What size do you sell?

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Hogfarmer10

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I’m sure it’s been brought up before but I’m curious. First I’ll try to describe my operation. About 80 Charolais cows, as well as about 15-20 Angus. Currently all being bred to either an Angus bull or a Gelbvieh bull. Cows are split up into 4 “herds”. All calves are weaned at least 60 days, wormed, and vaccinated. Each herd has basically 2 calving seasons, with the larger percentage of calves born late summer/early fall, remaining roughly 30% are born in spring. Now the question. At what weight does most everyone sell their calves? Years ago, most of the calves around me were sold around 500lbs. Now it seems that most people hold until around 650-700lbs. Especially the steers. Heifers usually are closer to the 600 lb mark. And have you found there is a better time of year to sell? (Other than the obvious spring “green up”). I’m in East TN and I am talking about just selling at the local stockyard.
 

MurraysMutts

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For now, I sell mine right off the cow at weaning.
I'd like em to be 600lbs. But I've been doing good to get around 500. Steers do better than heifers. And the last crop was mostly heifers!
They were around 450ish off the top of my head.
Working on it....

Serious small timer here. Usually sell 10 to 15 at a time.
 

Silver

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Don’t know how you came to that conclusion. I’ve had cattle a lot longer than the hogs. I’m just curious to see what other folks do
You’ll have to excuse the local ankle biter, he can’t help himself.
With regards to size, in this area we have a rather narrow window of opportunity to get things done. On this operation we calve mostly in March and into April, wean mid October straight onto the trucks. Calves weigh what they weigh at this time, there is no holding them for additional weight. A 210 day old steer calf out of a cow will probably be over 700 lbs, a steer from a heifer will average 100 lbs less
 
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Hogfarmer10

Hogfarmer10

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Thanks guys. I usually sell mine in small groups too. Usually, it’s just however many I can get in my 20’ trailer. Usually I will take the steers one week and keep the heifers an extra couple weeks. But, I’m in an odd situation, where my dad has his own herd, I have my own herd, and “the farm” has the other 2 herds. I manage and do all the work, so they’re all managed the same way. My dad honestly hasn’t been in a pasture in years (disabled), but he still has his opinions. He’s of the type that he wants to retain until 850lbs or so, I’m more of the 600-700lb type. I still haven’t figured out the best timing to sell, but for some reason, the owner of the stockyard is very adamant about not selling them in October. He swears they just don’t sell as good. Any cull cattle that we have, we generally try to sell them during the first sale of the year.(if possible) Stockyard owner also swears by that, and so far, he’s been right.
 

moses388

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Sold a few late-summer/fall calves in May 2022.
1 steer @ 565 lbs
2 steer avg 818 lbs
5 steer avg 498 lbs
2 steer avg 695 lbs
5 heifer avg 584 lbs
 

farmerjan

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Here in Va, the most return for the weight is in the 450-600 wt range... Most of the steers we like to sell at 525-575... heifers will run 425-525.. most in the 475 range. 650-800 wts are the WORST size here... there are not enough of them marketed so the buyers cannot make up truck loads... I will see a 550-6 wt steer bring 1.80-1.90 and a 7 wt steer bring 1.30-1.40. Both beef steers... both decent quality... there just is not the market here for that weight range. Therefore you gain nothing by the extra weight gain unless you are just pulling them directly off the cow... but then again, they are eating more grass and/or hay so you are not getting the return. With the increased costs of hay and grain this year... I cannot see where it will benefit to keep them longer/heavier.

It is going to hurt prices also for the lighter weight ones if there is a shortage of feed/corn etc... as well as the drought conditions out in the plains and midwestern states if it continues and the hay prices go way up. Fertilizer is being applied sparingly, or if at all... so hay yields will go down, making costs go up.
Another thing is that selling bulls as opposed to steers is just plain leaving money on the table. We buy alot of 450-550 wt bull calves and work and vacc and then make up groups to sell.... we have several people that we sell calves to in the spring... know what they want.. and we can make some money on the bull calves that we can buy and castrate and all, and then put into groups... but feed this year might not lend its self to doing that as much.
Gotta spend time at the stockyard and see what is bringing what...

