Best weaning decision

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Dave

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I used what I think is that same Purina feed. I believe it use to be call Pre Con 5. It does work great to get them started eating grain. I only fed it for 10 days max and rotated into a less expensive feed. By then they aren't bawling and eating good. Things are different in different regions. Here you wean on the trailer and you will take a whipping. At least 90% are double vaccinated and weaned 45 + days.
 

bird dog

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Another way to look at it is this. A weaned calf on decent warm season pasture will gain about 1.25 lbs per day minimum with no imputs except maybe some mineral. More in the spring, less going into fall.
So that calf is making you $1.60 per day with you doing nothing. Not much but multiplied by your group of 40 and its not a bad paycheck and you get it 7 days a week for 6 months if you desire when using fall calving cows. Those buyers love long weaned pasture hardened true yearlings. Look at the National Stockyards sale reports and see what those large groups of 850 lb steers bring around this time of year. They are ready for the feedlot and will be harvested next spring when demand is highest.
 

sunnyblueskies

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We've tried weaning and holding back for about 6 weeks on good pasture. From what I remember they were fed some rations daily as well. Forget what that ration was, it's quite a while ago. But in the end it really wasn't worth the effort.
During the first week of weaning they loose weight due to the stress and then it takes a while for them to get back on track and actually have good weight gain.
If you can't keep them over winter and tap into the spring market....... it's not worth it in my opinion and it's just an opinion. Plus you would need enough head, just 10 or 20 isn't going to be high enough profit.
We wean on the truck, we are just not set up, land and feed, to keep the calf crop for 6 more months. Neighbours of ours run about 300, have enough land and feed and keep their calves over winter, separate steers, heifers and seem to be doing good in the spring markets.
Just my take, everyone makes it work with what they have and what they can do........but in the end......... with cattle.........nobody is going to get rich. =)
 

KAstocker

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I think 2.0 ADG is more likely after they are through their stress period.

The real potential money would come through increased value, although not in this case if you are looking at selling now. Looking at a recent market report from Oklahoma City shows that there is a big drop off from 500 lbs to over 550 lbs. You actually lose a little money going from 531 to 576 lbs. The market apparently wants light 5 weights around there now. I don't follow that market, so maybe the past week was an anomaly.
 

Brute 23

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Another way to look at it is this. A weaned calf on decent warm season pasture will gain about 1.25 lbs per day minimum with no imputs except maybe some mineral. More in the spring, less going into fall.
So that calf is making you $1.60 per day with you doing nothing. Not much but multiplied by your group of 40 and its not a bad paycheck and you get it 7 days a week for 6 months if you desire when using fall calving cows. Those buyers love long weaned pasture hardened true yearlings. Look at the National Stockyards sale reports and see what those large groups of 850 lb steers bring around this time of year. They are ready for the feedlot and will be harvested next spring when demand is highest.
I agree with you. I have watched my family haul in beefmaster calves not tagged, not cut, no vaccinations, nothing for years and still bring dang good money. Generally they bring all the calves in to one place and separate the bulls and heifers. From there they get some salt and mineral and maybe some molasses. They will sit there until prices look good or they have to pay some bills or what ever motivates them to sell.

I chase genetics, worming, cutting and all this other stuff trying to maximize the dollar and our spread isn't that much different for all the work and capital. I do think I produce more pounds & dollars to the acre but it comes at a price.

If I could wave my magic wand to try to maximize more dollars it would be a better set up to hold calves on improved grass until we wanted to sell. It would not be feed programs or any thing like that. From what I have seen there are efficiency and price benefits to do that.
 

callmefence

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Another way to look at it is this. A weaned calf on decent warm season pasture will gain about 1.25 lbs per day minimum with no imputs except maybe some mineral. More in the spring, less going into fall.
So that calf is making you $1.60 per day with you doing nothing. Not much but multiplied by your group of 40 and its not a bad paycheck and you get it 7 days a week for 6 months if you desire when using fall calving cows. Those buyers love long weaned pasture hardened true yearlings. Look at the National Stockyards sale reports and see what those large groups of 850 lb steers bring around this time of year. They are ready for the feedlot and will be harvested next spring when demand is highest.
Exactly. If it's done just like you layed it out.
Thing is seems lots of people think weaning a calf means penning it up and feeding it out of a trough. They end up taking a bunch of rollypollys to town and crying about getting screwed. This is especially the case on stocker size calves that are being sent back to grass . Buyers would rather have them bawling than grainfed in my observations.
 

