Why wean calves?

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KAstocker

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Really you need to consider if the weight gain is worth it. When you wean and gain say 60 lbs, that calf enters a new class of animal. You have to evaluate if you're making more money to put on the weight than it costs you. Going from an unweaned to weaned calf will help even more with value of gain, but sometimes it still might not be enough.
 

puzzled in oregon

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$150.00 a ton is cheap/inexpensive hay for my area.. Lucky to get it for that straight out of the field.
Want nice quality hay here you may have to pay $300 to $400 a ton.
 

Brute 23

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That's not enough to fool with when you take out expenses unless you are selling a ton of calves. There is risk and a lot of other variables also.
 

Stocker Steve

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Really you need to consider if the weight gain is worth it. When you wean and gain say 60 lbs, that calf enters a new class of animal. You have to evaluate if you're making more money to put on the weight than it costs you. Going from an unweaned to weaned calf will help even more with value of gain, but sometimes it still might not be enough.
Yes, weaning financial calc includes market and sex and time of year and weight class of the animal.

Grazing a calf for a several months is a stocker operation, not weaning.

Here, you can usually profit more for an unweaned 5 wt in early October than a weaned 6 wt in November. Guys that have cheap feed, or like to speculate, or enjoy putting pounds on more than making money, will usually carry them till January or February.
 

Dave

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A couple other considerations for weaned calves is you can haul them to the sale a couple days early. If you use a reputable sale barn they will feed good and have good water. Here they have both. A weaned calf will gain back all the shrink lost in the haul. Also calves there early should go through the sale earlier. Here during the big fall runs there can be a huge price difference between the front of the sale and the end. Both of those factor can make a big difference on the bottom line.
 

cowgirl8

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And, you chance losing some.. This time of year, you chance them standing in cold mud if all you have is corrals for weaning. You stand them getting sick, despite all the vaccines you give.. You have a corral of calves who've been standing in mud, all get a runny nose the day you plan to haul them, (its happened to us).... Ripping the band aide off quick is what i like doing... We've tried... now, if we do it now, its just with heifers and we hold till Jan, that way, it wont go on the year befores taxes. We have a corral full of them right now, and luckily, its been warm and dry. Its almost never every dry, or warm...lol Anyone looking for replacements, i can fill that order. Lots of nice heifers we couldnt stand selling at the auction....
 
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bird dog

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To clarify things, I would not try weaning either if all I had was a small (dry) lot to put them in. Putting them on pasture even if its sorry will keep them much healthier. I have not ever lost any of the calves out of my cows in the last eight years with this method and only one of the calves I have bought. Sure a few have gotten sick over the years but alll have responded to treatment. Three to five days of fence line weaning and then off to the pasture away from the cows. It always helps to have a few already weaned ones out there to show them the ropes and calm down there fears. Even an old dry cow with the newly weaned ones helps out a lot.
 

Bigfoot

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I've sang the praises of selling a weaned calf v an unweaned calf on here 100 times. but right here is why I'll probably be stopping'


Copied from last weeks market report:
550-554 LBS @ 154.00.......Worth about $850
624-634 136.50 LBS @ 142.00 ....Worth about $850
724-735 LBS @ 128.00....Worth about $925

You cant justify putting on almost 200 pounds of weight for $75.
 

OBAX

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Because it costs you $50 to $75 per head at this time of the year if you don't. The sale report says $3.00 to $5.00 but it looks like around a dime a pound to me. With added shrink for unweaned calves, its probably closer to $100 per head loss.

Mainly it’s because it’s hard to spend $.19/lb to gain $.10/lb. Thats a losing proposition no matter your situation. I’ve always been a strong advocate of preconditioning calves before sale, but inputs are all so high now that it won’t pencil out.
I’m for producing snd selling the best product I can but not if it puts me in the red. I sold the majority of my calves this year at weaning and took less per pound, but came out ahead when inputs are added in. So I’ll never fault anybody that chooses that path.
 

GoWyo

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The main reason we background calves after weaning is to get the bull calves shaped up to go to the neighbor's feedlot to develop them, make final selections on replacement heifers before selling the ones we don't keep and to frame up the handful of steers we feed out before they go to the neighbor's feedlot. We only wind up auctioning about 1/3 of the calf crop. If we were straight commercial, I would be tempted to precondition 2-3 weeks before weaning and sell bawlers.

On the steers last year, I prefer to sell 1350-1450 pounders, and we had them on feed too long partly because we couldn't get a harvest date. August and early September are booked with county fair processing, so to hit mid-September we are going to just rough the steers on grass hay til February and then put them on feed. I think they will be framed up a little better, be more efficient on their gain and save a month and a half on the feed bill. Otherwise they need to go on feed in October and try to harvest in June or July, which makes for 1250-1300 pounders and virtually the same feed bill. Maybe it doesn't matter with total costs in the end, but going to try it anyway.
 

