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WCBR1025

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Hello all,
I’ve decided to go a different direction with my small cattle operation and would like all yall’s thoughts on my initial plan, I have messed with some cows for awhile now but I think backgrounding steers would better suit me because of the flexibility.
My plan is to buy 400-500lb bull calves from the local sale barn, the kind of bulls that are a little thin or just need some good grass and worming. I’d plan on steering them doctoring them if needed and putting them on grass pasture or free choice hay plus added grain and protein supplement. My initial plan was to keep them 150-180 days and haul them back to the sale barn then purchase a new set of bulls and start the process over again.
I have no idea what my ADG would be in this system so I might have to keep them for longer but I was planning to sell them between 700-750lbs. I make the majority of my farm income off hay sales and always have some hay that might not be of horse quality so I figured it could go to the steers without wasting it. I tend some corn as well so I figured my grain could be used for cattle feed. In other words this backgrounding deal doesn’t have to make me a living I would just like it to carry itself and maybe make a dollar or two now and then to reinvest into more bulls.


My only big concerns are:is it going to be able to be profitable enough to carry itself and since I won’t have enough steers to make a large load (in the beginning at least) will I be able to sell at the local sale barn and not take a beating?
 

RanchMan90

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Only one way to find out. I would start with 5-6 head and sell them in may. Must have access to bulk feed to be cost efficient. Would have first calves worked at sale or vet. Establish a good relationship with your vet for a vaccination and antibiotic protocol that works for you.
 

Allenw

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Study your local market some times there will be a drag on certain weights compared to others. Bulls would have to be $10 or more back to steers to deal with them, being able to band at heavier weights has took some of the roll back out of bulls. Be flexible.
 

Ky hills

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My parents worked off farm and back grounded calves. They first kept them around a year, then they started selling them at around 6 months in later years, and getting a new bunch.
The one of the main issues is if they are high at purchase time and then drop by the time of sale, then it can be at a loss. Sometimes they can be held a while, but then there is also more expense going into them during that time.
I have backgrounded some too. I like to buy at around 400 lbs but a lot of folks like 500 or bigger. Someone else mentioned to get them worked at the yards by a vet, and that works pretty good, because they can then be brought in and not be stressed out anymore and start acclimating immediately to a new environment. I also like to feed them a receiving/preconditioning ration for a few days at least, sometimes I will feed some of that on top of the regular feed ration so they will become familiar with that as well.
I also treat them as I would weaned calves by keeping them up close for a a week or two depending on if they are weaned or not.
 

tnwalkingred

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Figure 3-4% death loss. To mimic what others have said the cost difference at purchase between bulls and steers has to be significant in order to maximize profit.
 

Douglas

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The poster said before he was from central NC. As am i and i do exact what he is trying to do. I just buy in the fall and run them on winter annuals till spring on crop land.
Shoot me a message
 
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WCBR1025

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RanchMan90":2eghhc8z said:
Only one way to find out. I would start with 5-6 head and sell them in may. Must have access to bulk feed to be cost efficient. Would have first calves worked at sale or vet. Establish a good relationship with your vet for a vaccination and antibiotic protocol that works for you.

Thanks for the input, as far as feed goes beside what I already produce there is a plant within 10 miles of my farm that has a large constant supply of wet corn gluten. I’d like to try the corn gluten as I have access to a dump truck for hauling but I’m afraid it would spoil much quicker than I would be feeding it, especially in warm weather. I thought about storing some gluten in plastic 55gal drums with sealing lids to keep it fresher but I’m not sure that’s the answer either.
 

ddd75

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pricefarm":k8lptdi3 said:
How much cheaper should bulls be?


i wouldn't deal with them for less then .20. you know they don't have any shots if they ain't steers

the good thing is keepin them a bull makes them tougher.
 

pricefarm

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ddd75":1ncx3xgb said:
pricefarm":1ncx3xgb said:
How much cheaper should bulls be?


i wouldn't deal with them for less then .20. you know they don't have any shots if they ain't steers

the good thing is keepin them a bull makes them tougher.

Bulls around here are usually .10 back from steers. So if you was buying 400lb calves you would save 40$. Not sure it would be worth it.
 

Midtenn

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There's a lot of folks around here getting out of the cow/calf side and going to back grounding. There's appearantly enough money in it that guys with load lots or more are even able to split the gain$ 50/50 with landowners. Landowners still have to bush hog, spray, etc. and from what I'm hearing both sides make money. Not sure how long it will last, as it seems to go in cycles as far as which sectors make the most.
It seems like it would be a far less initial investment than the cow/calf side. You have to be in for the long haul to make money with cow/calf.
 

ddd75

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pricefarm":24v0hjtw said:
ddd75":24v0hjtw said:
pricefarm":24v0hjtw said:
How much cheaper should bulls be?


i wouldn't deal with them for less then .20. you know they don't have any shots if they ain't steers

the good thing is keepin them a bull makes them tougher.

Bulls around here are usually .10 back from steers. So if you was buying 400lb calves you would save 40$. Not sure it would be worth it.
i usually seem them around .20 - .40 cents cheaper. the reports usually don't reflect that, but sitting at the sale I see it all the time.
 

ddd75

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Midtenn":1g75ikfh said:
There's a lot of folks around here getting out of the cow/calf side and going to back grounding. There's appearantly enough money in it that guys with load lots or more are even able to split the gain$ 50/50 with landowners. Landowners still have to bush hog, spray, etc. and from what I'm hearing both sides make money. Not sure how long it will last, as it seems to go in cycles as far as which sectors make the most.
It seems like it would be a far less initial investment than the cow/calf side. You have to be in for the long haul to make money with cow/calf.
depends on the situation. you have to have very good grass and a lot of land to make feeders gain weight.
 

Midtenn

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Around here they are turning out in late April and grazing until November. They say the amount of grass in April is pretty awesome considering there's been no cattle on it all winter. Landowners like the benefit of not feeding hay in winter and no mud, mess.
 

okiek

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I do something similar in OK. I'll turn 4 to 5 weights out on grass in mid to late May and sell in October/November. They have nothing but Bermuda and native grasses except the feed I pour out on weekends to keep them coming in the lot. I try to buy steers so I don't put added stress on them at shipping time by cutting. Last year my average daily gain on steers was 1.32 pounds. The few heifers I had with them gained 1.02 ADG. I'll push to do a little better this year, but was happy with that for the very minimal feed I put in them.
 

RanchMan90

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okiek":23ezjn7a said:
I do something similar in OK. I'll turn 4 to 5 weights out on grass in mid to late May and sell in October/November. They have nothing but Bermuda and native grasses except the feed I pour out on weekends to keep them coming in the lot. I try to buy steers so I don't put added stress on them at shipping time by cutting. Last year my average daily gain on steers was 1.32 pounds. The few heifers I had with them gained 1.02 ADG. I'll push to do a little better this year, but was happy with that for the very minimal feed I put in them.
That's about what I see for grass gains here. What area of OK?
 

okiek

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That's about what I see for grass gains here. What area of OK?[/quote]


Those calves were in southern OK about 20 miles east of Ardmore.
 
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WCBR1025

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Thanks for all the replies folks, I’ll take all this good information into consideration as I go forward with my cattle operation.
 

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