Managing and Wintering Hard Keepers

Help Support CattleToday:

Stocker Steve

Well-known member
Joined
May 2, 2005
Messages
11,031
Reaction score
436
Location
Central Minnesota
I have run stockers for a number of years but have only had a cow/calf operation recently. We have had a hard global cooling winter here with a lot of minus 20, and some minus 30 temps. This has been an eye opener on genetics:
I held back and bred shiny good doing angus cross heifers from the stocker herd and they all look fine. BCS 5 to 6
I purchased some Hereford/shorthorn cross cows and they look fat except for one old cow. BCS 6 to 7
I purchased some contienential cross cows and some of them are look a bit thin... :( BCS 4 to 5

The neighbor told me to supplement lots of grain but that is just not in the budget. I feed 1# per day of by pass protein and provide free choice hay.

- I am thinking about hauling the poor doers in to the next bred cow auction and let someone else feed them. Is there a situation where a profitable cow/calf operation should afford to sort off and grain hard keepers?
- Are heifers usually better keepers than cows or did I just selection for a forage diet?
 

angie1

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 21, 2006
Messages
4,179
Reaction score
0
Location
minnesota
Stocker Steve":3u7h5p7b said:
The neighbor told me to feed lots of grain but that is just not in the budget. I am thinking about hauling the poor doers in to the next bred cow auction and let someone else feed them.

Is there a situation where a profitable cow/calf operation should afford to sort off and grain hard keepers?
Are heifers usually better keepers than cows or did I just selection for a forage diet?
Yes, haul your poor doers into the next auction and sell them. The prices will start going up every week now that people believe the end is in sight. Hay was good this year in Mn, so I am thinking people will have plenty hay to feed yet, and not afraid to buy cattle. When are your cows set to calf?

As to the rest, I can only guess, so I will let someone else field it.
 

SRBeef

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 22, 2007
Messages
2,931
Reaction score
1
Location
SW Wisconsin
You bring up a "wintering" question.

I have some cows and heifers that have a real "fuzzy" coat in the winter and some that are smooth and shiney as you describe.

Logic might lead to the conclusion the fuzzy coat ones would do better in the subzero temps and winds but actually the smooth shiney Herefords seem to do as well or better in the cold.

Is there some logic to coat and appearance and wintering ability?
 

novatech

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 21, 2006
Messages
4,830
Reaction score
1
Location
Brenham, Texas
Stocker Steve":1qqf3aba said:
I have run stockers for a number of years but have only had a cow/calf operation recently. We have had a hard global cooling winter here with a lot of minus 20, and some minus 30 temps. This has been an eye opener on genetics:
I held back and bred shiny good doing angus cross heifers from the stocker herd and they all look fine. BCS 5 to 6
I purchased some Hereford/shorthorn cross cows and they look fat except for one old cow. BCS 6 to 7
I purchased some contienential cross cows and some of them are look a bit thin... :( BCS 4 to 5

The neighbor told me to supplement lots of grain but that is just not in the budget. I feed 1# per day of by pass protein and provide free choice hay.

- I am thinking about hauling the poor doers in to the next bred cow auction and let someone else feed them. Is there a situation where a profitable cow/calf operation should afford to sort off and grain hard keepers?
- Are heifers usually better keepers than cows or did I just selection for a forage diet?
I am thinking your thinking is right on. Haul the hard keepers. Hard keepers are simply less efficient. Not only during tough times but through out the year.
Supplementation is a drain on the pocket book. Even if you make a profit it will be less profit than on easy keepers.
As far as the heifers go, I do not think that they show their true colors until they are producing calves.
The only time I have retained hard keepers is because I waited for prices to go up or grass to be good enough to put a little wait on them before I sell.
The biggest problem people have with culling hard keepers is that they see one that produces a fine calf. The problem is that she costs you more money to raise that fine calf and there is always the temptation to retain that calf as a cow. This leads to some pretty sorry genetics in the future of your herd.
 

BeefmasterB

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 2, 2008
Messages
614
Reaction score
0
Location
SE TX
I would agree to cull them out and sell. The only exception I might make is if there was any doubt that they did not get the same vaccinations or parasite controls as the others. In others words, could they have some kind of medical issue that can easily and inexpensivley be treated. If not, move them out.
 

alacattleman

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 22, 2006
Messages
4,141
Reaction score
0
Location
heart of dixie
BeefmasterB":1wtnhc3l said:
I would agree to cull them out and sell. The only exception I might make is if there was any doubt that they did not get the same vaccinations or parasite controls as the others. In others words, could they have some kind of medical issue that can easily and inexpensivley be treated. If not, move them out.
thats true.... but even still, it'll take a ton of money too get em back in good flesh, this time of year... if their not just exceptional gainers
 

bigbull338

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 28, 2005
Messages
16,565
Reaction score
0
Location
texas
in your setup since you dont feed much.id haul the hardkeepers to the sale barn.but know this if you bought thin cows going into winter.you did not have the time to put some weight on them.
 

mnmtranching

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 29, 2006
Messages
5,061
Reaction score
0
Location
MN
Keep the hard keepers. For now. Selling them now would get you kill price. No market for that type of bred cow. They have a valuable calf in them. By Nov the calf will be worth more then the cow is now. Wean off the calves in Sept. Sell all the cows you don't want then.
Wintering 1'st calf heifers in cold climate takes better or more feed then it takes to Winter a bred mature cow.
I like the idea of saving heifers from good doing cows from my own herd. Or buying them from somebody you know that has good Northern cows.
 

