Quality feed and finishing?

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Timmer

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Hi all,

My wife's brother and father have been raising and selling beef cattle for many years. From a taste perspective their beef has always been okay, not great, not bad. Last year we embarked on our first year of raising and selling our own beef. We bought 2 yearlings that arrived in March, and we processed them in late October. Although we worked very hard on pasture grasses over several years before the cattle arrived, our pasture grass quality was nominal as we live on sand, and we had a bad draught. Between the pasture grass issue, and the fact that my wife and kids viewed the cattle as pets, we fed them like kings. Aside from grazing, there was always a round bale out, and they got corn, oats, and sweet mix twice daily. We probably started feeding them this way in June, so this wasn't finishing, but many months. The hanging weight average between the two head was 872lbs. From my limited knowledge and perspective, they were FAT. When they ambled to the feed trough, they almost looked uncomfortable walking. We sold 2 halves and kept one whole for ourselves (family of 5, plus giving a lot of meat away to parents and other siblings). We paid for processing and charged the 2 customers per lb based on the hanging weight. We broke even on the whole thing, including the cost of feed. Most importantly, both the other people that bought the beef are raving about how good it is, and they have already asked to be included next year, and if they could get meat for other family members and friends next year. We feel like we might have stumbled onto something. Rather than focus on low cost, perhaps we can focus on high quality beef. Next year we are planning on doing 4 head. What are your thoughts on this? Most importantly, I'm wondering if I scaled back the feed for a few months until the last few weeks and focused on finishing, would I have the same results?
 

Buck Randall

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I would be careful about making drastic changes to the feeding program. Early high energy diets are important to marbling. There's no point in a steer's life where you can underfeed them and not lose quality.


You're in a position to set the price for your product. Sit down and figure out how much money you need to come out ahead with your current feeding program, and give that number to the client in advance. If they're okay with paying for it, give them the product they want.
 

Hpacres440p

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Be careful with heavy fat loads- if it’s trimmed off, customers pay HW but lose meat yield due to extra trim. If it’s left on, they see the fat they just paid for. I have a friend who charges about $10/lb (cuts), butchers at 30 months, and told me he had some customers complain about paying for fat. There’s a happy medium
 

Rancher

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Be careful with heavy fat loads- if it’s trimmed off, customers pay HW but lose meat yield due to extra trim. If it’s left on, they see the fat they just paid for. I have a friend who charges about $10/lb (cuts), butchers at 30 months, and told me he had some customers complain about paying for fat. There’s a happy medium
30 months is almost sure to pack fat on as they are already full grown. What breed?
 

ClinchValley86

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I'm curious what you charged for the meat.

There is indeed a fine line to dance upon with optimum/excess fat.

I'm finding it's better to feed a tad less than extra.

Keep hay out free choice, minerals too.

On the grain, 150 days getting 2% bodyweight is the home run. Assuming you're starting with a 9 or 10 weight. Can put 100 lbs or so a month on them.

If you're doing this for money, try to find the class of animal that doesn't sell well in your area...buy those. Not the dinks or poor doers, but the young opens, or buy 8 or 9 weight steers and castrate.

Keep your feed intake constant until processing. Don't back off. If anything, feed a little less the whole time...1
5% bw in grain.
 

shaz

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Last 3 I did were primarily grass fed with about 1% body weight feed per day. Didn't really pour the feed to them until the last 40 days. Graded choice but mine (Angus) are almost always going to grade that way. It seems like there is some value in limiting their movement at the end of the finishing cycle. 2 weighed 1150 and one weighed 1245
 

C-Ranch

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Mine are grass fed and I really don't have a strict protocol. I just place in a semi large open area, but not so big they have to walk far for water or feed. Then they get free choice hay and mineral for 90-120 days. Seems to work and people have been coming back and picking up more people each year. Although we sale by the cut versus whole or half. We found more preferred it this way for one reason or the other. We will finish one out for someone if requested, but since doing the cuts more haves opted for that.
 

Son of Butch

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We bought 2 yearlings that arrived in March, and we processed them in late October. Between the pasture grass issue, and the fact that my wife and kids viewed the cattle as pets, we fed them like kings. Aside from grazing, there was always a round bale out, and they got corn, oats, and sweet mix twice daily. We probably started feeding them this way in June, so this wasn't finishing, but many months. The hanging weight average between the two head was 872lbs. We broke even on the whole thing, including the cost of feed. Most importantly, both the other people that bought the beef are raving about how good it is, and they have already asked to be included next year, and if they could get meat for other family members and friends next year. Next year we are planning on doing 4 head. What are your thoughts on this?
You had great results, keep doing what you're doing and raise the selling price.

Don't expect the same results if scaling back the feed or buying lesser quality of feeders. March yearlings = 12-13 months old, butchered 7 months later in October
= 19-20 months old not 30. You described them as plenty fat, so butchering them
2-3 weeks earlier would be all that I might change.
 
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sstterry

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Speaking of all of this, what are the various thoughts on a good finishing mix? I have followed @Jeanne - Simme Valley's advice for the past few years and just fed WSC. But I am curious about what others feed. I have access to a pretty good blend that is 16% protein, But it contains gluten and I have been told that finishing with high gluten content will give an off taste to the meat.

