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Why didn't they gain much?......confused

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Z&J Cattle

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So, here is my situation. I will provide as much information as possible, some of it probably even irrelavant, but I am really puzzled here and seeking some insight. I sold 12 Angus/AngusX heifers today that when I bought them weighed an average of 510# ( I even went back and checked the salebarn ticket to be positive). I bought them 150 days ago, brought them home, doctored any snotty noses/etc.... gave them two rounds of black leg and two rounds of triangle 4, and dewormed them. They were grazing stockpiled fescue pasture and were given good quality bermuda/fescue hay from a very nice hay field nearby that is well taken care of/fertilized, etc.... The hay was provided free choice all winter and of course they ate it more when the weather was bad and grazed the stockpiled grass when it was mild. They were give a supplement of 4#/hd. per day of a feed mix that is right around 15% protein and it runs 12-15% fat content. They also had good, free choice mineral at all times. I tried to be selective when I bought them and buy good quality animals. I feel that I have a decent eye, although I am far from an expert. Now for the bad part. I will tell you their average weight today (150 days later). It was 555# for an average gain of 45#/hd. That's .3# ADG. What happened? I am totally at a loss. I thought that it seemed like they may not be gaining at a rapid rate, but being that I see them twice a day everyday, I just thought that maybe it was hard for me to tell. I feel like I did everything as close to the correct way as possible, but obvioulsy something is amiss to say the least. Her is another interesting bit of information. I sat in the barn watching calves sell for 4.5 hours waiting on mine and paid extremely close attention to heifers that size. Mine brought as much if not more than any group of heifers of the same size/color/type/etc..... The ringman, who also owns the barn, even commented to me how good the calves looked. I can't complain at all about they price per pound. They just didn't gain. Any insight on this would be greatly appreciated. One last question. In hindsight, given their terrible gain rate, couldn't they probably have done just as well without the $500 worth of feed that I put into them? The bottom line is that financially, I broke even. And I mean EVEN. I did not make one penny on them, but thankfully I did not lose. The bad part is that I sold them for $10.00cwt more than what I bought them for and if they had gained properly, I would have done very well. Oh well. I am all ears.
 

dun

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Most calves don;t gain very well over the winter. Stockpiled fescue is very low in protein, 4 lbs a day is less then 1% of their body weight.
Pretty much sounds like inadequate high quality feed.
 

cross_7

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Z&J Cattle":1lmgbf5e said:
So, here is my situation. I will provide as much information as possible, some of it probably even irrelavant, but I am really puzzled here and seeking some insight. I sold 12 Angus/AngusX heifers today that when I bought them weighed an average of 510# ( I even went back and checked the salebarn ticket to be positive). I bought them 150 days ago, brought them home, doctored any snotty noses/etc.... gave them two rounds of black leg and two rounds of triangle 4, and dewormed them. They were grazing stockpiled fescue pasture and were given good quality bermuda/fescue hay from a very nice hay field nearby that is well taken care of/fertilized, etc.... The hay was provided free choice all winter and of course they ate it more when the weather was bad and grazed the stockpiled grass when it was mild. They were give a supplement of 4#/hd. per day of a feed mix that is right around 15% protein and it runs 12-15% fat content. They also had good, free choice mineral at all times. I tried to be selective when I bought them and buy good quality animals. I feel that I have a decent eye, although I am far from an expert. Now for the bad part. I will tell you their average weight today (150 days later). It was 555# for an average gain of 45#/hd. That's .3# ADG. What happened? I am totally at a loss. I thought that it seemed like they may not be gaining at a rapid rate, but being that I see them twice a day everyday, I just thought that maybe it was hard for me to tell. I feel like I did everything as close to the correct way as possible, but obvioulsy something is amiss to say the least. Her is another interesting bit of information. I sat in the barn watching calves sell for 4.5 hours waiting on mine and paid extremely close attention to heifers that size. Mine brought as much if not more than any group of heifers of the same size/color/type/etc..... The ringman, who also owns the barn, even commented to me how good the calves looked. I can't complain at all about they price per pound. They just didn't gain. Any insight on this would be greatly appreciated. One last question. In hindsight, given their terrible gain rate, couldn't they probably have done just as well without the $500 worth of feed that I put into them? The bottom line is that financially, I broke even. And I mean EVEN. I did not make one penny on them, but thankfully I did not lose. The bad part is that I sold them for $10.00cwt more than what I bought them for and if they had gained properly, I would have done very well. Oh well. I am all ears.

