August 20, 2003 | By: Laura Skillman
Princeton, Ky.

With fall and the time for weaning spring-born calves fast approaching, farmers need to determine what to do with those calves.

Price levels are flat and historically high, said Lee Meyer, an agricultural economist with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

Based on pricing history, producers can expect somewhat of a price dip as fall marketings increase - normally $3 to $6 per hundredweight from August to November.  By keeping these calves after weaning, farmers can expect increased weights to offset any modestly lower prices, he said.

For example, selling a 500-pound calf at 95 cents per pound will return less than adding another 100 pounds of weight and selling for 90 cents. The income difference is $65 while the cost of adding the additional weight will be between $20 and $30

Additionally, participating in the various certified preconditioned for health (CPH-45) sales around the state can make the net returns even better, Meyer said. Calves sold at CPH-45 sales get higher prices because of their reputations, and because they are marketed in larger, more uniform groups.

The moisture the state has had in recent weeks is giving farmers alternative feeding choices. Traditionally, calves are preconditioned on a dry feed ration. But since most farms should have decent pasture for the newly weaned calves, with good quality forage farmers can do some rotational grazing and supplement as needed. Feeding information for newly weaned calves is available at the local Cooperative Extension Service office.

In addition to the economic benefit farmers can receive by retaining their calves, it is also positive for the state’s beef industry when fewer calves are sold directly off the cow, Meyer said.

Calves sold directly off the cow are often stressed making them more susceptible to diseases. Evidence shows that once a calf is sick and has to be treated, its performance never quite recovers, he said. These calves damage the state’s reputation.

All a farmer needs to wean and precondition calves is modest facilities and relatively good feed, Meyer said. Cost share programs through tobacco settlement money are available in many counties across the state to help pay for cattle facilities. There also are custom weaning facilities in some areas of the state that are supported through the Kentucky Beef Network.

For more information, contact your county Extension office.


Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278
Source: Lee Meyer, 859-257-7272 ext.228