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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
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The Cattle Business -- December R.O.P. Shipment

Livestock Update, October 1999

author, title, Virginia Tech

The next shipment of cattle as part of Virginia's Retained Ownership Program is slated for December 1. The cattle will be fed at the Decatur County Feed Yard near Oberlin, Kansas which is cooperating with the ROP program. The cattle are marketed through the Decatur Beef Alliance utilizing a carcass value grid.

Participants will receive information on rate of gain, finished weight, and carcass characteristics of their cattle. At shipment time, each feeder steer or heifer will be weighed, graded, and classified as to breed type so that a current feeder cattle value can be assigned to each animal. The cost of gain and closeout profit/loss is also calculated on each head so consignors can learn more about custom feeding and the relative performance 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. In December of 1998, a group of 219 ROP steers were fed at Decatur. This set of steers brought an average carcass premium of $18.44 per head over prevailing live cattle bid prices. Data regarding the carcass information from last year's shipment is listed below.

Table 1. December, 1998 ROP Steer Carcass Data
Carcass Quality Grade Distribution    Yield Grade Distribution
Certified Angus Beef7.48%2.00 - 2.4925.23%
Excel Sterling Silver2.80%2.50 - 2.9943.46%
Choice46.26%3.00 - 3.4919.63%
Select41.12%3.50 - 3.997.54%
Standard1.87%Average Yield Grade2.75

The 1998 shipment of steers had an average daily gain of 3.51 lb./day and a cost of gain of $39.10/cwt. The cattle were sorted into marketing groups from February to July, 1999 and had an average days on feed of 147 days. Using Virginia feeder cattle values at the time of shipment and 9% interest on the feeder cattle value and trucking bill, the steers netted an average of $50.50 per head and $34.36 per head with the deads and "railers" included.

The next shipment of ROP cattle scheduled for December 1 will accept both steers and heifers. 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.

Across the country more cow/calf operations are retaining ownership in their cattle through the feedlot. At the same time, there has been increased participation in beef alliances where 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.

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).

ROP Consignment Form

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