i'm going to assume everything (scale) was on the up and up and you bought the calves and not an order buyer.
first off i can't see where 4#'s of feed and hay only cost 500.00
did you feed every day ?
how cold was it ?
snotty noses and etc..how many were sick and for how long ?
where they sold as a group or each
reason being, i would like to know if they all gained poorly or where there a few that brought down the average ?

i'm guessing and just guessing..no way to know w/o seeing first hand
you bought fat fleshy heifers that had not been weaned and they got sick and lost weight/fat before getting straightened out and you had to put the weight they lost back on.
not sure about the feed(hay/grass)..may not of had the protein required for growth
if you had grass available this spring, i feel like you would have been better off holding them for another 45-60 days on fresh spring grass and i bet they would have really taken off (jmo)
but thats what works here in texas.
i'm not familar with your neck of the woods so i maybe way off here .
fyi
i can't make it pay if i have to buy much feed
and i sure can't feed 4#'s a day per head plus hay for 150 days for 500.00
but my feed cost may be higher than yours
 

Jogeephus

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If your area is like mine and has been short of rainfall, the forage has been miserablely poor - probably no better than filler. For me, this year's nonpampered calves have gained the least in my short history. I even put a creep feeder in a pasture with 3 tons of surplus feed in it. They began to blossom a bit but then reverted when the feeder ran out. In my situation, I know all I was doing was providing a maintence diet for them cause I wasn't willing to break the bank to increase their ration. I suspect you were in the same situation.
 

HerefordSire

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Z&J Cattle":24nsmagr said:
So, here is my situation. I will provide as much information as possible, some of it probably even irrelavant, but I am really puzzled here and seeking some insight. I sold 12 Angus/AngusX heifers today that when I bought them weighed an average of 510# ( I even went back and checked the salebarn ticket to be positive). I bought them 150 days ago, brought them home, doctored any snotty noses/etc.... gave them two rounds of black leg and two rounds of triangle 4, and dewormed them. They were grazing stockpiled fescue pasture and were given good quality bermuda/fescue hay from a very nice hay field nearby that is well taken care of/fertilized, etc.... The hay was provided free choice all winter and of course they ate it more when the weather was bad and grazed the stockpiled grass when it was mild. They were give a supplement of 4#/hd. per day of a feed mix that is right around 15% protein and it runs 12-15% fat content. They also had good, free choice mineral at all times. I tried to be selective when I bought them and buy good quality animals. I feel that I have a decent eye, although I am far from an expert. Now for the bad part. I will tell you their average weight today (150 days later). It was 555# for an average gain of 45#/hd. That's .3# ADG. What happened? I am totally at a loss. I thought that it seemed like they may not be gaining at a rapid rate, but being that I see them twice a day everyday, I just thought that maybe it was hard for me to tell. I feel like I did everything as close to the correct way as possible, but obvioulsy something is amiss to say the least. Her is another interesting bit of information. I sat in the barn watching calves sell for 4.5 hours waiting on mine and paid extremely close attention to heifers that size. Mine brought as much if not more than any group of heifers of the same size/color/type/etc..... The ringman, who also owns the barn, even commented to me how good the calves looked. I can't complain at all about they price per pound. They just didn't gain. Any insight on this would be greatly appreciated. One last question. In hindsight, given their terrible gain rate, couldn't they probably have done just as well without the $500 worth of feed that I put into them? The bottom line is that financially, I broke even. And I mean EVEN. I did not make one penny on them, but thankfully I did not lose. The bad part is that I sold them for $10.00cwt more than what I bought them for and if they had gained properly, I would have done very well. Oh well. I am all ears.

Either you got lucky and broken even like you said or you are miscalculating something. I would think you should have lost money unless you hit the market perfectly. Even if their average daily gain was 3 pounds per day, you could have lost money. The hay you fed the cattle could have been worth more than the profit.
 

SANDTRAP

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what?":370dsio0 said:
Z&J Cattle":370dsio0 said:
The bad part is that I sold them for $10.00cwt more than what I bought them for and if they had gained properly, I would have done very well. Oh well. I am all ears.
HAD YOUR CATTLE WEIGHED THE 930 POUNDS THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE WEIGHED YOU NEVER WOULD HAVE GOTTEN $10.00CWT MORE THAN YOU PAID THOUGH.

ok
so why didn't they weigh 930 lbs ?
 

Howdyjabo

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You probably bought them too fleshy .And it sounds like your hay wasn't very good. No more feed than they were getting it Probably left you short on Protein and some energy.


