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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

The Value of Stocker Cattle Gain

Livestock Update, April 1999

Bill McKinnon, Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech

It is strategy time for stocker cattle operators. They need to ready their arsenal of tactical weapons that will enhance cost effective gain during the grazing season. Extra pounds of gain can help the operator make up for that one pen of calves he purchased just a little higher than he knew he should.

Implants and a strategic deworming program are two of the most cost-effective weapons available. It is simply hard to be competitive if cattle do not receive a growth enhancing implant near turnout time. Ralgro, Synovex S or H, Revalor G, Component E-S or E-H, Compudose, and Encore are all labeled for stocker and backgrounding cattle. Research in Virginia has consistently demonstrated the benefits in terms of 20 to 40 plus pounds with a strategic deworming program versus the simple deworm at turnout method.

When analyzing the cost:benefit ratio of a management product, the value of the added gain is not simply the increased pounds multiplied by the expected sale price per pound. The price per pound typically decreases as the cattle weight more. So adding 50 pounds to a set of yearlings either put more cattle into a heavier weight pen or simply increases the average weight of the whole load. The table below illustrates the prices in place during the fall of 1998 and the effective value of added gain. It would appear that in last fall's $55 to $65 market the effective value of extra gain was more in the area of $40 per hundredweight.

Fall 1998 Virginia Graded Feeder Cattle Sales
Yearling Weight Prices

All Grades
Avg. $/Cwt.
Price per Head
Using Midpoint
of Weight Range
of Added
600 - 699 lb.$66.16$430.04
700 - 799 lb.$63.12$473.40$43.36
800 - 899 lb.$60.45$513.83$40.43
900 - 999 lb.$57.53$546.54$32.71
600 - 699 lb.$58.20$378.30
700 - 799 lb.$57.06$427.95 $49.65
800 - 899 lb. .$54.21.$460.79.$32.84

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