Fort Valley State University and ABS Global cooperated to work with small cow-calf producers in Georgia in putting together truckload lots of feeder calves. The objective was to assist small producers in achieving greater returns by selling in load lots of uniform, source-verified calves. The calves were backgrounded on a corn silage diet formulated to support an average daily gain (ADG) of 2.2 lbs./day.
In August 2004, 168 calves were marketed at an average return/calf of $108.77 over the local auction market. ADG was 1.78 lbs./day, and cost of gain was $1.62/day during the backgrounding period. In November 2004, 430 calves were marketed for an average return of $23.93/calf over the local market. ADG in the November group was 2.01 lbs./day at an average feed cost of 98¢/calf/day.
There was no sickness or mortality in backgrounding of the August group, while 12 calves became sick in the November group (no mortalities). No calves were rejected in August, but there were 17 no-loads in November. Post-sale health of the calves was reported to be excellent.
The results suggest it's possible to work with small beef producers to positively impact enterprise profitability (Freeman and Getz. 2006. Southern Section ASAS. Abstract 130). -- Michigan State University "Beef Cattle Research Update," Summer 2006