As somebody pointed out- you may have made(lost the least) the most money accidentally anyhow-
 
OP
Z

Z&J Cattle

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So it sounds like the general consensus is that I bought calves that were too fleshy to begin with. I could see that for sure. I bought calves that looked "good" to me, which for the most part translated into them being fleshy. I would say that most if not all of them were not weaned because they bawled pretty strong for 4-5 days after we brought them home. When I bought them, I just bought one calf at a time rather than buying them in a group that was already put together in an effort to save money. In hindsight, it almost definitely didn't. Obviously pre weaned/pre vac calves will cost more up front and I just had it in my head that I would not recoop the additional money spent. Let's say that pre weaned/vac calves bring .10 cents more. That's $50 on a 500# calf. I can give a lot of shots for $50, so I wouldn't be so worried about the pre vac part, but the pre weaned part is starting to look more worth it all the time. I know enough to know that a calf will back up for 30 days or so after weaning, I've just never looked at it from the perspective that it probably takes another 30 days to regain the lost weight, so essentially 60 days are lost. For the most part, the calves that I bought probably didn't stand a chance to gain above what I bought them at except maybe during the last 90 days. Other than the owner just standing up and saying that a group of calves are weaned, what are some other signs to look for? Obviously if they are bawling constantly, that is probably a red flag. But a lot of times they will be quiet in the ring and won't start bawling until after you get them home. I want to try the same thing again next fall. It kinda stinks that I didn't make anything, but it could have been worse and you can't learn until you just do it yourself. I will do a better job of buying next time. I've had more than one old cattleman tell me that sometimes on feeders you make money, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you break even. It happens to everyone at some point. So looking at it that way, I guess for my first time with feeders it could have definitely been worse. Thanks to everyone for the great insight.

Zach
 

jedstivers

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Zach, if you can run them in wheat they will do much better. Also I've gotten lots of advice from the Extension nutritionist, Shane Gadberry. They have a stocker program at Batesville with lots of info.
 

cross_7

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Zach
i've bought calves
i've used an order buyer
i've had the sale barn owner buy'em for me
and i've always had trouble with a few (sometimes more than a few)

there is no way to know if the calves are weaned when buying at an auction(unless you ask and
they will always be weaned ...just like all heifer are bred to low birthweight black bulls :lol: )

i've seriously considered buying vac 45 catlle but like you i can't justify the cost on a single load.
now if i were running 1000's of calves then, then i could see it paying ..(labor cost & etc.)

i've tried buying from local people but it's seems like they think thier calves are worth more than what they are bring at the sale barn(same ones that call the sale barn and complain that their cattle sold too cheap)

i like to run calves on wheat pasture but some years thats not an option (like this one)
and those years i just try to maintain the calves til spring then put them on grass and hope they gain good for 60-90 days and take my lumps.

with steers
some years you win
some years you lose
you just hope for a winning average

maybe howdyjabo will chime in
she feeds lots of cattle and i bet she has an idea or two.
 

Howdyjabo

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Its tough to make money right now- but getting the right calves is half the battle.
You or your buyer has to have a good eye.
I use an order buyer- if you find the right one you can;t beat it. Saves you spending the whole day trying to cut in on the regulars to get a few calves bought right. Mine even delivers after the sale- well worth the money I spend. If it was a crook or bad buyer theres no better way to loose money.

When buying fresh bull calves--- if I weight them at 30 days they will have barely gained(fat calves will have lost weight- they need to go right into a finishing operation)). At 60 days I expect 1- 1.5lbs(and that with being fed right). At 90 days I expect 2-2.5 lbs. I rarely keep them on my feed that long- I am getting them too fat on my feed and they need less or need to go. I either send them to the feedlot,sell them or turn them out to mostly pasture with some supplements. The goal is to have them always gaining but not so much that they get fat. It costs too much to haul fat calves and they shrink too much- buyers will dock you. And with the cost of feed its throwing big money away to give them more than they need. But if you don't feed enough to tip over the edge of maintenance you are loosing money.
Or you can grow frame(gain frame but not much weight) cheap on grass over the winter(might need to supplement protein)- then let them flesh up during the spring grass spurt(only way I can get good gains on grass) . But thats keeping them for a longggg time. But if you have nothing better to do with your land/grass, the calves sure don't :)

For good weight gain, You have to exceed their maintenance needs . and its tough to do on just grass/hay (unless you have them on wheat or drilled in an annual)- I have to supplement 40-50% byproducts(on 4-6 wts). Plus supplementing that much on fescue gets rid of the "fescue" look so they resell better. Weight gain is a funny thing once you feed enough to go over maintenance it only takes just a little more to put you into good gains. For a real basic example 6lbs of feed meets maintenance, 8 lbs gets you some gain--- But just 8.5lb will make them bloom. Well worth the extra .5 lbs.
I'll give you a big boost-- when buying calves off of fescue, spending money on a shot of Multi-Min is well worth it(15% jump in weight gain).
And my first concern is to meet their protein needs- all the forage and energy in the world is a waste if you don't have the protein for them to make use of it.

