NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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December 12, 2011 Agriculture Column


The holiday season is upon us and so is the cattle feeding season.  My produces have their calves weaned and in some cases the calves are even sold.  Wow! It is really hard to see these very attractive prices and not sell calves.  I am not going to suggest you sell your calves out of your normal routine, however there are some things to think about.  Of course, first and foremost selling cattle out of your routine could be a burden on your tax situation.  Secondly, your feed source and quantity will play a role in your decision and thirdly, is your facility ready for the calves and the desired feeding period?  Lastly, have you worked your calves yet?  Many buyers are looking for cattle with their vaccination program in place.  This allows the feedlots to save a few dollars but first and foremost a good vaccination helps keep those newly weaned calves healthier.  Dead calves really hurt the bottom line.

I had a producer ask me last week what I thought about cow replacements. Comments such as why not buy bred stock to replace, or how about keeping heifers or how about keeping those really productive cows home and give them a year off.  I could talk about this topic for ever, however for the sake of this column I will limit my thoughts.  Buying bred replacements can very much be a productive process in cow replacement; however do your homework and get to know the cattle you are looking at buying.  Buying a bred cow or heifer and buying a purchasing a reputable replacement can mean another 2-3-4 hundred dollars in your pocket.  Keeping heifers can also be a productive process but two things to remember would include: keeping a heifer does not allow a calf for another full year and it is also a means of generating additional dollars for your cashflow.  With statement being said I would also like to add my two cents worth.  I do believe in selling off open cows, late cows and those poor producing cows.  I know some of you might say that a particular cow is not a bad producing cow because she has a calf everyyear but a cow that has a calf 2-300 pounds lighter than the average calf of your herd is a non-productive cow and needs to be sold.  The other comment about this topic would include; with the very high slaughter cow market it might be a good time to keep a few of your better quality heifers.  Your dollar return will be very close and if your cow is open you will not get a calf for another year anyway.  There are so many discussion topics here and will continue on with more next week. 


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