KNERSIE

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Messages
7,058
Reaction score
1
Location
3rd World
SRBeef":1ioeh9lt said:
You bring up a "wintering" question.

I have some cows and heifers that have a real "fuzzy" coat in the winter and some that are smooth and shiney as you describe.

Logic might lead to the conclusion the fuzzy coat ones would do better in the subzero temps and winds but actually the smooth shiney Herefords seem to do as well or better in the cold.

Is there some logic to coat and appearance and wintering ability?

A good coat in summer is still a good coat in winter, the opposite also apply.

An animal's coat is its indicator of health and adaptability, almost like the red dot on the pizza boxes ;-)
 

Aaron

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 26, 2005
Messages
5,221
Reaction score
15
Location
Stratton, ON, Canada
Stocker Steve":1tnspg7q said:
- I am thinking about hauling the poor doers in to the next bred cow auction and let someone else feed them. Is there a situation where a profitable cow/calf operation should afford to sort off and grain hard keepers?

Good idea. Continental purebred operations say it is profitable to keep them and feed them high quality feedstuffs, but I am not sure who does their accounting. We have used Simm, Char and Gelbvieh in the herd over the last 35 years, and can say that their lack of a desirable hair coat contributes to some very costly wintering. Our 3/4 and 1/2 Simm cows would eat 2-3 times the amount of hay the Herefords did and not come out of it in near the condition. We have some Gelbvieh cross feeders in the lot right now, and I rarely see them leave the hay rings...just eat and eat and eat.

Now, we have also had some Herefords with a thin haircoat (some are suckling fall calves right now, and are fat lardy cows). The key here is that the Hereford cows have a much thicker hide than the continental breeds, so they can get away with a thinner haircoat and still keep on flesh. Haircoat is often overlooked by cattlemen, but it is one of many priorities in my book. Similar importance to the need for fertility, when looking for cows to handle our winters.


- Are heifers usually better keepers than cows or did I just selection for a forage diet?

Heifers usually are separated and get fed better quality feedstuffs. If your running your heifers and cows together like we are, then I am not sure. I look at our heifers and they look similar to the cows in terms of condition. If your heifers are doing exceptionally well on hay, I would say those are the replacements for the poordoers. :cowboy:
 

Tod Dague

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 4, 2004
Messages
1,517
Reaction score
0
Location
Central Tx
SRBeef":2uqi4a94 said:
You bring up a "wintering" question.

I have some cows and heifers that have a real "fuzzy" coat in the winter and some that are smooth and shiney as you describe.

Logic might lead to the conclusion the fuzzy coat ones would do better in the subzero temps and winds but actually the smooth shiney Herefords seem to do as well or better in the cold.

Is there some logic to coat and appearance and wintering ability?
I won't have shaggy cattle here as they don't do well here in the summer. So, by extension they would probably do better in the cold.
 
OP
S

Stocker Steve

Well-known member
Joined
May 2, 2005
Messages
11,031
Reaction score
436
Location
Central Minnesota
- Are heifers usually better keepers than cows or did I just selection for a forage diet?[/quote]

Heifers usually are separated and get fed better quality feedstuffs. If your running your heifers and cows together like we are, then I am not sure. I look at our heifers and they look similar to the cows in terms of condition. If your heifers are doing exceptionally well on hay, I would say those are the replacements for the poor doers. :cowboy:[/quote]

I sorted through the heifer herd in June after about a month on grass without supplement. I ended up breding 28 of the slick shiny ones with good dispositions. Most of the good doers were wf or Saler crosses, but only one Saler cross passed the disposition test... They have been eating forage with the cows since then.
 

DOC HARRIS

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 26, 2005
Messages
3,256
Reaction score
0
Location
Ft. Collins, CO
Stocker Steve-

As with any "Critical" decision, there are several determinations which must be made to justify your final conclusions regarding your problem(s). You should consider potential future feed costs to expect if you are going to retain them, the anticipated weather problems with which you might have to contend, the health considerations within the herd, and whether your anticipated returns will be sufficient to justify your retaining them throughout the next period of time you plan to keep them. In other words, will your "hard keepers" be worth the time, trouble and expenses to make you a PROFIT?

