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When Do You Market Your Calves? Plus Last Chance To Win Heat Holders® Socks

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Today’s question asks, “When do you market your calves?” Plus, today is the last chance to win Heat Holders® socks.

Each day this week, I’ve posed a question for readers to weigh in on for a chance to win a pair of Heat Holders® socks. During the course of this week, 10 commenters will take home a pair of these socks, which are marketed as being more than 7x warmer than regular cotton socks and 3x warmer than ordinary thermal socks. So far this week, we’ve discussed cull cows, buying bred cows, and forages for late fall and early winter. Today’s topic is marketing spring-born calves.

Our family business is selling bulls, so once we’ve selected the bulls to put in our sale and the replacement heifers we plan to keep, we typically market the remaining calves at our local sale barn in late November. By then, the calves are bunk broke, as well as castrated, dehorned and vaccinated. Depending on the market, we might hold the calves longer or let them go sooner, but we typically shoot for a late November marketing date on these calves.

Meanwhile, many of our friends and neighbors sell their calves right off the cow after weaning. Others retain their calves until January, if they have the feed supplies available.

 

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So today’s question is, “When do you typically market your spring calf crop?” Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Three winners will be randomly selected and announced on Monday. Good luck!

Yesterday’s question asked, “Which forages do you utilize in late fall and early winter?” Our three winners are Chuck Tollefson, Alex Broussard and Frank Schlichting.

Chuck Tollefson says, “I graze regrowth after forage sorghum has been harvested, cows eat it to the ground. Cornstalks are getting harder to get cows to graze. Possibly biotech has altered the structure of the plant. I am not alone in this observation.”

Alex Broussard writes, “We use round bales that consist of Bermuda and/or bahia that has been stored in the barn. Also toward the end of September or early October, we overseed Nelson tetraploid ryegrass with a mixture of clover to help with protein and not have to supplement as much.”

Frank Schlichting adds, “We have the cows out on an alfalfa hay field. We had an amazing year this year. We live in northern Canada. I have never seen as much pasture and such good hay yields. We got two cuttings of alfalfa (something that never happens), and the regrowth from the last cutting is as good as the two crops that we took off! We will be weaning late since the cows are so fat and the calves are still gaining a lot of weight.”

Thank you again to all of you who participated in this week’s daily questions. It was very interesting to read about your different production methods from across the country. Be sure to weigh in on today’s question regarding marketing time for your calves.

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 34

Doug (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

The best feeder sale in my area is the day after Thanksgiving. If I am going to sell that is the day. If I sell my calves are weaned for a minimum of 2 weeks, crimped, vaccinated and tagged. I usually keep them over winter but with feeder prices this year I am leaning towards selling in November.

Anonymouschris (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

We are about the same as most, we fence line wean in July and pre-sale them for pick up in late November

Bob Ogden (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

I will usually wean in October and sell the first week of December

Flatrock Farm (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

A group of 10 of us will sell our calves in July for November 1st pick up. They are weaned early September, vaccinated 2 rounds of shots & bunk broke. We average 40 head each but together the feedlots & buyers will talk to us & they must be Angus & Gelbveigh cross(50-50) with heavier influence of Angus if not. They are weighed at the farm twice, then weighed on truck scales then into the pots. We go off of the November future price for the contract.

wes metzker (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

our calves are for sale whenever a buyer shows up with money in hand, we have sold calves at 3 months old, and then got another calf for that cow to raise.. but typically we sell this springs calf crop next spring.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

We market our calves once we have a load (~15 head) or more at weaning weight.

bob neese (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

Traditionally, calf prices take a down turn in October, November, December, then trend upwards in late winter/early spring. I'm not sure tradition and patterns in the market still hold.
We normally have sold spring calves in February-April. Heifers of breeding quality will be retained another year, some calved, some sold as bred heifers in Jan/Feb. and some sold as pairs in April/May.
This also affords more options, spreads risk, and allows time for the purposes of deciding purchases for tax deductions, rather than last minute, year-end decisions.

John Cunningham (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

Usually market them at a nearby auction barn the first or second week in January.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

We background our calves each year with selling dates from the end of January to the middle of February.

Jim Holder (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

Check Harlan's and others yearlings price prediction for next year, long range moisture prediction, recall the nusance trait of tending yearlings and then flip a coin ?

Chad Edwards (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

In our area, if we can get a uniform group of calves, usually right after Thanksgiving is a good time to market, because the number of cattle going through is down. We feel that the buyers are willing to pay a better premium due to the fact that they do not have a big selection to choose from.
If we do have the feed and hay to get them through the winter and add extra pounds, and the market says that prices will be good, or if we can get a comitment from a buyer then we will keep them until March.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

We normally market the 3rd week of October. Our calves are light because of the elevation of the ranch and a relatively late calving season. This year the 3rd week was good. Some years we hit a snow storm because we contract in the summer on a Northern Video Sale. Nobody I know of can tell us the best week to market that far in advance. We never get the maximum dollar per head from spring born calves due to their weight. However, the feeders pay a higher price/lb. We have done some carcass work and buyers are familiar with the quality. Besides, if we squeeze the last compensatory $ out of the calf, the feeder has to pay less, too.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

Usually late September, early October. This gives the cows down time and allows them to recuperate and gain before winter comes on. Good grass is gone by then and calves don't gain as well when our cattle are on dry pasture. The market typically drops mid October and stays down through November/December.