Fall, everyone is shipping so if they are real good, they ought to do good... if they are mediocre, they will be discounted due to there being so many available.... We try to sell some in late summer... Aug..... before the glut hits in Sept/Oct.... we never sell during hunting season (mid Nov-Dec)... cull cows usually do good the 1st sale of the new year... but they have been pretty good the last few months... and we are not keeping or feeding anything now that doesn't get bred on time, etc... costs to much to maintain.... Try to sell in groups...even 3-4 is better than singles....and one market here gets better prices for the colored calves and another the blacks...
 

A.J.

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The other folks in this thread have already given you some good input, and I can’t add much to it. We wean our calves at around 6-7 months and they will typically average around 575-625 at that time. We started preconditioning our calves for 45 days before selling a few years back and found that it’s worth the extra effort and expense to do so. I’m a small producer, so the local cattle alliance/feeder calf sales that are held several times a year helps us by getting enough head together for truckload lots that the buyers will pay more for at than the regular weekly sale. Sometimes you just have to sell them when you can, but if I have some calves to go to the weekly sale, I try to avoid selling in July and October. One of my older friends that trades cattle for a living told me years ago that, at least in our market, those are months to avoid selling calves if I can due to the prices going down some due to the heat in July and the temperature swings in October making the calves more likely to get sick. The market the last few years hasn’t been as seasonably predictable with what prices will do, so it’s hard to know for sure when is the best time. Usually the week before or after I sell mine is the best time. Ha ha.
 

sstterry

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I’m sure it’s been brought up before but I’m curious. First I’ll try to describe my operation. About 80 Charolais cows, as well as about 15-20 Angus. Currently all being bred to either an Angus bull or a Gelbvieh bull. Cows are split up into 4 “herds”. All calves are weaned at least 60 days, wormed, and vaccinated. Each herd has basically 2 calving seasons, with the larger percentage of calves born late summer/early fall, remaining roughly 30% are born in spring. Now the question. At what weight does most everyone sell their calves? Years ago, most of the calves around me were sold around 500lbs. Now it seems that most people hold until around 650-700lbs. Especially the steers. Heifers usually are closer to the 600 lb mark. And have you found there is a better time of year to sell? (Other than the obvious spring “green up”). I’m in East TN and I am talking about just selling at the local stockyard.
Are you selling at Greenville or are you taking them somewhere else? I can tell you that last year, I put a pencil to it and I trailer weaned mine because I just could not justify holding them. I sent some last month, and they were in the 500-600 range with the heifers in the high 400s. I was satisfied with what they brought.
 
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Hogfarmer10

Hogfarmer10

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Yep. I take mine to Greeneville. I’ve ran them through the normal weekly sales, as well as through the feeder alliance sales. I usually seem to do just as good or better when I just run them through the weekly sale. Honestly, the big reasons I retain after weaning are because I simply have a great pasture to put them, as well as I can usually get them “evened up”, plus, the most petty reason, I can spend a little more time with them. All my cattle have my name on their ear tags. I want to sell something that, when it goes through the ring, I can be proud. Plus, with the heifers, if they go through calm, healthy, slick, and sensibly, it seems like more farmers are interested instead of just the feedlot buyers. An extra bid or 2 sure doesn’t hurt.
 

BFE

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I sold at a feeder special in April for the first time and did pretty good. We’ll worth the time of two rounds of vacs. I plan on doing it again in a couple months with some unworked purchased calves, hopefully it will be worth it to “add value” to them.
 

A.J.

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Yep. I take mine to Greeneville. I’ve ran them through the normal weekly sales, as well as through the feeder alliance sales. I usually seem to do just as good or better when I just run them through the weekly sale. Honestly, the big reasons I retain after weaning are because I simply have a great pasture to put them, as well as I can usually get them “evened up”, plus, the most petty reason, I can spend a little more time with them. All my cattle have my name on their ear tags. I want to sell something that, when it goes through the ring, I can be proud. Plus, with the heifers, if they go through calm, healthy, slick, and sensibly, it seems like more farmers are interested instead of just the feedlot buyers. An extra bid or 2 sure doesn’t hurt.
I’ve talked to several folks lately that in Knoxville calves are bringing .20 or more better than Greeneville. Alot of times the heifers have the biggest price difference in the two places it sounds like. If you have several head or a trailer load to sell at a time it might be worth driving the extra distance there. Neighbor took a couple trailer loads there and was very pleased with what they brought compared to what he had been getting in Greeneville.
 

Dave

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Here calves are weaned when the cows come of the range land for 45-60 days. When cows come out of the hills varies some but generally September to November.
 

