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NDSU Sets Calf Backgounding Seminar Series

With corn prices low, now might be the time for producers to think about feeding their calves instead of selling them at weaning. (NDSU photo) With corn prices low, now might be the time for producers to think about feeding their calves instead of selling them at weaning. (NDSU photo)
Now may be the time for producers to consider feeding calves instead of selling them at weaning.

With a recent rally in feeder calf prices, selling calves at weaning is attractive, but with low corn prices, feeding calves might be an alternative, North Dakota State University Extension livestock specialists say.

One option is to add value to the calves by feeding them in North Dakota instead of selling them. To address this issue, NDSU Extension is holding a series of seminars on feeding and budgeting calves, and cow feed management.

“Backgrounding calves continues to be a ‘margin’ business,” says Karl Hoppe, Extension livestock systems specialist at the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center. “When the value of the gain is higher than the cost of gain, feeding calves is profitable. However, feed costs are so variable in North Dakota. With the grain prices being fairly low, it’s time to figure if backgrounding calves is a good option this year.”

Several options are available for backgrounding calves.

“Many rations can be calculated with various production scenarios,” says John Dhuyvetter, Extension livestock systems specialist at the NDSU North Central Research Extension Center near Minot. “Steers can be fed at high rates of gain (2 to 3 pounds per head daily) for two to three months or fed at a low rate of gain (1 one 2 pounds per head daily) for a longer period. Heifers can be grown for breeding or for feeding. It’s just time to figure your costs.”

The dates, times and locations for the backgrounding series are:

  • Oct. 16 - 8:30 a.m. CST, McVille, McVille Cafe
  • Oct. 16 - 7 p.m. CST, Spiritwood, Sportman’s Bar
  • Oct. 17 - 8:30 a.m. CST, Napoleon, Napoleon Livestock Auction
  • Oct. 17 - 7 p.m. CST, Granville, McGillicuddy Center
  • Oct. 18 - 8:30 a.m. MST, New Salem, Fairgrounds
  • Oct. 18 - 7 p.m. MST, Killdeer, Ezra Barrows American Legion Hall Post 46

Topics for the meetings and presenters are:

  • Local issues for cattle feeders - NDSU Extension county agriculture and natural resources agents
  • Cost of gain and calf-growing rations - Hoppe
  • Backgrounding calf management and budgets - Dhuyvetter
  • Weaning management - Janna Kincheloe, Extension livestock systems specialist, NDSU Hettinger Research Extension Center

For more information, contact Dhuyvetter at 701-857-7682 or; Kincheloe at 701-567-4323 or; Hoppe at 701-652-2951 or; or your local Extension agent.

NDSU Agriculture Communication - Sept. 26,2018

Source:Karl Hoppe, 701-652-2951,
Editor:Ellen Crawford, 701-231-5391,
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