Ohio Beef Newletter

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Jan 20, 2007
LaRue, Ohio
Do The Math Before Creep Feeding - Karl Hoppe, Extension Livestock Specialist, NDSU

Calving is winding down in North Dakota, and producers soon will be making decisions that could affect their profit margin when they sell those calves months from now.

One of those decisions is whether to supply the calves with creep feed. That's essentially any food a producer provides calves while they're still nursing.

The amount of creep feed required to produce the desired result in the calves is a major factor producers must consider when deciding whether creep feed is cost-effective, according to Karl Hoppe, Extension Service area livestock specialist at North Dakota State University's Carrington Research Extension Center.

"Make sure you do the math with the right feed conversions," he advises.

Producers must keep in mind they will need more creep feed if they are using it as a replacement for pasture grasses than as a supplement, he says. For example, he estimates calves would need 5 to 7 pounds of creep feed for 1 pound of weight gain if creep feed is a supplement. However, if it's replacing pasture grasses, calves might need 8 to 9 pounds of creep feed for 1 pound of weight gain.

"So if the pasture condition is good to exceptional, then be sure to use a creep feed formulated to supplement grass, rather than replace grass," he says.

Favorable and profitable conversions of 5 to 7 pounds of creep feed to 1 pound of gain are typical where pasture forage is limited and feed is balanced with nutritional requirements, says John Dhuyvetter, area livestock specialist at NDSU's North Central Research Extension Center in Minot. Such conversions also are likely for calves of first-calf heifers and very old cows where milk and grass don't meet calves' growth potential.

Hoppe recommends producers start calves on creep feed as soon as possible to avoid digestive upset.

"I'm always concerned when pastures become overgrazed and then creep feed is introduced," he says. "This can lead to extremely high intakes of creep feed and result in sickness and possible death."

When producers plan to sell their calves is another big part of the creep feed equation.

"If you sell calves at weaning, the extra weight they've gained on creep feed needs to be worth more than the extra cost of the feed," Hoppe says.

Producers also should consider the source of the creep feed. Commercially produced creep feed is more expensive than the home-gown varieties. The commercial product might be less costly in the long run, though, because it will result in fewer digestive upsets and it contains correctly formulated rations, Hoppe says.

The type of creep feed used could be another issue. He suggests using creep feeds containing higher amounts of protein and fiber and lower amounts of starch as a supplement to grass. These creep feeds improve the digestibility of grass. Calves eating creep feeds that are starch-based, or mostly grain, will substitute creep feed for grass.

"Creep feeding in most all situations will increase calf weights and herd revenue," Dhuyvetter says.

However, calculating profit margins from creep and alternative feeds is very important with today's high feed costs, he says. To calculate the feed cost per pound of additional weight from supplemental feeding, multiply the cost per pound of feed by the projected rate of conversion (pounds of creep feed consumed per pound of added weight gain).

Since heavy calves usually sell for less per pound than lighter calves, the value of added pounds from creep feeding often is less than market price. If there are small or no price slides, this is sometimes the case when cattle feeders are aggressive bidders for early heavy calves capable of finishing for the April or earlier seasonally high markets. Then the added weight can be valued near market price.

"More typically, we see a 6- to 8-cent per hundredweight price slide associated with increasing calf weights, making the added pounds worth about 65 percent of market price," Dhuyvetter says.

Creep feeding is not likely to pay when conversions are high, in situations where pastures provide good nutrition and cows are milking well, he adds. It also is of questionable value for heifers that will be retained and developed for replacements, and calves that will be backgrounded for an extended time postweaning.

For Hoppe and Dhuyvetter, the bottom line is producers need to consider all the variables and spend a little time with their calculators before making a decision on creep feed.

The Principle of "Value of Added Gain" - Dr. Glenn Selk, Extension Cattle Specialist, Oklahoma State University

The decision to include a management practice that adds weaning weight to calves should be based on two parts of the business equation. 1) What is the value of the added weaning weight gain achieved from the new management practice? 2) How much did I spend on the practice to produce the added weaning weight available for sale?

The "value of added gain" - A commonly misunderstood principle in the cattle business is that of the "value of added gain." There is a natural tendency to believe that when the calf prices are good that any extra weight put on those calves will also have a very high price. Likewise, many producers cut back on management techniques that would add weight to calves when cattle prices are low. However, there are some financial principles during cattle cycles that make us constantly re-evaluate the current value of added gain.

