Discovering Value in North Dakota Calves -

The Dakota Feeder Calf Show Feedout Project III

 

Progress Report Year 2003-2004

 

Karl Hoppe, Vern Anderson, and Ernie Ward

NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center and State Bank of Turtle Lake, Turtle Lake

 

Abstract

North Dakota cattle producers continue to 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 577.5 pounds upon delivery to the Carrington Research Extension Center Livestock Unit on October 13, 2003. After an average 201-day feeding period with 1.69 percent death loss, cattle averaged 1252.86 pounds (at plant, shrunk weight). Average daily feed intake per head, as fed, was 28.73 pounds while pounds of feed required per pound of gain were 8.85. Diet dry matter was 72.8 percent. The pen-of-three calves averaged 397.4 days of age at harvest. Overall pen average daily gain was 3.24 pounds. Feed cost was $0.317 per pound and total cost of gain without interest was $0.453. Although the cattle were marketed over a 55-day period, marbling scores averaged 415.8 (low choice). Profit before interest expense ranged from $279.69 per head for pen-of-three cattle with superior genetics to a $3.42 per head for poorer performance and -$267.10 with death loss included. 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 experience 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 or four on October 13, 2003 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 corn mixed with field peas, lentils, and chickpeas as grain sources for cattle feeding. On November 24, 2003, calves were moved on to a corn-based 80 percent grain diet. Cattle were weighed periodically and reports provided to the owners.

 

An open house was held on February 6, 2004, 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 23, 2004 and sorted into market groups based on back fat, marbling and live weight.

 

The first market group of cattle (41 head) was harvested on April 2, 2004. The second sell group (80 head) was harvested on May 5, 2004. The third sell group (20 head) was harvested on May 13, 2004 and the last sell group (34 head) was harvested on May 27, 2004. Cattle were sold to Tyson Fresh Meats, 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 577.5 pounds upon delivery to the Carrington Research Extension Center Livestock Unit on October 13, 2003. After an average 201-day feeding period with 1.69 percent death loss, cattle averaged 1252.8 pounds (at plant, shrunk weight). The early sell group (41 head) averaged 1236.1 pounds. (shrunk) at harvest. The second sell group (80 head) averaged 1295.25 pounds (shrunk) at harvest. The third sell group (20 head) averaged 1258.5 pounds. (shrunk) at harvest and the last sell group (34 head) averaged 1170.0 pounds (shrunk) at harvest. Average daily feed intake per head was 28.74 pounds, as fed basis, and 20.9 pounds, dry matter basis. Pounds of feed required per pound of gain were 8.85, as fed basis, and 6.44 pounds, dry matter basis.

 

Overall feed cost per pound of gain was $0.317. Overall yardage cost per pound of gain was $0.077. Combined cost per pound of gain including feed, yardage, veterinary, trucking and other expenses except interest was $0.453.

 

The number of cattle consigned was 178 of which 126 competed in the pen-of-three contest. Cattle were implanted with Synovex Choice at 91 days on feed.

 

The carcass characteristics were collected and used in calculating indexes for scoring. The first market group, harvested April 2, 2004, contained USDA Quality Grades at 60.1 percent Choice or better (including 17.0% Certified Angus Beef) and 39.9 percent Select and USDA Yield Grades at 24.4 percent YG2 , 70.7 percent YG3, and 4.9 percent YG4. The second market group, harvested May 5, 2004, contained USDA Quality Grades at 1.25 percent Prime, 52.5 percent Choice (including 11.25% Certified Angus Beef), 45 percent Select, and 1.25 percent Standard and USDA Yield Grades at 6.25 percent YG 1, 45 percent YG2, and 48.75 percent YG3. The third market group, harvested May 13, 2004, contained USDA Quality Grades at 1.25 percent Prime, 50 percent Choice, 45 percent Select, and 5 percent Standard and USDA Yield Grades at 65 percent YG2, and 35 percent YG3. The last market group, harvested May 27, 2004, contained USDA Quality Grades at 44.2 percent Choice, 52.9 percent Select, and 2.9 percent Standard and USDA Yield Grades at 8.8 percent YG 1, 70.6 percent YG2, and 20.6 percent YG3.

 

Carcass value per cwt was calculated by using the actual base carcass price plus premiums and discounts. Grid prices were: April 2, 2004 - $131 Choice YG3 base with premiums of CAB $8, YG2 $2.50, and discounts of Select $-6, and YG4 $-20; May 5, 2004 - $142.10 Choice YG3 base with premiums of Prime $23.65, CAB $6.12, YG1 $6.50, YG2 $2.50, and discounts of Select $-9.60, Standard $-11.90; May 13, 2004 - $146.72 Choice YG3 base with premiums of YG2 $2.50, and discounts of Select $-12.40, Standard $-14.70; and May 27, 2004 - $143.08 Choice YG3 base with premiums of YG2 $2.50, and discounts of Select $-15.25, NR $-17.55.

 

Retail product value was calculated as carcass weight, pounds * 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 397.4 days of age and averaged 1261.5 pounds per head at harvest. Overall pen-of -three average daily gain was 3.40 pounds while weight per day of age was 3.19 pounds. Overall pen-of-three marbling score was 415.8 or 15.8 percent into low choice/small marbling. Retail product value averaged $1545.62 per head. Retail product value divided by weight per day of age averaged $3.90.

 

The highest combined index score per pen-of-three was 3.57. While the highest overall scoring pen did not place first in average daily gain, weight per day of age, marbling score, or percent retail product value divided by weight per day of age and profit, the pen did rank first for harvest weight 1367.5 pounds. Correlation between index score total and profit was high (r = 0.6390). Correlations between profit and average daily gain, weight per day of age, marbling score, or percent retail product value divided by weight per day of age are shown in Table 2.


 

Table 2. Correlation between profit and various production measures.

 

Correlation coefficient

Profit and Index Score 0.6390

Profit and Average Birth Date 0.0837

Profit and Average Harvest Weight 0.4428

Profit and Average Daily Gain 0.0892

Profit and Weight per Day of Age -0.1075

Profit and Marbling Score 0.4873

Profit and Percent Retail Product Value divided by weight per day of age 0.7301

 


Profit or loss was calculated using initial calf price as price per pound, $ = 147.6253 (0.05781 * 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 the actual grid pricing for the harvest group.

 

Overall, cattle feeding provided a $112.27 profit before interest was included. However, the top profit pen-of-three calves with superior genetics returned $279.69 per head while bottom pen-of-three calves returned -$267.10 due to death loss.

 

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.

 

 

Pen of steers on the Dakota Feeder Calf Show project.