bird dog

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KA the OKC price does fluctuate quite a bit depending on the season and corn price. Plus most of the calves that come through there are 600 and over and long weaned.
Right now with the price of corn high, they want the heavier calves. They also know the fall run is coming so smaller unweaned calves will be in a larger supply so no rush to buy now.
In a couple months as wheat and oats get going, they will start looking for these lightweights. Consequently their will be a run of heavier weights come in as the grazers bring them to town.
Its an interesting place. When I took some steers up there a couple weeks ago there was one group of heifers weighing 800 to 900 that had 400 head in it. That would make a nice check.
 

JRGidaho`

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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.
Fenceline weaning is the least stressful and generally keeps calves gaining. You need to have adequate pasture on the side where the cows will be and very good pasture on the side where the calves will be. We originally did this with 5-strand electrified hi-tensile fence but found we did equally well with 3-strand. Just make sure the fence is packing a punch.

We generally would have the cows and calves directly across from each other for 3 days and then we would start moving them away from each other. Usually, we could have calves grazing by themselves behind single wire fence in 7-10 days after weaning day.

We weaned 3800 calves this way over the course of 18 years. Our weaning period was 21 days during which the calves gained an average of 1.5 lbs/day. Our poorest year was less than .5 lbs/day and our best years were little over 2 lbs/day. We never fed any kind of supplemental feed. All they had was stockpiled cool-season grass-legume pasture.
In those 18 years of fenceline weaning, we had a total of two calves doctored during the 21-day period and a total of two calves that died. One was a chronic that only weighed 225 lbs at weaning and had been repeatedly doctored from birth to weaning. The other one doctored was respiratory. The second calf that died during the weaning process got his head caught in a tree crotch and hung himself. I guess he really, really missed his mom...

The only reason calves lose weight at weaning is because of how it is commonly done.
If you leave the in calves an environment they are used being in and eating food they are used to with the cows within sniffing distance, they will do fine.

30 extra pounds for essentially no extra cost certainly makes weaning worthwhile in my view.
 

TexasRancher

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I don't like weaning early or pushing weight on calves...I run a relaxed operation....if they go on the trailer fully weened, 3/4 or 1/2 weened...so be it. The "our father" upstairs takes care of things. Much easier not running a tight cattle-to-money operation. No competition here...just good natural happy cattle....the way Our Father wants it.
 

Lee VanRoss

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I see a cow as a hired hand that is paid year around. Her contribution is the calf produced and her own salvage value.
If you sell the calf anytime short of a year, what pray tell pays the wages consumed by the cow in the interim between
selling the calf and the next calving season? The only way this can be made up is with eventually unsustainable outside
income or depletion of existing reserve which is also unsustainable. If the final product is not profitable the supply chain will
eventually collapse or be captured by a different marketing diametric.
 

Katpau

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If you sell your calves a few at a time at a sale barn, I don't think the buyers are willing to pay much extra for weaned and vaccinated calves. They may discount a bawling calf, but you probably won't be rewarded much for your time and expense. That is why so many consider it a waste of money. Especially if you put too much weight on them. In this area most of those buyers want a 400 to 550 pound calf to put on grass, and they will pay better by the pound for them. Bigger calves, say over 700, may go directly to a feedllot and I doubt those buyers are buying a few calves at a time in a sale barn. They prefer to buy them in quantity from a large ranch or a stocker grower. There isn't as much competition at most sale barns for the heavier calves, and prices reflect that. If you do precondition your calves, make sure buyers know that before they come to the sale. It might be best to locate a barn that has a preconditioned calf sale that is being promoted ahead to prospective buyers. On the other hand, If you're selling truckloads at a time, like in Dave's part of the world, you better take the time to wean and vaccinate, because buyers are going to remember that load if you don't. A truckload of wormed vaccinated and bunk broke calves are worth more than a load that was weaned onto the trailer.

