You've reached the Virginia Cooperative Extension Newsletter Archive. These files cover more than ten years of newsletters posted on our old website (through April/May 2009), and are provided for historical purposes only. As such, they may contain out-of-date references and broken links.

To see our latest newsletters and current information, visit our website at

Newsletter Archive index:

Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

The Cattle Business -- Fall R.O.P. Shipments

Livestock Update, October 1998

Bill R. McKinnon, Extension Animal Scientist, Marketing, Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech

On September 22, consignors loaded 338 steers and heifers for shipment to Kansas as part of Virginia's Retained Ownership Program. This group of cattle represented the largest ROP shipment in the five years of the program. There were 225 steers and 113 heifers shipped by the 18 consignors. The steers will be fed at the Decatur County Feed Yard near Oberlin, Kansas. The heifers were shipped to Hitch II Feeders south of Garden City, Kansas.

With the current combination of lower feeder cattle prices and cheap corn, this fall seemed like an advantageous time to participate in the ROP. Participants will receive information on rate of gain, finished weight and carcass characteristics of their cattle. At shipment time each feeder steer or heifer was weighed, graded and classified as to breed type so that a current feeder cattle value could be assigned to each animal. The cost of gain and closeout profit/loss is calculated on each head so consignors can learn more about the custom feeding and the relative performance of their cattle.

Across the country more cow/calf operations are retaining ownership on their cattle through the feedlot. At the same time there has been increased participation in beef alliances were the majority of cattle are marketed on a carcass value basis. Both of these developments have fueled the desire of cow/calf operators to know more about the post-weaning performance and carcass merit of their cattle.

When finished, all the cattle will be marketed on a carcass grid system. A carcass grid provides for both premiums and discounts based upon market driven characteristics. Carcass measures which are used to characterize carcasses include Quality Grade (Prime, Choice, Select, Standard), Yield Grade (a measure of cutability; 1,2,3,4,5) and hot carcass weight. Depending upon the grid marketing agreement, there may be additional value placed upon ribeye area or whether a carcass qualifies for a set of specific carcass guidelines such as Certified Angus Beef or Sterling Silver.

The next shipment of ROP cattle is scheduled for December 1. The December shipment is targeted to serve the needs of the spring calving cowherd. It is strongly recommended that all calves be weaned for 45 days and be water and feed trough broke. Calves should also undergo a complete vaccination program for 7 strain clostridial, IBR, BVD, PI3, and pasteurella before shipment. Specific backgrounding guidelines and consignment forms are available at the local Extension office.

For more information regarding the Retained Ownership Program, contact Jim Johnson at the Virginia Cattlemen's Association (540/992-1009) or Bill McKinnon at Virginia Tech (540/231-9160).

Go to "Consignment Form for R.O.P."

Visit Virginia Cooperative Extension