Best weaning decision

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350farms

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I’m gonna ask for input on what works and doesn’t work dollar wise at weaning.
I have always weaned on the trailer and my father did the same thing as I was growing up.
For info we are in central Louisiana and raise simangus type yearlings.

Try to follow my math here -(10 calf group for easy figures)
Pull 10 - 500 lb steer calves on October1
Put them in my 15 acre weaning pen (knee deep grass)
Immediately start them on Purina Stress Care feed at 5 lbs a day.
total feed would be 50lbs a day for 30 days would equal $594.
per Purinas website a 2.5ADG would put those steers at 575lbs after 30 days.

575lbs X $1.50= $862.50 X 10=$8625.00

If I would’ve sold on oct 1
500lbs X $1.60=$800.00 X 10=$8,000.00

difference of $625 minus feed leaves me with a $31 dollar profit if my labor is worth $0

tell me what I’m missing here and I know Purina feeds are expensive but it is a feed that most are familiar with.
Thank you for your input in advance.
 

bird dog

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You are missing the shrink calculation which if you don't have a set of scales is impossible to figure in.
From my experience, 30 days does not allow you enough time to get the calves over the weaning process and gaining good.
What I would do would be to find a cheaper feed and only feed three times a week but keep the calves an additional 15 to 30 days. Again from my experience doing this your shrink will go down about 3% so an additional 15 lbs per head at the pay window.
Calves on good pasture will not need expensive feed. A decent 12% protein will work.
 

faster horses

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It will take awhile to get them to eat, so there's that, too. They need to be built up to 5#/day.
Ruminents don't need fed protein every day. Every other day, or every third day will work.
They do need to be on the best grass you have because their rumen isn't very efficient at this stage and the best forage is important. Protein doesn't add weight, energy does. What are the ingredients in the Purina pellets?
 

Stocker Steve

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Seasonal price trend and death loss and order weight...

Usually calf prices drop here during October because so many calves come to town and weather can be damp. So backgrounders usually take them into the new year. This year may be different due to mega drought.

Here a lot of buyers have orders for "5 weights." So a noticeable VOG drop after 549#.
 
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350farms

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You are missing the shrink calculation which if you don't have a set of scales is impossible to figure in.
From my experience, 30 days does not allow you enough time to get the calves over the weaning process and gaining good.
What I would do would be to find a cheaper feed and only feed three times a week but keep the calves an additional 15 to 30 days. Again from my experience doing this your shrink will go down about 3% so an additional 15 lbs per head at the pay window.
Calves on good pasture will not need expensive feed. A decent 12% protein will work.
Thank you for your input - I do have a set of scales to be able to monitor the calves.
I would assume that the process mentioned above is the protocol you use?
 
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350farms

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It will take awhile to get them to eat, so there's that, too. They need to be built up to 5#/day.
Ruminents don't need fed protein every day. Every other day, or every third day will work.
They do need to be on the best grass you have because their rumen isn't very efficient at this stage and the best forage is important. Protein doesn't add weight, energy does. What are the ingredients in the Purina pellets?
I agree with everything you have stated. I used Purina as a hypothetical feed because I figured most people would be familiar with their products. For the sake of discussion here is the Purina tag.1629396622677.jpeg
 

JParrott

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Small scale weaning doesn't pay. Weaning for dollars really only works well (IMO) in large numbers. You got a few hundred? Going to make money worth it. You got 30-40 or less, no bueno. Put them on the trailer and ship and spend the time doing something more valuable.

Edit - if you've got a buyer willing to pay premium for the weaned that can make it worth it too.
 
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shaz

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Like Bird Dog said, you're going to go in reverse your first two weeks of weaning. Really helps if you can get your feed costs down to around 14 cents per pound too.
 

Rydero

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Only things you're missing are expenses that'll make it even less profitable. Run the calves through the knee high pen on their momma's and then take them to town. Death, shrink, sickness, calves won't look as good on sale day, your time is worth something, etc, etc.
 

J+ Cattle

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Weaning plus vaccinations will allow you to participate in special "weaned calf" sales, if you have any in your area. Each sale barn has their own requirements but most are similar to a VAC45 program. Price premiums from these sales can fluctuate wildly so I would recommend that you attend a few of these sales and watch the outcome before you decide what to do. Circumstances like high feed cost (corn) at the feedlots makes quality and value appear more attractive because the cattle come in without as much trouble settling in and gaining.

J+ Cattle
 

bird dog

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Well if you have scales and enough calves, run a test so you will know going forward. Take half to the sale now and run the other half through a pre-condition program. Weigh each of your calves just before you load them and see how the shrink pencils out. Try to keep everything as close as possible as far as quality of calves and time to you take to the barn. Get a good reference on pricing when you go so you can adjust the seccond group up or down to reflect the changing market.
After a few groups you will know what you want to do. Your scales will tell you.

Don't let folks tell you its not worth it before you try it. It is for some,its not for many others. If you have decent forage and a vaccination program, your risks are low. Yes you will have some labor to consider. Your market will also be a determining factor.

Yes I run mine similar to what I described. Weaned sales will add some value if they have one in your area. To much feed will make them pudgy and you will get a docked enough to erase the profit from buying feed.