When calves are selling for good prices ($1.20 per pound or more), there is usually a sizeable "price slide" or reduced selling price for heavier calves. On the other hand, when cattle prices are depressed, the "price slide" often lessens or (in a few rare instances) disappears entirely.

Let's look at a couple of examples - Assume that on your ranch, average weaning weight without creep feed is about 525 pounds. Research data through the years gives us the information that typical improved gains from self-fed high energy creep feeds are about 50 to 60 pounds. Therefore the creep fed calves would sell at about 575 pounds.

With good cattle prices (according to USDA market news for Oklahoma this week, May 4 - 10: (http://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/KO_LS794.txt) the 525 pound calf could bring about $124.83 per hundredweight or $655.36 total. The 575 pound, fleshier calf would bring about $4.46 less per hundred weight at $120.37 per hundredweight or $692.13 total. Therefore the extra 50 pounds returned an extra $36.77. Consequently the value of each added pound was actually worth 73.5 cents. The added gain is not going to be worth the selling price of over $1.20 per pound!!

In 1995 with poorer calf prices the 525 pound calf would bring about $68.00 per hundred pounds or $357.00 dollars. With the less severe price slide, the heavier 575 pound calf sold for $66.50 per hundred or $382.75. The extra 50 pounds brought $25.75 and a value of each pound of added gain at 51.5 cents.

It is amazing how often the value of added gain is between 50 cents/pound and 75 cents/pound! We want to keep this "principle of value of added gain" in mind as we make management decisions that are aimed at increasing calf sale weights.

Banding Vs. Cutting - excerpted from the Arkansas Cooperative Extension "Stocker Cattle Management: Receiving Health Program" fact sheet

It is not unusual to find 60 percent of the male calves that arrive at the sale barns have not been castrated. The least stressful time to castrate a bull calf is during the first week of life, but that may not be the most practical time. Nevertheless, all bull calves should be castrated.

Both banding and cutting techniques work well, and selection is based upon the preference of the producer. Cutting works better with smaller calves.

It is important to make sure that the cutting instrument is cleaned with a disinfectant between animals. When cutting larger calves, the cord to the testicles should be crimped to avoid excessive bleeding.

There are several banding products on the market for larger calves. When properly done, the scrotum dries up and falls off within one to two weeks, there is very little bleeding and fly problems are reduced. If the band slips or is not tight enough around the scrotum, it will become putrid and eventually slough off. Learning proper placement is easy and with a bit of practice should not be a problem. It is very important to administer a tetanus vaccination at least two weeks prior to banding and then a booster at banding.

Forage Focus: Roundup Ready Alfalfa Update - Dr. Dan Undersander, Forage Agronomist, University of Wisconsin

I have been working with Forage Genetics and Monsanto regarding the Judge's ruling concerning Roundup Ready alfalfa. We won't know the details of restrictions for a couple weeks but I think that the following two paragraphs are significant and should be publicized.

The injunction of Judge Charles Breyer on sale of Roundup Ready Alfalfa allows that existing Roundup Ready alfalfa (planted before March 30, 2007) can continue to be grown, harvested and sold. But he imposed several conditions and required that USDA-APHIS draft regulations to put the conditions into effect. APHIS is required to notify growers individually of the restrictions within 45 days of the order (May 3, 2007).

The important consideration is that no restrictions are in effect until individual growers receive notice from APHIS. Much of first cutting alfalfa will be taken shortly. There will be no harvesting or sale restrictions on roundup ready alfalfa harvested this spring before notification of restrictions is received by the grower from APHIS.

Glyphosate Preharvest Options - Bill Curran, PSU Weed Specialist

The glyphosate label continues to expand with additional use options. In our weekly Crop Management Extension Group teleconference, several new options were discussed this morning and unless you spend time reviewing labels (and even if you do), you may have missed some of this. Remember, NOT all glyphosate products allow the same use options, so check individual product labels before using a product. In particular, Monsanto branded glyphosate (i.e. Roundup) appears to have the broadest label use options, but competitor products (i.e. Touchdown, Glyphomax, etc.) will also likely have these uses added over time.

For the purpose of today's article, I am specifically discussing "Roundup" branded glyphosate.

