In today’s market, cattle producers need to take advantage of every opportunity to increase the value and profit of their calves. Universities and cattle services have been reporting the economic effects of good and bad management practices for decades. One early report is a 1986 extension publication highlighting a sale barn survey that focused on the impact of selected characteristics on feeder cattle prices. Since then, numerous reports have been released to verify the difference in the value of good versus mismanaged calves. Using best management practices for genetics, nutrition and health is the best way to increase your calves’ value at marketing. When the cattle cycle dips, producers shouldn’t stop using these best management practices.
Cattle inherit the ability to grow and convert feed resources into highly valuable carcasses. Using proper nutrition, one can set calves up to make sure they reach their genetic potential. For example, recent studies have shown that proper nutrition during the last 90 days of pregnancy greatly influences the resulting calf crop’s performance. Meeting the needs of gestating cows, or fetal programming, is a powerful tool. Satisfying the cow herd’s requirements during pregnancy for energy, protein, vitamins and minerals has been shown to increase colostrum intake and calf health (reduced incidences of scours), weaning weight (by 40+ pounds), replacement herd fertility (up to 15% more pregnancies), feedlot performance, carcass quality grade (near 10% greater Choice carcasses)… the list goes on and on. Truly, the cow-calf producer is “large and in charge” of the lifetime performance of calves, often before those calves are even born.
Maximizing forage digestion during late pregnancy is an important part of fetal programming. There are several complementary management practices that can get the most nutrition out of primarily forage cow diets. For example, Amaferm®, a prebiotic included in all VitaFerm® products, enhances forage digestibility elevating the energy and protein of essentially all classes of forages. Providing protein supplements can further increase forage intake and allow cows to maximize their utilization of forages to meet their nutritional needs. Complementing with minerals, trace minerals and vitamin supplements completes the feeding program. Inclusion of complete mineral supplements give cattlemen the confidence their cow herds will remain fertile and healthy.
Well-managed calves give an operation the option of taking advantage of a variety of marketing opportunities. Sale barn and auction sales price analyses over the past three decades have repeatedly shown the value advantages of good management practices. Timely castration, dehorning, and vaccinations, along with maintaining the correct flesh and health have constantly demanded premium prices. Calves managed correctly continue to meet marketing opportunities for maximum profits as they develop, giving owners multiple selling opportunities from the time they are weaned until they are sold to packers.
Successfully raising and marketing calves is a system combining many elements of good management practices. Don’t stop using the best management practices along with solid supplementation programs during a down market. These two elements will help producers reach maximum profit potential. By utilizing VitaFerm supplements, producers can enhance forage digestion, providing needed minerals and vitamins, and maximize a cow herd’s potential and profit.