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

 

Progress Report Year 2002-2003

 

Karl Hoppe, Vern Anderson, and Ernie Ward

NDSU Extension Service Carrington Research Extension Center, Carrington

State Bank of Turtle Lake, Turtle Lake

 

 

Abstract

North Dakota cattle producers desire to understand the feeding and carcass value of their calves. Identifying superior genetics is paramount for cow calf producers to remain competitive with other livestock and poultry in the meat industry. The Dakota Feeder Calf Show Feedout project was developed to discover the actual value of spring born beef steer calves. Cattle consigned to the feedout project averaged 589.3 pounds upon delivery to the Carrington Research Extension Center Livestock Unit on October 12, 2002. After an average 194-day feeding period with no death loss, cattle averaged 1240.3 pounds (at plant, shrunk weight). Average daily feed intake per head, as fed, was 30.25 pounds while pounds of feed required per pound of gain were 8.98. Diet dry matter was 72.8 percent. The pen-of-three calves averaged 385.8 days of age at harvest. Overall pen average daily gain was 3.36 lbs. Feed cost was $0.326 per pound and total cost of gain without interest was $0.461. The early market group contained 45.3 percent choice and 42.6 percent yield grade 1and 2 while the late market group contained 48.0 percent choice and 92.1 percent yield grade 1 and 2. Profit before interest expense ranged from $205.05 per head for pen of three cattle with superior genetics to a $40.03 per head for poorer performance. The feeding and carcass value of spring born calves can be determined with participation in a feed out project.

 

Introduction

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- 2 years before sale. In regards 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 12, 2002, 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 25, 2002, calves were moved on to a high grain diet (85.8% grain as fed, 87.6% grain dry matter) containing 62.5 mcal NEg per pound. Cattle were weighed periodically and reports provided to the owners.

 

An open house was held on February 7, 2003, 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 17, 2003, and sorted into early and late market groups.

 

The first market group of cattle (75 head) was harvested on April 3, 2002. The second sell group (75 head) was harvested on May 16, 2003. 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 competitions 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 589.0 pounds upon delivery to the Carrington Research Extension Center Livestock Unit on October 12, 2003. After an average 194-day feeding period with no death loss, cattle averaged 1240.3 pounds (at plant, shrunk weight). The early sell group (75 head) averaged 1205.6 lbs. (shrunk) at harvest while the late market group (75 head) averaged 1274.9 lbs. (shrunk) at harvest. Average daily feed intake per head was 30.25 pounds, as fed basis, and 22.0 pounds, dry matter basis. Pounds of feed required per pound of gain were 8.98, as fed basis, and 6.53 pounds, dry matter basis.

 

Overall feed cost per pound of gain was $0.326. Overall yardage per pound of gain was $0.074. Combined cost per pound of gain including feed, yardage, veterinary, trucking and other expenses except interest was $0.461.

 

The number of cattle consigned was 150 of which 117 competed in the pen of three contest. Cattle were implanted with Synovex Choice at 87 days on feed.

 

The carcass characteristics were collected and used in calculating indexes for scoring. The first market group, harvested April 3, 2003, contained USDA Quality Grades at 45.3 percent Choice and 53.3 percent Select and USDA Yield Grades at 1.3 percent YG1, 41.4 percent YG2, 56 percent YG3, and 1.3 percent YG4. The second market group, harvested May 16, 2003, contained USDA Quality Grades at 48 percent Choice, 49.3 percent Select, and 2.7 percent Standard and 9.3 percent YG1, 70.7 percent YG2, and 20 percent YG3.

 

Carcass value per cwt was calculated by using the actual base carcass price plus premiums and discounts for April 3, 2003, for the first harvest group and May 16, 2003, for the second harvest group. Grid price for the first market group was $124 Choice YG3 base with premiums of Prime $12, CAB $3, YG1 $6.50, YG2 $2.50, and discounts of Select $-8, NR $-11, Heavy >950 carcass $-10, YG4 $-20, and Dark Cutter/stag/commercial $-44. The second market group was priced at $104 Choice YG3 base with premiums of Prime $14, CAB $7, YG1 $6.50, YG2 $2.50, and discounts of Select $-16, NR $-18, Heavy >950 carcass $-12, YG4 $-20, and Dark Cutter/stag/commercial $-43.

 

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 pen-of-three calves averaged 385.8 days of age and averaged 1236.6 pounds per head at harvest. Overall pen-of -three average daily gain was 3.42 lbs while weight per day of age was 3.21 lbs. Overall pen-of-three marbling score was 403.5 or 3.5 percent into low choice/small marbling. Retail product value averaged $1276.63 per head. Retail product value divided by weight per day of age averaged $3.31.

 

The highest combined index score per pen-of-three was 3.510. The highest overall scoring pen did not place first in weight per day of age, average daily gain or percent retail product value divided by weight per day of age and profit, but did rank first for marbling score Correlation between index score total and profit was high (r = 0.8293). Correlation between marbling score and profit was 0.6622.

 

Profit or loss was calculated using initial calf price as price per pound, $ = 98.68387 (0.02565 * initial calf weight). Profit or loss accounted for initial calf price, feed, yardage, veterinary, freight, brand inspection, beef check off, 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 actual grid pricing for the group.

 

Overall, cattle feeding provided a $112.27 profit before interest. However, the top profit pen-of-three calves with superior genetics returned $205.05 per head while a lesser pen of three calves returned a $40.03 per head.

 

Implications

Calf value is improved with superior carcass performance. Feedlot performance is also important for increased weight gain and heavier carcass weights. 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 2002-2003 Dakota Feeder Calf Show Feedout.