* Glyphosate has had a preharvest label for alfalfa for several years. Roundup may now be used preharvest in declining stands of alfalfa, clover and other forage legumes (with a few exceptions that are not important for our area). The treated crop can be harvested and fed to livestock or grazed after 36 hours for alfalfa and after 3 days for other legumes. Check the herbicide label for specific rate restrictions.

* Pasture renovation. Roundup may be used to renovate grass pastures (orchardgrass, bromegrass, etc.). If the application rate is 2 quarts per acre or less (Roundup Weathermax), there is no waiting period between treatment and feeding or livestock grazing. If greater than 2 quarts per acre, you must wait 8 weeks before grazing or harvesting.

* Finally, preharvest application of glyphosate is allowed for wheat and feed barley grown for grain. This use does not include cereal rye or other small grains harvested for forage.

The Ohio Heifer Development Program Now Accepting Cooperator Applications

The Ohio Beef Heifer Development Program is currently accepting applications to become the second cooperator for the program. The overwhelming interest and popularity of this new and exciting program has provided an opportunity to expand on the current number of heifers enrolled in the program that are being developed by Heifer Development & Breeding Services in Russellville, Ohio.

The second heifer development center should ideally have the following: the capacity to develop a minimum of 75 heifers, accessible handling facilities and scales, adequate feed storage and processing capabilities and should be primarily pasture based. A requirement for being a host farm for the program is the ability to carry liability insurance for custom fed animals while they are being cared for by the farm. The cooperator would need to be able to receive heifers starting as soon as October of 2007. Past educational schooling, participation in state programs, cattle feeding background and artificial insemination experiences are all important considerations in order to be selected as a cooperator for the program.

The cooperators for the program work hand in hand with the Ohio Cattlemen's Association, The Ohio State University Extension Beef Team, and the Southern Ohio Agricultural & Community Development Foundation. Applications can be found online at www.ohiocattle.org or by contacting the Ohio Cattlemen's Association office at 614-873-6736. For any additional information, please contact Bill Doig at [email protected]. Applications are due June 22.

Weekly Roberts Agricultural Commodity Market Report - Mike Roberts, Commodity Marketing Agent, Virginia Tech

LIVE CATTLE on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) finished up on Monday. The JUNE'07LC contract closed at $93.600/cwt, up $0.950/cwt and $0.400/cwt higher than last week at this time. The AUG'07LC contract closed at $93.400/cwt, up $1.000/cwt and $0.425/cwt higher than last Monday's close. Buying was energized on $1.00/cwt higher-than-last-week cash cattle and a 2% increase in cattle marketings in April. Friday, USDA put April marketings at 1.821 million head, up 2% from last year. April placements were 97% of last year's numbers coming in at 1.573 million head leaving May 1 on-feed supplies down 2% from last year's at 11.297 million head. Analysts' pre-report estimates for marketings were placed at 99.9% of last year, placements 96% of last year, and on-feed supplies at 97.9% of last year. Cash cattle traded at $97-$97.50/cwt in the 5-area-average reported by USDA and $98-$98.50/cwt in Oklahoma. This put futures at a significant discount to cash. Cash cattle and boxed beef prices are seen as declining into early summer now that the Memorial Day meat buying by retailers is seen as done. Only time will tell. USDA on Monday put choice beef cutout values at $166.49/cwt, up $0.54/cwt. Packer margins were pushed further into the black. August/June spreading by funds was noted as lifting the August contract. Cash sellers are strongly encouraged to get cattle sold again this week. It is suggested to hold off pricing more short-term corn needs at this time.

FEEDER CATTLE contracts at the CME in the front three contract months finished down on Monday and all the rest except for the MAR'08FC finished even. The MAY'07 contract closed at 108.925/cwt, off $0.200/cwt and $0.625/cwt lower than last Monday. The AUG'07 contract closed at 113.70/cwt, off $0.025/cwt but $0.475/cwt higher than a week ago. Feeder losses were contained by gains in live cattle while gains in CBOT corn futures limited upside potential. The CME Feeder Cattle Index came in at $108.67/cwt, up$0.48/cwt, the highest it's been since April 13. Cash sellers should continue to be patient in selling feeders if you have the pasture. It still looks like it will pay off with a premium for heavier feeders in the coming weeks. Holding off more short-term corn needs might be a good idea right now.