You will also have the satisfaction of putting out a good product that will allow the buyer to also profit from a healthy calf.
 

J+ Cattle

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350,

You also need a much less expensive feed than the Purina Stress Care @ $19.80 per bag or you'll be giving all of your potential profit to the feed store. I use the same 20% protein range cubes that I give to my cows but it does take time for some of them to learn to start eating them. A smaller size pellet might help but I only keep the range cubes on hand.

J+ Cattle
 

TCRanch

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Are your calves fully vaccinated? Is it generally just 10 (give or take), as in the example in your initial post? Are they uniform in size/color? Do you advertise or put out advance notice? Geography matters. What sells the best in your area and do you conform?

Around here, buyers will pay a premium for fully preconditioned calves: weaned a minimum of 45 days, 2 rounds vaccinations, bunk broke, uniform herd. The local sale barn will advertise early consignments if you provide the info on the calves prior to the sale, which generates interest.

I supplement with 20% protein cubes (range nuggets) year 'round. Very little in the late spring/summer/early fall, but enough to keep the herd running up to me and the calves used to them. Actually, most of my calves are "hand feeders" and completely bunk broke by weaning and the majority will practically maul me by the time they're sold (and I'm glad to get rid of 'em!). Bulk prices on cubes are definitely going up: just bought 6420 lbs. for $930.90 (@ $2.90 and going up to $3.10 in Oct).

That said . . . . if you truly only have a handful of calves that range in weight/age, unless you're selling private treaty, your father is probably right to simply wean on the trailer.
 
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350farms

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Are your calves fully vaccinated? Is it generally just 10 (give or take), as in the example in your initial post? Are they uniform in size/color? Do you advertise or put out advance notice? Geography matters. What sells the best in your area and do you conform?

Around here, buyers will pay a premium for fully preconditioned calves: weaned a minimum of 45 days, 2 rounds vaccinations, bunk broke, uniform herd. The local sale barn will advertise early consignments if you provide the info on the calves prior to the sale, which generates interest.

I supplement with 20% protein cubes (range nuggets) year 'round. Very little in the late spring/summer/early fall, but enough to keep the herd running up to me and the calves used to them. Actually, most of my calves are "hand feeders" and completely bunk broke by weaning and the majority will practically maul me by the time they're sold (and I'm glad to get rid of 'em!). Bulk prices on cubes are definitely going up: just bought 6420 lbs. for $930.90 (@ $2.90 and going up to $3.10 in Oct).

That said . . . . if you truly only have a handful of calves that range in weight/age, unless you're selling private treaty, your father is probably right to simply wean on the trailer.
TC
They are vaccinated and I typically sell 40 or so at weaning (the numbers above was for easier math). I’m slowly building numbers in the herd.
like yours I can call em into the lot any day of the week with a bucket of cubes which I do about once a week.
I’ve just been wondering if I was leaving money on the table so I’ve been reading and researching it.
just wanted to pick everybody’s brains on what they did - thank you for your input.
 

kenny thomas

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If you are not a believer in weaning go to Oklahoma City Stockyard and see how many unweaned calves are there. They pay for weaned calves
Another place they comment on weaned calves in their report each week is Paris, KY.
 

Davemk

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I’m gonna ask for input on what works and doesn’t work dollar wise at weaning.
I have always weaned on the trailer and my father did the same thing as I was growing up.
For info we are in central Louisiana and raise simangus type yearlings.

Try to follow my math here -(10 calf group for easy figures)
Pull 10 - 500 lb steer calves on October1
Put them in my 15 acre weaning pen (knee deep grass)
Immediately start them on Purina Stress Care feed at 5 lbs a day.
total feed would be 50lbs a day for 30 days would equal $594.
per Purinas website a 2.5ADG would put those steers at 575lbs after 30 days.

575lbs X $1.50= $862.50 X 10=$8625.00

If I would’ve sold on oct 1
500lbs X $1.60=$800.00 X 10=$8,000.00

difference of $625 minus feed leaves me with a $31 dollar profit if my labor is worth $0

tell me what I’m missing here and I know Purina feeds are expensive but it is a feed that most are familiar with.
Thank you for your input in advance.
60 days or on the truck. Take your pick.
 

snoopdog

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I believe you need at least 60 days to get back even. Are you castrating at weaning? And since you used the 10 head figure for easier math, are you still using the 15 acre weaning pen, cause 40 head will eat and trample that down pretty quick. If so, maybe you could divide it in half. The thing about that size calf, and I don't know where yu're at, is you'll get frame on them about midwinter, and you really need to carry them a little longer to benefit, and definitely need to find cheaper feed,
 
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350farms

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I believe you need at least 60 days to get back even. Are you castrating at weaning? And since you used the 10 head figure for easier math, are you still using the 15 acre weaning pen, cause 40 head will eat and trample that down pretty quick. If so, maybe you could divide it in half. The thing about that size calf, and I don't know where yu're at, is you'll get frame on them about midwinter, and you really need to carry them a little longer to benefit, and definitely need to find cheaper feed,
It would be the same 15 acre pen, and I agree completely on the cheaper feed option.
 
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