Dave

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I have been at a big feeder calf special which started selling at 6:00. At 4:30 my weaned calves were all lined up at the feed bunk except 3 which were at the water trough. At the same time calves fresh off the cow were either getting off trucks or standing bawling in pens. My calves didn't over fill but they sure had all the shrink back before they sold. For easy math figure a 500 pound calf at 5% shrink selling for $1.50. Not having that shrink is worth $37.50. If the calf brings an additional 10 cents because it is weaned and vaccinated that is another $50. That is another $87.50 minus about $10 for the vaccinations. That is $77.5 to the plus even if the weight gain just covers the feed cost.
 

cowgirl8

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As long as you dont lose any... It happens. And as long as the weather cooperates and doesnt plunge into the 30s with rain and mud. The 50+ heifers we've been feeding, we have a stampeder in the mix. One day they spooked the herd and they broke through a very secure gate by breaking a large chain that has been used for over 35 years and was one gate we never felt was one calves would go through.. Luckily, they got out into another pasture and not onto a road where they can make tracks and go who knows where losing one or two along the way. No one was hurt that we could tell other than a steer we held back because he was limping and planned to sell with the next steers ( he appears to have injured his neck now, who knows when that happened and if it was his original injury or did it busting through the gate) We'll lose a lot on him if he dies, or, we get yet another gimpy calf to put in the freezer. That takes some of that extra you'd make weaning... Weaning steers is too iffy... wean them one week and by the time you are ready to sell someone coughs mad cow on the news and prices are lower that sale.. Pull them off the cow at 6am, unload at a sale at 7:30am....
 

CalumetFarms

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I have trailer weaned on occasion, in a pinch with calves that need to move out (heifers in with bulls for instance).
For me, it all depends on what forage is available to supply to calves while weaned. if I can get them sorted early enough in the fall and keep them grazing I always wean. But going into winter I don't imagine it's worth it, never make up for the feed cost with the minimal daily gain. Unless you run a feedlot.
 

Silver

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I have been forward contracting my calves. When delivery date approaches I pull them off the cows, put them on feed and water overnight, weigh them first thing in the morning then load them on trucks. No shrink off the scale weight. There is no way weaning them would pay in this market.
Buyer delivers the scale right to the place and does any sorting he feels is required.
 

Ferd

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I’m keeping some heifers, so while I was weaning them I weaned the steers. There was a bull calf that I left on momma because I didn’t want the one in a hundred chance breeding of a too young heifer by a young bull.
I’ve done it both ways. I have sold them unweaned. Sometimes it obviously matters, other times not so much. I had to tell them during the auction that they were steers. I guess no balls wasn’t enough of a hint for them. 😡
 

OleScout

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In my area it's mostly small operators going to a small sale barn. Sort them off the cows this afternoon and haul to the sale barn next morning. They are through the ring by 3:00. No information follows them through the ring.
Fleshy or non black will get you $0.20-$0.40 deduct. Bull gets a $0.25- 0.35 deduct. Any chrome and you'll get less than $0.75.
I only wean the heifers I plan to keep.
 

moses388

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If you wean on hay/mineral alone they will tend to get a hay belly. I did that one time and took a beating at the sale barn. it may not matter if your gonna keep them. Also, if cattle are too fat from silage, etc. they won't ring the bell usually but they may be heavier.
I wean and background my calves. When I weaned this fall the calves turned into roly polys. I was considering trailer-weaning because of the drought, but I have never done that before. It would have saved some hay.
 

TCRanch

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Here's a perspective from the feedlot. Same buyer purchases my calves and they end up at Tiffany. One reason my calves are backgrounded and I provide documentation on DOB, sire, vaccinations, etc.
If the link doesn't open or starts at the beginning of the Angus Beef Bulletin, the article is on page 56. Or, I can copy/paste:

 

Hpacres440p

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Went to a beef se
Here's a perspective from the feedlot. Same buyer purchases my calves and they end up at Tiffany. One reason my calves are backgrounded and I provide documentation on DOB, sire, vaccinations, etc.
If the link doesn't open or starts at the beginning of the Angus Beef Bulletin, the article is on page 56. Or, I can copy/paste:

Went to a beef seminar at A&M 2 years ago. Interesting presentation by an auction owner-he said calves sold in October tend to be lowest price because of weather stress on trailer weaned calves, buyers know they’ll have sickness losses down the road at the yards. It may not be profitable for everyone to do it, but as part of good stewardship, it matters to the animals produced that they can have lower stress transitions.
 

BC

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One reason to wean is to avoid selling in October otherwise known as National Dead Calf Month. The Northeast Texas Beef Improvement Organization (NETBIO) in Sulphur Springs has closed the books at 6500 head for the November sale and has scheduled an additional sale for December for the ones that could not get in the November sale. They will have 9 of these sales this year. The NETBIO sales draw weaned, backgrounded calves from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
 

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