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Be Ready For Sale Day On Calves

Calves shipped to auction the day of sale had less shrink than calves shipped the day prior to the sale

Calves shipped to auction the day of sale had less shrink than calves shipped the day prior to the sale.

Factors such as calf age, diet, weaning status, weather and pen conditions can affect auction market sale weight on the day of sale. University of Nebraska (UNL) beef researchers evaluated the effects of time of transporting prior to sale date on the selling weight of weaned steer calves in a simulated auction market setting.

Crossbred steer calves were weaned and held for 14 days at their home ranch, UNL’s Dalbey-Halleck Research Unit. The calves were fed 2 lbs./day of dried distillers grains and free-choice bromegrass hay, with access to fresh water during the weaning process.

Steers were assigned to one of three groups – A, B or C – and individually weighed. All steers averaged 550 lbs. On day 2, groups A and B were transported 95 miles to the UNL research feedlot (the simulated auction market). Group C remained at the ranch and was transported on day 3 (the simulated sale day). Also, on day 3, group A was removed from hay and water for two hours, while group B was allowed access to hay and water. When group C arrived at the research feedlot, all groups were commingled and weighed, with the weight used as the simulated sale weight.

Weight loss from day 2 to day 3 was 15, 13 and 4 lbs., respectively, for groups A, B and C; shrink was 2.2%, 1.8% and 0.6 %. It was hypothesized that the calves shipped on day 2 (one day prior to sale) would gain back the weight lost in the shipping process. However, calves shipped the day prior to sale continued to lose weight in the new environment. Holding calves off hay and water for two hours prior to sale did not markedly impact sale weight. Calves shipped the day of sale shrank the least. Arranging for shipment the same day weaned calves are sold appears advantageous to the calf seller.

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No advantage to delaying initial implant in calf-fed steers

Delayed initial implanting of feedlot cattle is sometimes done with the belief that performance or carcass quality will be enhanced. University of Nebraska researchers tested this notion in two, two-year experiments in calf-fed steers. Steers were either given their initial feedlot implant at processing upon feedlot arrival (normal implant) or 30 days post feedlot arrival (delayed implant).

Calves in the first experiment weren’t implanted at the ranch, while calves in the second experiment were implanted at branding. Upon arrival at the feedlot, all calves were processed and weighed. Calves were again weighed on day 30, when delayed-implant calves were implanted; and again at re-implant time, when all calves were re-implanted; as well as at the end of finishing.

Calves in experiment one weighed 474 lbs. upon feedlot arrival and were fed a total of 212 days; experiment two calves weighed 525 lbs. and were fed 218 days. Re-implanting occurred on day 115 and 104, respectively, in experiments one and two.

Each year, both treatment groups of calves were fed in the same pen. A similar diet was fed from year to year. Carcass data was collected on each animal.

The overall feedlot performance of calf-fed steers wasn’t affected by the time of
administration of the initial feedlot implant. Delaying the first feedlot implant didn’t improve feedlot gain, final weight, carcass weight, carcass quality or any other carcass traits.

Since there was no advantage to delaying the first feedlot implant, initial feedlot implanting should occur at the time of initial processing in calf-fed steers.
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Scott B. Laudert, Ph.D., is a beef cattle technical consultant and former Kansas State University Extension livestock specialist. Contact him at 719-660-4473.