BC

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Thanks guys. I usually sell mine in small groups too. Usually, it’s just however many I can get in my 20’ trailer. Usually I will take the steers one week and keep the heifers an extra couple weeks. But, I’m in an odd situation, where my dad has his own herd, I have my own herd, and “the farm” has the other 2 herds. I manage and do all the work, so they’re all managed the same way. My dad honestly hasn’t been in a pasture in years (disabled), but he still has his opinions. He’s of the type that he wants to retain until 850lbs or so, I’m more of the 600-700lb type. I still haven’t figured out the best timing to sell, but for some reason, the owner of the stockyard is very adamant about not selling them in October. He swears they just don’t sell as good. Any cull cattle that we have, we generally try to sell them during the first sale of the year.(if possible) Stockyard owner also swears by that, and so far, he’s been right.
October is known as National Dead Calf Month and the reason for lower prices as buyers figure in a higher death loss. It is also the reason you are seeing more buyers wanting them weaned 60 days and have the calves immune system stimulated with the proper vaccines. The reason for the increased sickness in fresh weaned calves in October is the big swings in day time and night time temperatures. We see more sickness when the difference is 30+ degrees between day time and night time.
 

kenny thomas

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I’ve talked to several folks lately that in Knoxville calves are bringing .20 or more better than Greeneville. Alot of times the heifers have the biggest price difference in the two places it sounds like. If you have several head or a trailer load to sell at a time it might be worth driving the extra distance there. Neighbor took a couple trailer loads there and was very pleased with what they brought compared to what he had been getting in Greeneville.
Weekly sales at Greenville and at Mascot are recorded by a State person not connected to either sale. Compare the results. A friend from south of Rogersville was going to Greenville and has changed and is very happy. Send me a PM and I can have someone call you if you have questions.
 

Warren Allison

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I’m sure it’s been brought up before but I’m curious. First I’ll try to describe my operation. About 80 Charolais cows, as well as about 15-20 Angus. Currently all being bred to either an Angus bull or a Gelbvieh bull. Cows are split up into 4 “herds”. All calves are weaned at least 60 days, wormed, and vaccinated. Each herd has basically 2 calving seasons, with the larger percentage of calves born late summer/early fall, remaining roughly 30% are born in spring. Now the question. At what weight does most everyone sell their calves? Years ago, most of the calves around me were sold around 500lbs. Now it seems that most people hold until around 650-700lbs. Especially the steers. Heifers usually are closer to the 600 lb mark. And have you found there is a better time of year to sell? (Other than the obvious spring “green up”). I’m in East TN and I am talking about just selling at the local stockyard.
Here in north Ga, they bring the most per pound at he local sales at 400-499 lbs. . Next best price per pound will be the 500-599 range. Most calves will be that size at weaning...about 5- 6 months old. Here, it is done like you do it... how ever many will fit in a 20" trailer. Most people calve year around. A trailer-weaned calf will bring just as much as one that someone has weaned and fed and vaccinated, etc. so no body much wastes the money to do those things. Steers will bring a little more than bull calves most of the time, and heifers bring less than that. If you tag your calves at birth or soon after it is worth the price of a band or a single edge razor blade to steer them. On a day that 450lb steers average, say, $1.50, the bulls probably average $1.40-$1.45, and the heifers $1.35- $1.40. Black and BWF will bring an average of 20 cents a pound more than red, white or any other color.
 

Lucky

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Here in north Ga, they bring the most per pound at he local sales at 400-499 lbs. . Next best price per pound will be the 500-599 range. Most calves will be that size at weaning...about 5- 6 months old. Here, it is done like you do it... how ever many will fit in a 20" trailer. Most people calve year around. A trailer-weaned calf will bring just as much as one that someone has weaned and fed and vaccinated, etc. so no body much wastes the money to do those things. Steers will bring a little more than bull calves most of the time, and heifers bring less than that. If you tag your calves at birth or soon after it is worth the price of a band or a single edge razor blade to steer them. On a day that 450lb steers average, say, $1.50, the bulls probably average $1.40-$1.45, and the heifers $1.35- $1.40. Black and BWF will bring an average of 20 cents a pound more than red, white or any other color.
So the buyers can make $3,600 on a truck load of 450# bull calves by simply cutting them. I used to think it's only $.08 cents too....
 

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