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Virginia Retained Ownership Program- Fall 2004

Livestock Update, September 2004

Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, VA Tech

The Virginia Retained Ownership Program is set to begin its 11th year of providing cow-calf producers an opportunity to participate in retained ownership. Through participation in the program, producers gain valuable insight as to the feedlot and carcass performance, profitability, and industry acceptability of their cattle. Again this year, the VA ROP will cooperate with the Tri-County Futurity in southwest Iowa. The TCSCF is a cooperative program that includes several feedyards in Southwest Iowa that custom feed and handle state-sponsored ROP cattle. The TCSCF is coordinated through Iowa State University Cooperative Extension, with oversight provided by a board of directors comprised of cow-calf producers, veterinarians, feedyard operators, and extension educators.

The following table summarizes the performance and financial aspects of the steers and heifers fed through the VA ROP in 2003-04.

  Sept. steers Dec. heifers Dec. steers (heavy) Dec. steers (light)
Ship date 9/26/03 12/3 -12/10/03 12/3 - 12/10/03 12/3 - 12/10/03
No. head 74 155 139 87
IA delivery wt., lb. 698 647 692 543
ADG, lb./day 3.25 2.81 3.32 3.30
Feed:gain 7.19 8.33 6.51 6.40
Harvest dates 2/25/04
Carcass price, $/cwt. 127.45 141.15 134.47 140.03
Cost of gain, $/cwt. 54.98 65.85 61.75 59.83
Retained Ownership Profit/loss, $/hd. 36.60 73.82 32.39 84.43

Each of these groups of cattle added value on average through retained ownership. Retained ownership profit/loss is defined as the difference between total carcass value and Virginia feeder calf value (based on grade and prevailing market price at the time the animal is sent to feed), less all feeding costs (feed & yardage, trucking, health, carcass data collection & program fees). The favorable cattle market this spring and summer, coupled with reasonable feeding costs and excellent performance/health allowed these groups of cattle to be profitable under retained ownership even though their value as feeder cattle last fall was quite high (many calves valued in excess of $90 cwt. when they were shipped to the feedyard). It is important to recognize that the above represents the average of each pen of cattle, including the deads and realizers. Within each pen, there was significant variability in performance and profitability.

Tentative fall 2004 shipment dates for VA ROP cattle (both steers and heifers accepted) have been set for September 24 and December 3. Producers can send as few as five head through the program. Producers planning on consigning cattle to the ROP program are encouraged to wean and background their cattle 45 days prior to shipment. Guidelines for a preshipment vaccination and management program are available through the local Extension office or from the VA ROP coordinator.

Virginia ROP provides the following information on an individual animal basis: average daily gain, estimated feed conversion, detailed carcass data (carcass weight, fat thickness, ribeye area, marbling score, USDA yield grade and quality grade), cost of gain analysis (feed, yardage, medical, and miscellaneous costs), and profit/loss closeout information on each calf. An advance is available on consignments of ten or more steers. Progress reports on the cattle are provided at 35 days on feed and at re-implant. Progress reports contain interim weights and performance, health status, and projected harvest dates, market conditions, and other information to keep consignors informed. During the finishing period, cattle are individually weighed at least four times. Each pen of cattle fed will be harvested on at least two different dates five weeks apart. Harvest date for each animal will be based on fat cover (target .40 inch) and estimated cost of additional gain. Cattle are sold on a carcass value grid that rewards both quality and cutability.

For more detailed information on the Virginia ROP, contact Scott Greiner, Extension Beef Specialist, Virginia Tech, phone 540-231-9159 or email


September 2004 Shipment

Name: _________________________________________

Address: _________________________________________



County: _________________________________________

Day Phone: _________________________________________

Night Phone: _________________________________________

Email: _________________________________________

  Steers Heifers*
Average Weight
(target = 650 lb.)
Weight Range
(500-900 accepted)
Average Age (months)    
Age Range (months)    
*please note that shipment of heifers is contingent on adequate consignment numbers

Preferred shipment location : ______________________________________

Shipment locations will be determined after all consignments are received and will be dependent on the number and geographic distribution of cattle to be sent.

Return with $5 per head consignment fee payable to the Virginia Cattle Feeder Assoc. by September 10 to:
Scott Greiner
366 Litton Reeves Hall
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Phone: 540/231-9163
Fax: 540/231-3713

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