I tried the Precon 5 StressCare from Purina in 2019 and it did not work out for me at all. I have a buyer that buys all of my calves as weaned vaccinated and bunk broke. Normally I wean the calves onto pasture and I give them 4 or 5 pounds of rye grass screening pellets along with a few pounds of alfalfa hay every few days for protein. The have access to grass of course, but since we seldom have any rain from Mid June on, the grass is not very good. The screening pellets are a waste product of the grass seed industry and cost about $160 per ton. At one time you could get them for $50 to $70 a ton, but like everything else they keep going up. In 2019 the Purina Rep. talked me into doing a little experiment feeding the calves Precon 5. I was to keep track of consumption and gain and I got a deal on the Purina in exchange. I followed directions and worked the calves up to eating 5 pounds a day. The youngest calf was really growing fast and had surpassed the weights of some of his contemporaries that were a month older. On about week two or three we went to feed in the morning and I pointed that calf out to my husband. The calf had his head in the feeder eating Precon greedily. We went to check them out that evening and he had bloated and died. I had been assured that was unlikely by the Rep and when I told him later he said he had never heard of an issue like that before, I am going to stick to my screening pellets in the future. They don't gain that much during weaning, but at least none have died.
 

Dave

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I have also fed those screening pellets. What I used that pre con for was to start them on feed. They seem to go to it real quickly. As I said 10 days max then I change to a lower cost feed. Actually day 7 or 8 I start mixing the lower price feed in with the pre con but I never exceed the 5 pounds per head per day. That lower priced feed was often the screening pellets.

If you think of it what is the calf missing at weaning. The social interaction with the cow. Nothing I can do about that. The nutrition from the milk. That is what I am attempting to replace. The other thing I do in those first couple days is have lots of water available. If they are in a pen there is multiple water troughs. Which ever way the calf turns there is water available.
 

Katpau

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I do know a number of people who swear by Precon, and my experience was perhaps unusual, but it scared me from ever trying again. I don't remember how long the test was to last. Perhaps it was only to be a couple weeks. I think I was to start out at 2 pounds per day and work up to 5. I had to look back into my 2019 records to see when that calf died. I know I followed the protocol that was laid out for me. According to my records, the calf actually bloated and died on day 7. I had forgotten it was that fast. I was feeding Precon to about 40 calves and I know some ate more than others. It is likely he ate considerably more than his share, and that was why we lost him.
 

gcreekrch

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It hasn’t paid in this area yet.
I need to revise this statement. It has paid us twice but we owned the calves for 200 days post weaning. They gained 1.25 lbs per day and 40 cents over what they were worth as calves the previous year.
The only way I would do a feedlot a favour by weaning 60 days is if they paid me a $250 premium over the premium we get for calves off the cow now. That is what those 60 days cost you.
 

hillbilly beef man

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If you cannot get a better price on backgrounded calves than those weaned on exhaust fumes forget about it. Here there is a feeder calf sell every couple of months that requires weaned at least 45 days as well as two rounds of shots. They group them into load lots. They average .20 to .25 over an unweaned calf of the same weight. At this price you can make a little money by keeping them.
 

Rydero

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I personally think instead of focusing on an activity with uncertain returns more people should focus on this. PXL_20210822_175734788.jpg
PXL_20210822_175652272.MP.jpgPXL_20210822_180227087.jpg

These calves are about 5 months old. I'd put most solidly in the 500 weight class, I'd guess they're gaining a minimum of 2lbs a day and they have about 2 months left before sale. We've had the worst drought in about 150 years this summer. Cows are small/moderate. Calves have had no creep, basically just grass, water, salt and mineral. If/when I wean, I start spending money, time and effort on them. The easy weight / money is made now, I concentrate on that.
 

branxchar&charx

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I personally think instead of focusing on an activity with uncertain returns more people should focus on this. View attachment 7492
View attachment 7493View attachment 7491

These calves are about 5 months old. I'd put most solidly in the 500 weight class, I'd guess they're gaining a minimum of 2lbs a day and they have about 2 months left before sale. We've had the worst drought in about 150 years this summer. Cows are small/moderate. Calves have had no creep, basically just grass, water, salt and mineral. If/when I wean, I start spending money, time and effort on them. The easy weight / money is made now, I concentrate on that.
As already mentioned, Great looking calves!
Do you see a big dock in your neck of the woods?
 

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