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Selling Spring Calves Store This Autumn

6 July 2017

There are two good reasons to consider selling spring born calves store this autumn for upland/hill producers –

  • Finishers are looking for lighter cattle to give them room to make a good margin without producing overweight carcasses and
  • Straw is going to be scare and hence expensive this autumn. At only £50/t it will add at least 25p/kg liveweight gain over the winter and approaching 50p/kg weight gain with straw costing £100/t.

Management Points To Consider

  1. Maximise sale weights.

For the breeder, maximising sale weights will maximise income by both maximising sale weight and, by having a well grown, well fleshed animal, it’s price per kg.  It will also minimise the weaning check as calves will already be fully acclimatised to concentrate feeding.  A target sale weight would be 300 kg+.

To maximise calf growth rates it is essential to creep feed them.  This can either be by conventionally creep feeding concentrates or grass.  Concentrate feeding should begin ASAP and ideally be fed ad-lib.  The ration should have as high an energy level as possible with around just 14% CP in the DM as the cows’ milk will be providing a good quality protein to the calf.  Home mixes should also provide the calf with around 20 g per head per day of a high quality mineral mix.

  1. Ensure calf health.

Maximise the ability of your calves to thrive by vaccinating them against pneumonia and worming them prior to sale.

Another important factor influencing calf health is not to wean on the day of sale.  At a minimum calves should be weaned at least 10 days before the sale date.

  1. Advertise how good your calves are.

Produce a simple handout or, if possible go onto the mart website and tell potential buyers –

  • The quality of the sires’ of the calves eg their Beef Value/TSI, carcass EBVs, etc.
  • List the health treatments and when they were given.
  • Show what they have been fed prior to the sale, as simply as possible eg ad-lib silage + 2 kg of compound per day.
  1. Clip the back of the calves prior to the sale.

Basil Lowman,

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