I only finish for personal use but still, the inputs are a concern.
 

Mountaintown Creek Ranch

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Small herd of Wagyu
Just trying to raise great steak.
14% feed, 24% protein block and quality hay.
Around 2 lb adg.
Time on feed 24-30 months
Incredible marbling and taste.
 

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Jeanne - Simme Valley

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@sstterry knows what I do - but I will mention for others.
I only feed my fall born males. Sept/Oct born - butchered in October at 12-13 months of age. This year I had 4 and they averaged about 765# (all within 25#) hanging carcass weight.
Started on whole shell corn and whole oats just prior to weaning in March/April. Weaned with free choice 2nd cut dry round bale. As grass comes up they gradually just have grass & corn until about 1st of Sept then no grass just hay & corn. Always full access to BioZyme Gain Smart Stocker loose mineral. Last ? 45 days, they are getting about 20# WSC/hd/day ?? whatever they will clean up.
I always believe that our time is money. Faster you get them finished the better. My butcher kills deer, so mid to end of Oct is the latest he can kill. That timing is also best for me, because my cattle are divided into age and gestation groups - taking up all my available lots for feeding and watering for winter. These carcasses always grade choice - usually mid choice to high.
Bag feed is expensive. WSC is the cheapest feed you can buy. If you ever give your cattle sweet feed, you ALWAYS have to continue feeding sweet. Well, you MAY be able to switch them, but difficult. The reason their is molasses, is to cover up all the dust.
Yes, you will see corn in their manure. But, if you had the right equipment to analyze the manure on an animal eating cracked corn - there is just as much in the manure - you just can't see it. There is 8% more efficiency in cracked/processed corn vs WSC - but, you generally can buy WSC cheaper than the 8% difference. Also, if there is grain dust in your feed, the cattle have a higher chance of getting sick on it. The powder clogs the filii (sp? fingers in the stomach). Calves much rather eat large particles like pellets or WSC.
I go for cheapest and easiest. My butcher hands out my name & number to all his customers that raise their own beef for butcher. He thinks my carcasses are the best he processes.
I charge $3.50 hanging wt (HCW) and they pay all butcher's bill.
Weaning wt about 600# - butcher wt about 1200# - so they gain about 3.3#/day
 

Jacob

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I have started feeing out steers as well. Getting butcher dates way in advanced and feeding to those dates. Our steers will be 15 to 17 months. We wean and steer in may and coast them along over the summer. This year we started really feeding them the first of October about 2% of body weight. Have weighed and adjusted feed 2 other times. We feed CPC developer as well because it’s easy and in the feed truck. That’s what our bulls are on too but I’m debating to top dress 6 to 8 pounds of crack corn the last month to see if helps with fat and marbling. Since October calves are gaining 3.2 pounds a day average. First process dates will be February 8th.

Goal live weight 1300 pounds
Goal hanging weight 750 pounds

we sell everything by the whole/half or quarter and not by hanging weight so it’s important for me to get as close to these numbers as possible. We pay processing and get paid before We take to processor.
 

kenny thomas

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Small herd of Wagyu
Just trying to raise great steak.
14% feed, 24% protein block and quality hay.
Around 2 lb adg.
Time on feed 24-30 months
Incredible marbling and taste.
2 questions
The label says that's a maintenance feed. Isn't there a better finishing product?
If fed 24-30 months what is the break even sale price? I would love to try one of the steaks but doubt I can afford one.
 

Mountaintown Creek Ranch

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We are small ranch. All Wagyu cattle except for one Registered Angus that we are using for % breeding.
Cow calf op for the most part... building better heifers is the current goal....along with freezer beef for friends and family.
We will never have over 50 hd.
We keep no bulls on site. We steer or sell them all.
This is a daily feed for most all of our cattle, this is not a finishing feed.
When finishing the last 4 months we will increase the amount of corn and volume.
Making profit LoL...don't know when or if that will happen...we are just doing our best to build a better steak right now.
We are blessed because we are semi- retired and get to spend all the time we want around our cattle, we see them everyday, we handle our own vet work, we keep great records, and weigh them every time through the chute.
I grew up around Angus so Wagyu is new to me. I have been studying the breed and it's genetics available here in the USA and in Australia for about 4 years.
Wagyu cattle handle fat dispersion differently. Make a Wagyu fat and a good portion becomes IMF unlike others breeds that will store the fat in the tailhead, brisket etc.
It is funny how a lot of our cattle friends keep telling us we are doing it all wrong....then they eat the steak and want to know everything we are doing !
We haven't harvested a Full Blood Wagyu yet. We have only had F1 % Angus cross and it's totally incredible. The results are undeniable.
As far as pricing....
The BMS will have an influence on price. Also the type of fat and SCD rating has price influence.
Average BMS FB Wagyu $ 8.50 lb. - 450 lbs average retail cuts.
High BMS FB Wagyu. (Comparable A5) price is whatever the crazy a** people will pay. I have seen some really hugh $$$ pricing.
My friend Tom has a large operation down in S Georgia and gets $10 lb processed for FB and around $8 lb processed for F1-F2.
 

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