I'm looking for a calf with good frame that was just a bit short on groceries.
Its tough to grow a profit on shorts or cheap calves- theres a reason they go for less.
Color and some ear doesn't bother me if I retain ownership- but if they are getting resold they had to be cheap.

I won't let my calves on stockpiled fescue unless I am feeding the snot out of them and I just need some roughage. That stuff just barely meets cows needs.

Buying preconditioned calves is worth it if you are lacking in skills,facilities and time. They will backset the first 30 days but not as hard and the odd are you will have less health problems(make sure they are not FAT ). Make sure they were really preconditioned(lots of liars out there) and preconditioned right.
There are some buyers out there that will set you up with a group of good calves and then resell them for you. They have a vested interest in getting you the best calves they can find,especially if they get to do it year after year.

PS- I'll put a load together for you :)
 

cross_7

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Howdyjabo":1276tonl said:
Its tough to make money right now- but getting the right calves is half the battle.
You or your buyer has to have a good eye.
I use an order buyer- if you find the right one you can;t beat it. Saves you spending the whole day trying to cut in on the regulars to get a few calves bought right. Mine even delivers after the sale- well worth the money I spend. If it was a crook or bad buyer theres no better way to loose money.

When buying fresh bull calves--- if I weight them at 30 days they will have barely gained(fat calves will have lost weight- they need to go right into a finishing operation)). At 60 days I expect 1- 1.5lbs(and that with being fed right). At 90 days I expect 2-2.5 lbs. I rarely keep them on my feed that long- I am getting them too fat on my feed and they need less or need to go. I either send them to the feedlot,sell them or turn them out to mostly pasture with some supplements. The goal is to have them always gaining but not so much that they get fat. It costs too much to haul fat calves and they shrink too much- buyers will dock you. And with the cost of feed its throwing big money away to give them more than they need. But if you don't feed enough to tip over the edge of maintenance you are loosing money.
Or you can grow frame(gain frame but not much weight) cheap on grass over the winter(might need to supplement protein)- then let them flesh up during the spring grass spurt(only way I can get good gains on grass) . But thats keeping them for a longggg time. But if you have nothing better to do with your land/grass, the calves sure don't :)

For good weight gain, You have to exceed their maintenance needs . and its tough to do on just grass/hay (unless you have them on wheat or drilled in an annual)- I have to supplement 40-50% byproducts(on 4-6 wts). Plus supplementing that much on fescue gets rid of the "fescue" look so they resell better. Weight gain is a funny thing once you feed enough to go over maintenance it only takes just a little more to put you into good gains. For a real basic example 6lbs of feed meets maintenance, 8 lbs gets you some gain--- But just 8.5lb will make them bloom. Well worth the extra .5 lbs.
I'll give you a big boost-- when buying calves off of fescue, spending money on a shot of Multi-Min is well worth it(15% jump in weight gain).
And my first concern is to meet their protein needs- all the forage and energy in the world is a waste if you don't have the protein for them to make use of it.

I'm looking for a calf with good frame that was just a bit short on groceries.
Its tough to grow a profit on shorts or cheap calves- theres a reason they go for less.
Color and some ear doesn't bother me if I retain ownership- but if they are getting resold they had to be cheap.

I won't let my calves on stockpiled fescue unless I am feeding the snot out of them and I just need some roughage. That stuff just barely meets cows needs.

Buying preconditioned calves is worth it if you are lacking in skills,facilities and time. They will backset the first 30 days but not as hard and the odd are you will have less health problems(make sure they are not FAT ). Make sure they were really preconditioned(lots of liars out there) and preconditioned right.
There are some buyers out there that will set you up with a group of good calves and then resell them for you. They have a vested interest in getting you the best calves they can find,especially if they get to do it year after year.

PS- I'll put a load together for you :)

karen
on your example above
how much crude protein(percentage)are you feeding ?
i have heard on 5 weight steers you need a ration of 18-20% crude protein.
 

Howdyjabo

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To start calves I aim for
under 450 needs alot - and it needs to be good quality (I don't do that size much)
under 550 needs 14 +
under 650 needs 13+

And this is for the total ration- to get this the supplement may have to be 18% or more


The higher protein is because they usually are not eating alot therefore every bite they do eat has to have more umph(only don't umph the starch). As consumption increases and the calves stabilize you can lower the protein.
 

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