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Should I castrate??

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Article in CattleNetwork:

Cow Calf: To Castrate Or Not To Castrate??
A question commonly discussed around small town coffee shops would sound like this: “Is it worth the trouble to castrate male calves at ‘calf working time’ or should I just leave them to sell as ‘cutter bulls’?”

A survey conducted by Oklahoma State University of eastern Oklahoma livestock markets in 1997 and 1999 showed that on average, bull calves were $2.00-3.00/cwt less expensive than steers of similar weight. Other studies in other states have suggested that bull calves are currently being discounted even more. In fact, last week at the Oklahoma City National Stockyards, 416 pound feeder steer calves sold for $127.00/cwt while 400 pound feeder bull calves sold for $121.00/cwt. Both groups were graded medium and large frame, number one muscling score. Therefore the bulls that weighed only 16 pounds less, returned $44.32 less per animal. The discount gets even wider as the cattle get older and larger. A group of 626 pound feeder steers sold for 109.24/cwt in the same sale that 635 pound feeder bulls brought $94.00/cwt. In this situation the bulls, that weighed 9 pounds more, brought a whopping $86.94 per head less than the steers.

However, some of the discounts may still not be enough. Until the last few years, there has been very little information available to Oklahoma producers on the additional production costs associated with purchasing lightweight bulls vs. steers for use in a stocker operation. Therefore, the objective of several OSU studies was to evaluate differences in performance and health status of steers vs. knife-castrated or band-castrated bulls.

Stocker calves castrated well prior to purchase (steers) had significantly improved daily gain (2.35 lb/day vs. 1.77 lb/day) and dry matter intake (8.85 lb/day vs. 7.59 lb/day) for 42 days compared with calves castrated after purchase and at processing (bulls). No difference was observed in the feed:gain ratio. The number of times removed from the pen for disease treatment was significantly less for steers versus bulls, suggesting a healthier appearance. In addition, the number of treatments and time of recovery tended to be lower in steers versus bulls. One third (33.3%) of the steers were treated at least once; whereas 59.3% of the "cutter bulls" were treated at least once. None of the steers were treated more than one time; whereas 23.5% of the newly castrated bulls were treated more than once. (Berry, et al. 2001 OSU Animal Science Research Report).

Although more experiments comparing the effects of purchasing steers vs. bulls on performance, health, and economics are needed, data suggests that the lower costs per pound associated with purchasing bulls are out-weighed by the additional cost of decreased performance and increased sickness. Medical costs were much higher for bulls compared to animals purchased as steers. Medical costs escalate when cattle require more than one medical treatment. As the cattle markets put more and more emphasis on value-based marketing of feeder calves, cow calf producers can expect to be discounted increasingly for leaving male calves un-castrated.

Source: Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Extension Cattle Reproduction Specialist
 

rowdyred

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I think, in my situation, that it would be how many bull calves you had to sell, with a small number it would not add up to to much, so with a large number it would pay-off, also if you dont have the facilities to handle cow/calves it may not be worth it, where I live they discount around .5 cents a pound, I dont have good handling facilities yet so to me its not worth it for the few that I have.
 

ScottyB

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Where I operate, there is no difference. So in my opinion it is not worth the trouble. But if it pays off then do it. Its all about making the most money with what you got. If it makes more then do it, If not then don't. :cboy:
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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rowdyred":1safu164 said:
I think, in my situation, that it would be how many bull calves you had to sell, with a small number it would not add up to to much, so with a large number it would pay-off, also if you dont have the facilities to handle cow/calves it may not be worth it, where I live they discount around .5 cents a pound, I dont have good handling facilities yet so to me its not worth it for the few that I have.
You don't need facilities if you castrate them at birth.
 

greatgerts

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Great Article! I had gotten this email yesterday evening, and was planning on posting it as well.
 

mnmtranching

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I haven't seen it. Same weight, same quality feeder bulls sell for the same price as steers.

It is easy banding at birth and will make you a quick $25 if say, you are selling 500 pound calves. The bigger and older a bull gets the wider the price spread.
 

rowdyred

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Jeanne - Simme Valley":34nntxco said:
rowdyred":34nntxco said:
I think, in my situation, that it would be how many bull calves you had to sell, with a small number it would not add up to to much, so with a large number it would pay-off, also if you dont have the facilities to handle cow/calves it may not be worth it, where I live they discount around .5 cents a pound, I dont have good handling facilities yet so to me its not worth it for the few that I have.
You don't need facilities if you castrate them at birth.
Your right, (and I know im just making excuses) but im a school teacher/coach, and my calving season is in the fall, its hard for me to check the cows everynight during football practice and games,plus ive never tried banding, i do think thats the best way, im slowly getting out of coaching as my herd grows and i will start banding/castrating in the near future.
 

farmwriter

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I know a lot of ya'll castrate at birth, but I can't imagine how that works. Do you just grab 'em out in the open pasture and mama cow doesn't mind?
 

2/B or not 2/B

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farmwriter":1nbjb588 said:
I know a lot of ya'll castrate at birth, but I can't imagine how that works. Do you just grab 'em out in the open pasture and mama cow doesn't mind?

There are a few ways we do it here. First is just like you said. At this time, there aren't any cows here that won't let us do it. We wait till the calf is taking a nap and mom is grazing. It's easy to sneak up on a newborn sleeping calf and it's over before mom has a chance to get too worried. Second is if they come into the corrals for water, we herd the calf into the barn and close the door. Band the calf in the barn and then turn it out. Last way, if mom is feeling real protective, drive the truck into the field and orchestrate a "calfnapping." Get the calf into the back of the truck, band there, drive off a bit and let the calf go. We eartag at the same time.
 

randiliana

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We do all of ours at birth too. There is just too big a price spread here not to do it. In our case, we calve in one area and move the new pairs to a new area shortly after birth. They go through the corral when we move them and we snag the calf on the way by the barn. Then they get tagged, banded, dehorned an any other stuff that needs to be done. For most of our cows, though, we could do it all out on pasture if we wanted. Nasty mamas don't last long around here.

Another time that works to castrate is when the calves are all branded and/or vaccinated. If you have ahold of them then, might as well castrate. This is when most of the bigger ranchers do their calves around here. They don't tag at birth, a lot of range mama's aren't that nice when their baby is threatened. The calves get anything done that is needed when they are 2-3 months old at branding.
 

farmwriter

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We castrate when we tag and vaccinate - wait a little longer to brand on most of them, and we usually only brand the ladies.
While I only have one that I would say gets nasty about her calf - and frankly we've about decided it's just me personally she dislikes - not too many of them would like us grabbing up the new prize. I sort of think a little maternal instinct of protection is a good thing, though. Coyotes are no joke in south AL.
Thanks for the input. I just wondered how that worked.
 

mnmtranching

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I like the "get the newborn while he's sleeping" method, much of the time they don't even wake up. Open the bander, place it over the sack pulling the sack to the proper placement. Just enough so there's room for 2.
Carefull not to get belly or teats. With the free hand work both nutz beyond the band and release. Sometimes you have to work at a nut, might be up inside.
I have had only 1 time out of many where I could not find 2, just wasn't there. This guy is marked and will end up in my freezer. :nod:
 

CattleHand

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Its always worth it to castrate.

This article forgot one big part... Fried Mountain Oysters :lol2:
 

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