April 03, 2019

Midwest Symposium Recap *Beef and Small Ruminant*

Midwest 2019 Beef and Small Ruminant Talks

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

By: Mareah Volk 

Esther McCabe- Effect of implant status and non-hormone treated cattle status on sale price of beef calves-Superior Livestock Video Auction

Esther McCabe started her discussion by providing background information about Superior Livestock Video Auctions as this allows buyers and sellers across the country to interact.  With this system, buyers can purchase truckload-sized lots with information about the cattle such as the weight range of the lot, the number of animals, along with their vaccination and health records. The lots of cattle can also be described as either implanted or non-implanted lots based on if the cattle qualify for the non-hormone treated cattle program. This program began in 1999, is approved by the USDA, and is audited by a third party. To qualify for the non-hormone treated cattle program, cattle cannot receive growth-promoting implants. The database for Superior Livestock Video Auctions started in 1995, but it became electronically available in 2010. In this experiment, over 40,000 lots of beef calves were used from 67 summer video auctions from 2010 to 2018. 

From 2010 to 2018, there has been a steady increase in lots enrolled in the non-hormone treated cattle program, but from 2017 to 2018, there was a 50% increase. Premiums were associated with these lots for seven of the nine years in this analysis. The highest premium for non-hormone treated cattle was in 2014. The premiums for these lots ranged from around $1/45.36 kg to $4.04/45.36 kg. 

Over this period of time, the number of implanted lots have maintained relatively stable. Moreover, lots with implanted cattle have not received price discounts. Overall, from this data analysis, there has been an increase in the last year of the project by 50% from 2017 to 2018 in lots qualifying for the non-hormone treated cattle status. Over this nine year period, there was variation in premiums for non-implanted lots, but there has not been price discounts for implanted lots.  

Lucas Neira- Effect of housing cow-calf pairs on dry lots vs pasture on calf performance and behavior

Lucas Neira started his discussion by briefly describing the situation cow-calf producer are facing in the Midwest: increasing land prices and the abundance of alternative feed resources. This situation has encouraged producers to search for alternative housing systems to raise cattle at lower costs as the cost of pasture continues to rise. In this experiment, spring-calving cows and their calves were housed in a dry lot system or on pasture from breeding until weaning. In the dry lot, cows were limit-fed and calves had access to a creep pen with feed at all times, but calves reared on pasture did not have access to creep feed. Calf performance was recorded throughout the pre-weaning and post-weaning phases. After weaning, when the calves arrived at the feedlot, calf behavior was observed along with performance during the receiving period. This presentation did not include data from the cows as Ashley Cooney presented this data in the undergraduate oral presentation competition.

In the pre-weaning period, calves reared in the dry-lot had greater body weight and average daily gain at the midpoint and at the end of the pre-weaning period. Calves from the pasture had less dirt but a greater hair coat score at weaning. The first day after arrival to the feedlot, calves reared in the dry-lot vocalized and walked more. In the post-weaning phase, calves reared on the pasture had greater average daily gain, and showed less signs of behavioral stress. Lucas Neira hypothesized that this could be from the fact that the pasture calves were used to not always being in close proximity to their dams but the dry-lot calves were always close to their dams in the dry lot pens. Overall, calf performance during the pre-weaning was greater for dry lot calves but pasture-reared calves had greater performance in the post-weaning phase. When deciding a housing system, producers should consider if these calves would be sold at weaning or retained for ownership after weaning as this may influence their decision.