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Cow Profitability II

published: May 29th 2020
by: Dr. Joe C. Paschal
source: ICA Of Texas

Last month I said that cow fertility was the most important trait affecting profitability in the cow herd. There are other factors that contribute as well, not as much, but they are ones that you can control. The other two factors that affect profitability are weight of the calves produced and price received for them. It is often said (and written) that cow/calf producers do not have any control over the price they receive for their calves. That statement is not true. Cow/calf producers do have control over the price of their calves, not necessarily achieving the highest, most desired price (and overall value) in the seller’s opinion, but certainly avoiding discounts through selection and management.
    A few years ago, Dr. Levi Russell (who was our extension agricultural economist) worked with several county extension agents, who had livestock commission companies in their county or area and collected price data on a sample of calves sold during the year. Recently, Dr. Samuel Zapata in Weslaco took over the project and analyzed the current data including sales in South, South Central, and South-east Texas. Characters (beside price per pound) were weight, gender, hair color, breed type (particularly Brahman influence), muscle, frame, condition, fill, and health.
    I thought it would be interesting to share them here with you. The average weight of the calves was 546 pounds, a pretty good estimate of calf weaning weight for that area of Texas and average value across all years was $163/cwt (per hundredweight live). Not unexpectedly there were more males than heifers (42%), but 30% of the males were bulls and only 28% were steers. Steers were worth $4/cwt than bulls, so a sharp knife would have increased total value by $22 per head. Heifers were worth $12.50/cwt less than steers (heifers tend to gain less and are less efficient in the feed yard and tend to yield lower).
    Not surprisingly, a total of 30% of calves sold had mostly black hair and unexpectedly there was no additional premium. At one time black-haired calves would have been worth $5.00 or more/cwt. Maybe buyers are getting smarter. Only 15% of the calves were solid red. Red haired cattle did take a slight deduct ($2.50/cwt) relative to black haired calves. Coat colors that brought premiums were black baldies, duns, smokeys and brindles. Spotted cattle were worth about $16.40/cwt less than the average. There is nothing wrong with spotted cattle, the buyers (the eventual owners, not the order buyers in the auction) cannot predict their performance based on that color. But who can?
    Next time we will look at the results for the rest of the traits plus the impacts of Brahman percentage on price and its interaction with gender. Stay safe.

ICA

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