OK. What I want to know, is how one is operated. What size are the calves when bought, 2-300 lbs? At what weight or time limit are they sold, and are they ran across the scales, sold to feed lots, or special buyers? What are the basics?
Stockers can run from just wean light weights, 200-300 to heavier weights, 500-600. In some cases even heavier. There are probably as many methods of raising/feeding them as athere are people doing it. Some are turned out on wheat stubble or other crop residue. Some are turned out on grass, maybe grained a little maybe not. It depends on the quality of the forage and how they're gaining. I think the Texas A&M site has information on stockers. We buy them when the grass starts coming on. Prices are higher because everyone is doing the same thing. We turn them out to keep ahead of the grass, run them for a couple of months. When the grass slows down we ship them. In small lots they go through the salebarn to order buyers. In large lots you can sell directly to feed lots or retain ownership and ship them to the feedlot. I'm sure there are others that do it different, and have a better grasp of the retained ownership with hte attendent methods of decrasing your risk.
> OK. What I want to know, is how
> one is operated. What size are the
> calves when bought, 2-300 lbs? At
> what weight or time limit are they
> sold, and are they ran across the
> scales, sold to feed lots, or
> special buyers? What are the
> Thanks! That points me in the
> right direction. Do county Ag
> agents know anything about this?
Some know a lot more than others. And if your are serious about getting into the business of raising stockers you need to get with a good large animal vet (or someone with significant experience) to design a vaccination and worming program. One of the most critical phases, if not the most, is getting the calves from the sale barn (or seller's ranch) onto your place in a healthy condition. Lots of "bugs" floating around sale barns, and also have shipping fever, etc. to be concerned with. Essentially you will need to plan on giving them a sort of "barrage" of shots on the day they arrive at your place. A few sick or dead ones can pretty well reduce your chances of making a profit. Need a good order buyer if you are not sufficiently experienced. Learn what you can about hedging. Obviously you need to learn all you can about the markets you will be selling into and buying from. Need to have well informed and thought out decisions as to whether you will buy pre-conditioned animals or those just off the cow, weight ranges, breed specifics, steers versus heifers, etc., etc. Consider yourself to be a farmer --- your crop is grass, so you really need to know how to grow it --- your "combine" is the calves. Those are just a few issues to learn about, there are many more.
All good advice here. If you haven't already read it between the lines, the message is that running stockers is risky.
As always in cattle, there are a lot of things that are beyond your control and no matter how hard/smart you work, it can blow up on you. With stockers, it boils down to the fact that you are loading up a lot of your eggs into one basket. Not only are all the normal risks in place, but by nature of the game you must concentrate your entry into the market (as buyer and seller) into a narrow time slot.
That means when you put X dollars up, you stand a good chance of winning bigger – or loosing bigger – than if you had put it into a regular cow/calf production operation. I don't know anybody that has done it much and not lost money from time to time, even when properly hedged.
If you're using discretionary money and you're willing and able to absorb a loss now and then, have fun. If you're betting the rent money, forget the whole idea.
I didn't read every response, Jim, but have you considered taking stockers in on a "gain" basis? You only furnish the grass and possibly some management. When the grass is gone, the owner takes the calves somewhere else and pays you for the pounds of gain while they were on your grass. You're not out big bucks to buy the animals and don't take the hit if the market goes south or some die.
> Thanks to everyone for the info.
> It does sound riskier than I'd
> like, and I guess the cow/calf
> operation seems a better way to
JIM, I HAVE BEEN RUNNING WEIGHT GAIN STOCKERS FOR THE PAST 3 YRS. I HAVE DONE VERY WELL IN THE PAST. HAVE NOT LOST ANY CALVES,SO FAR!!! i HAVE MADE BETWEEN 35-40% ON MAY INVESTMENT. I SUPPLY THE GRASS AND KEEP THE CALVES IN GOOD HEALTH. I SIGN A CONTRACT FOR X AMT OF CENTS PER POUND OF GAIN. I NORMALLY HAVE THE CALVES BETWEEN 130-150 DAYS. YOU MAY CONSIDER RUNNING SOME WEIGHT GAIN AND YOUR OWN CATTLE. BECAREFUL WITH THE CONTRACTS SOME WILL BE COMBINED WT AND OTHERS INDIVIDUAL WT. AT THE END OF THE CONTRACT. SOME PROS AND CONS TO CONSIDER ALSO.