MO Farmgirl (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

We normally keep over the winter, sell late January or Feb, depending on the weather. We feel like it is worth keeping them to get the growth....and most times we have plenty of forage. We decide at that time which heifers to keep for breeding.

Rachel (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

We direct market our grass fed steers/non breeding heifers in the fall when they're 1 1/2 yrs. old.

Jason Z (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

We typically have held them and sold the following fall. The drought made us sell our calves in the fall last year. This year we are going to take them to a custom feeder to feed out to finish. We want to collect more carcass data to help market our seedstock and subsequent calf crops.

annomous (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

The calves are contracted in July for October delevery with a eye on possibly moving that to September to avoid all possiblity of a storm.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

We have a long standing agreement with a stocker operator who takes our calves around the middle of October. We process and wean and they pick them up. We get a $.05 premium above the top price at OK City for that week. Not holding calves allows us to have more cows and hence more calves to sell. We've been in extreme drought for 3 years so pasture and wheat pasture are pretty iffy for us.

on Oct 31, 2013

We sell spring calves in late December. They are vaccinated, castrated, and weaned earlier in the fall so they are healthy, bunk broke and ready to go.

kscrat (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

Spring calves usually are sold at the local livestock market in the first graded sale in the Fall. These calves know how to drink from a water trough and eat from a feed bunk. They have been vaccinated with two doses of a 7-way vaccine. The steer calves are banded during the first day of life. The calves usually are weaned on the morning of the sale.

Anna (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

We sell our calves in November after two to three weeks of being weaned and vaccanated. We seem to have really good luck with this so we keep up with it.

Stephen S (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

We background our late spring born calves and either contract,or hedge a portion when we like the market. Generally the bulk are marketed before they reach desired out weight. We take the odds and ends to the sale barn.

Amy Patrick (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

We sell spring calves when they reach 400-500 pounds. Usually in mid October. Yes that's right October. Big meaty Angus calves!

Tami Whitlock (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

I usually sell my calves the end of Oct or very beginning of Nov. I summer my cows on permits in the Mendocino mountains and pull them out by the end of Oct. I am lucky I can wein the calves right off the cows and have a buyer that comes to the ranch to pickup the calves. This year the prices stayed up so I was able to do fairly well.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

After 45 days of weaning, bunk broke, and two doses of vaccines and deworming, castration. They sell healthy and ready to go to work. Time frame is mid-November.

Mark Fields (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

We normally market our spring calves on the Virginia Quality Assured feeder cattle program (VQA) in mid to late November. The calves are weaned 45 days, vaccinated, and are trough broke. Any calves that weigh less than 550 lbs by mid Nov. we hold back and feed a ground corn, soybean, molasses mix along with good quality hay and market them at the next VQA sale in late January.

jjschlic (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

We retain ownership and feed them to slaughter weight. Typically April births are sold in July of the following year, to the packers. We are fortunate to be in an area that still has packer buyers that will bid on smaller feeders. We market our own grain through the cattle.

thoenig (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

Our cattle are all spring calved. We keep them all the way to slaughter and sell them to U.S. Premium Beef or the local sale barn depending on trucking costs from Iowa to Kansas. We will calf in April mostly and start sending them to slaughter in July to December.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

We only market our the heifers that we are not keeping for our own herd and typically they are sold in September at auction. All our steers are finished as yearlings and sold as grass fed or corn finished directly to our beef customers during their yearling summer and fall.

Ron (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

We market our calves sometime in February or early March. We usually are pretty successful at hitting the market bottom.

Lee K (not verified)
on Oct 31, 2013

Wean calves late August run them usually on fall grass and grain last year sold them the second week January weight 900# for the steers. Little bigger than I wanted. Sell heifers after we pulled out all replacements in March. First sale of the new year seem like best market here.

on Oct 31, 2013

We market our calves the same way you do. Bull are chosen, heifers are chosen, then steers are made with bands, and after a few weeks, they fall off, and then we wait for another week and sell. This means they are fully vaccinated, castrated, and bunk broke, and they are usually about 7-8 months old. Perfect time to get grounded and a few months ready for the feedlot.

Matt Field (not verified)
on Nov 1, 2013

Sold in the fall, with a January delivery.

dan gray (not verified)
on Nov 1, 2013

“When do you typically market your spring calf crop?” we genrally try and sale them the following summer, we watch the beef prices wait for prices to get about in the 1.60s range or close to it. that way we have plenty of time to cut, horn, brand, vacks. sale barn wont take scabed brands

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