Beef Management Tips
Livestock Update, October 1999
John Hall and Bill McKinnon, animal scientists, Virginia Tech
October Beef Management Calendar
Spring Calving Herds
Fall calving herds
Treat for grubs now
November 1 is the cut-off date for treating cattle for grubs. After that date, grubs may have migrated to areas around the spinal cord and esophagus. If grubs are killed after they have moved to that location, they can cause a severe inflammatory reaction resulting in paralysis or suffocation of the cow. Grubs cause damage to the hide as they cut breathing hole in the skin of cattle. In addition, they reduce animal performance. Many types of pour-ons are available to treat grubs. They include organophosphates like Warbex, Spot-on, or Tiguvon as well as the new indecticides like Ivomec Pour-On, Dectomax, or Cydectin. John Hall
Pregnancy Check Cows at Weaning
Open cows should not be carried through the winter especially this winter with the short feed supply. Cows should be palpated by a veterinarian at weaning to determine pregnancy status. In addition, a good veterinarian can "age the fetus" to give producers expected calving dates for cows. Pregnancy checking costs only a few dollars per cow especially if it is combined with other management practices. Keeping any cow costs an average of $300 per year in Virginia. So if you keep an open cow you are giving away $300 without getting any return. John Hall
Targeting the Buyer
Sometimes we hear the tale of a feeder cattle producer who went the extra mile in putting together an excellent set of feeder cattle and felt unrewarded at sale time. Perhaps the calves represented an effective breeding program with growth potential and carcass merit. Maybe the calves had been given a complete vaccination program against respiratory disease. In any case, the seller felt that he had not been paid for his effort.
The failure may have been to put the cattle in a competitive marketing environment that recognizes and appreciates the superior package. Selling feeder cattle private treaty to the same order buyer or dealer who has always bought the cattle is guaranteed to fail to bring any premium. Why should the buyer pay more for the better prepared cattle if the market situation does not force him? The order buyer may have to put the set of value added cattle with some other cattle he has picked up to fill his order and so the value added cattle lose their identity and there relative value to the ultimate buyer.
Experience with Virginia feeder cattle marketing would seem to suggest that our farmer-feeder customers more readily appreciate the value of genetically superior or pre-vaccinated feeder cattle. Perhaps the smaller feeder maintains closer contact with each set of cattle he buys than the larger commercial lots. The farmer feeder is also more likely to buy his own cattle or use only one order buyer. The larger commercial feeder may not be certain of where or from whom his feeder cattle originated given the way that cattle may change hands several times between the sale of the cattle and the feedlot.
In summary, if the feeder cattle operator goes to the effort and expense to produce a set of value added feeders, he must target his potential buyers and put the cattle in a competitive marketing environment that recognizes the increased worth of the cattle to the buyer. Bill McKinnon