent choice and 93.9 percent yield grade 2 and 3 while the late market group contained 37.6 percent choice and 92.1 percent yield grade 1 and 2.  Profit before interest expense ranged from $66.44 per head for pen of three cattle with superior genetics to a $(82.17) per head loss for poorer performance.  Determining cattle value by feeding performance and carcass characteristics can be accomplished through a feedout project.   

 

I

ntroduction

Determining calf value is a continuing education for cow calf producers.  At time of bull selection, a producer must estimate the type of animal desired by buyers 1 to 2 years before sale.  In regard to premium and discounts in North Dakota, it appears that the live market has varying prices while the meat market has a more stable price.  Consequently, producers are seeking to sell cattle based on the end-value meat price.  In addition, superior, cost effective feeding performance is needed to justify the expense of feeding cattle past weaning.  Since North Dakota feeds are low cost and climate is favorable, low feeding cost per pound of gain can be accomplished.  This feedlot project was supported to provide cattle producers with an understanding of cattle genetics and cattle feeding in North Dakota. 

 

Materials and Methods

The Dakota Feeder Calf Show was developed for cattle producers willing to consign steer calves to a show and feedout contest.  The calves were received in groups of three on October 13, 2001, to the Turtle Lake Weighing Station for weighing, tagging, processing, and showing.  The calves were evaluated for conformity and uniformity with the judges providing a discussion to the owners at the beginning of the feedout.

 

The calves were then shipped to the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center, Carrington, ND, for feeding.  Upon arrival, calves were treated with prophylaxis tilmicosin.  Calves were then sorted and placed on a receiving trial comparing peas and barley as grain sources for cattle feeding.  On November 27, 2001, calves were moved to a high grain diet (72% grain as fed, 84% grain dry matter) containing 63 mcal NEg per pound.  Cattle were weighed periodically and reports provided to the owners.

 

An open house was held on February 15, 2002, at the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center Livestock Unit, Carrington, ND, where the owners reviewed the calves and discussed marketing conditions.  The calves were ultrasounded for backfat and marbling on March 25, 2002 and sorted into early- and late-market groups.

 

The first market group of cattle (82 head) was sold April 9, 2002, and harvested on April 12, 2002.  The second sell group (77 head) was sold April 25, 2002, and harvested on May 3, 2002.  Cattle were sold to IBP, Dakota City, NE, on a grid basis with premiums and discounts.  Carcass data was collected after harvest.  

 

Ranking in the pen-of-three competition was based on the best score obtained.  Overall score was determined by adding the index score for weight per day of age (20% of score), average daily gain on test (20% of score), marbling score (20% of score), and retail product value divided by weight per day of age (40% of score).  The Dakota Feeder Calf Show provided cash awards for the top placing pens of steers.

 

Results and Discussion

Cattle consigned to the Dakota Feeder Calf Show Feedout project averaged 602.4 pounds upon delivery to the Carrington Research Extension Center Livestock Unit on October 13, 2001.  After an average 189-day feeding period with 2.45 percent death loss, cattle averaged 1207.9 pounds (at plant, shrunk weight). The early-sell group (82 head) averaged 1185.9 lbs. (shrunk) at harvest while the late-market group (77 head) averaged 1231.4 lbs. (shrunk) at harvest.  Average daily feed intake per head was 27.01 pounds, as fed basis, and 19.6 pounds, dry matter basis.  Pounds of feed required per pound of gain were 8.87, as fed basis, and 6.46 pounds, dry matter basis.

 

Overall feed cost per pound of gain was $0.252.  Overall yardage cost per pound of gain was $0.088.  Combined cost per pound of gain including feed, yardage, veterinary, trucking and other expenses except interest was $0.423.

 

The number of cattle consigned was 163; 123 competed in the pen-of-three contest.  A total of four head died due to bloat, brain infection, and respiratory distress.  

 

The carcass characteristics were collected and used in calculating indexes for scoring.  The first market group, harvested April 12, 2002, contained USDA Quality Grades at 67 percent Choice and 33 percent Select and USDA Yield Grades at 23.2 percent YG2 , 70.7 percent YG3, and 6.1 percent YG4.  The second market group, harvested May 3, 2002, contained USDA Quality Grades at 37.6 percent Choice, 59.7 percent Select, and 2.6 percent Select and USDA Yield Grades at 31.1 percent YG 1, 61 percent YG2, and 7.8 percent YG3. 

 

Carcass value per cwt was calculated by using the actual base carcass price for either April 9, or April 25, 2002 depending on market group. Grid price for the first market group was $110 Choice YG3 base with premiums of Prime $8, CAB $1.50, YG1 $6.50, YG2 $2.50, and discounts of Select $-4, NR $-7, Heavy $-12, YG4 $-20, and Dark Cutter/stag/commercial $-33.  The second market group was priced at $104 Choice YG3 base with premiums of Prime $9, CAB $3, YG1 $6.50, YG2 $2.50, and discounts of Select $-6.50, NR $-9.50, Heavy $-10, YG4 $-20, and Dark Cutter/stag/commercial $-35.

 

Retail product value was calculated as carcass weight, lb. * percent retail product *(((carcass value per cwt /100)/ retail product yield) / retail product markup) where retail product yield = 0.65, and retail product markup = 0.75.  Percent retail product value was calculated as 0.825 - (calculated yield grade *0.05).

 

Results from the calves selected for the pen-of-three competition are listed in Table 1.  Overall, the calves averaged 391.4 days of age and averaged 1207.9 pounds per head at harvest.   Overall pen average daily gain was 3.04 lbs while weight per day of age was 3.13 lbs.  Overall marbling score was 415.5 or 15.5 percent into low choice/small marbling.  Retail product value averaged $1128.90 per head.  Retail product value divided by weight per day of age averaged $2.88.

 

The pen with the highest combined index score of 3.394.  Although the highest overall scoring pen did not place first in average daily gain, weight per day of age, marbling score, and percent retail product value divided by weight per day of age, the pen did rank first for profit.  Correlation between index score total and profit was high (r = 0.742).

 

Profit or loss was calculated using initial calf price as price per pound, $ = 130.776 (0.06 * initial calf weight).  Profit or loss accounted for initial calf price, feed, yardage, veterinary, freight, brand inspection, beef checkoff, ultrasound and carcass data collection costs.  Interest costs on cattle or feeding expenses were not included in calculating profit or loss.  Final carcass value was assessed using the actual grid pricing for the harvest group.

 

Overall, cattle feeding provided a $(15.57) loss before interest was included.  However, the top pen-of-three calves with superior genetics returned $66.44 profit per head while a lesser pen-of-three calves returned an $(82.17) loss per head.

 

Implications

Superior carcass performance is important for improving calf value.  Feedlot performance is also important for increased weight gain with less cost.  Exceptional average daily gains, weight per day of age, marbling score and retail product value can be found in North Dakota beef herds. Feedout projects provide a source of information for cattle producers to learn about genetics and discover cattle value.

 

Affiliation of coauthors and non-CREC staff:  E. Ward, State Bank of Turtle Lake

 

Table 1.  Feeding performance 2001-2002 Dakota Feeder Calf Show Feedout


NDSU Vice President,
Dean and Director for Agricultural Affairs
NDSU Extension Service ND Agricultural
Experiment Station
NDSU College of Agriculture NDSU College of Human Development and Education