Probably NOT! At least, that is my assessment of your problem. Maintaining 'difficult doers' at any time is an 'iffy' concern, and considering the additional probable adversities of increased feed costs, health contingencies, and - - Minnesota Winters thrown in for bad measure - - my recommendation would be - get out from under them - NOW!

Insofar as to WHERE that 'break point' should come when you sort off and keep hard gainers, it should depend upon ALL of the factors to be considered in balancing costs and anticipated PROFITABLE returns. That 'break point' will absolutely vary every day that you keep them.

PROFIT is the name of this activity - not just FUN and games.

DOC HARRIS
 

Angus Cowman

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 12, 2008
Messages
7,157
Reaction score
0
Location
the Great State of Mental Distress ( Florida)
I agree with Doc to sell them if you retain them till next fall as was suggested will the calve pay for the added upkeep (I doubt it) if you retained them til spring and sold them as breds they still wouldn't bring what you have to put in them as far as added feed goes to get them to spring

People that say keep them till they calve I don't understand there outlook I have always been in the mindframe of cut your loses when you can why let them keep being losses

That is like saying we will give this cow another chance to breed when she came up openI don't care how good of a calf she has raised in the past she needs to do it every yr and a cow that requires more feed than the rest of the herd needs to go to town because all she is doing is costing you money,

I seriously doubt she would bring enough to cover the extra feed if you kept her for 3 months or 9 months
 

mnmtranching

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 29, 2006
Messages
5,061
Reaction score
0
Location
MN
I understand that these are cows bred to calve in season and have been feed through the toughest part of the Winter. If Steve sells now he likely won''t get back what he paid for the cows. What about the investment in feed and labor up till now? Take the cows a bit farther let them calve. A 1000 pound thin cow would be lucky to net $350. The time to cull cows is Aug-Nov. Not bred cows in Feb. :eek: For sure!! not this year.
 

Northern Rancher

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
1,177
Reaction score
0
Location
Canada
I had a moment of epiphany today-I work at the local sale barn-I was bringing cows up to the ring today-we handled the calves off them three months ago-they have been getting fed all they can eat pretty much. They are thinner than my May/June calved cows are that have 5 weight calves sucking them. They're licking snow for water too in this long cold winter. The time to sell hard doing cows is yesterday!!!
 

1982vett

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 3, 2008
Messages
9,447
Reaction score
221
Location
Central Texas
Northern Rancher":1ptapsil said:
I had a moment of epiphany today-I work at the local sale barn-I was bringing cows up to the ring today-we handled the calves off them three months ago-they have been getting fed all they can eat pretty much. They are thinner than my May/June calved cows are that have 5 weight calves sucking them. They're licking snow for water too in this long cold winter. The time to sell hard doing cows is yesterday!!!
Another side: Eating all they can isn't enough if what they are eating has little nutritional value. Starving for thirst can't be helping either. (Not saying this is the case, but could be the a large part of the problem)

But then, I'm in the south without this type of winter problem.
 

Northern Rancher

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
1,177
Reaction score
0
Location
Canada
My cows are the ones licking snow-cattle do just fine on it-it's better fopr them than sucking up a bunch of ice cold water all at once. What I was getting at there are alot of hard doing cattle out there.
 

KNERSIE

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Messages
7,058
Reaction score
1
Location
3rd World
What I was getting at there are alot of hard doing cattle out there.

Sadly, through lack of comparison their owners are blissfully unaware of the fact that not all cattle are hard keepers, but then with those "ideal" EPDs they must be great. ;-)
 

Brandonm22

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 7, 2008
Messages
1,848
Reaction score
0
KNERSIE":uckyl004 said:
What I was getting at there are alot of hard doing cattle out there.

Sadly, through lack of comparison their owners are blissfully unaware of the fact that not all cattle are hard keepers, but then with those "ideal" EPDs they must be great. ;-)

Knersie, having been on the ground on some of these seedstock places, I don't think most of their owners even know that they are hard keepers. They have concrete troughs. They drop a couple of horse hay quality roll bales into a mixer truck along with a ton of corn, ~400 lbs of soybean meal, and ~100 lbs of custom mineral mix. The truck mixes and grinds everything up and the guy goes out and feeds 6-12 lbs of feed per head. And they do this ALL winter and deep into the spring. They got creep feeders out all summer and fall and some herds keep grain out to the cows all 365 days of the year. The cows stay fat and everybody ooohs and ahhhhs over how 'thick', 'easy fleshing', 'superior', 'fat and sassy' their cows look. Avg weaning weight is 700++ lbs and the top calves blow past 1200 lbs as yearlings. Then the bulls go out in the real world, sire a whole bunch of heifers, and the commercial cow man is complaining about the "hard keepers". A lot of them are bred for feedlot performance and maximum milk. Of course most of us know all of this; but bigger and fatter and a flashier EPD still sells cattle.
 

Latest posts

Top