Producers with limited food resources should consider slaughtering cattle
Other factors to consider when culling may include cows that calve later in the growing season, cattle with poor udders and feet, fence caterpillars, and poor results and producers.
TO EACH THEIR OWN
Each cow-calf producer has their own thoughts on how to select which cows to slaughter and which to remain.
Mike Manion, a breeder and cattle breeder from Hemingford, Nebraska, said the obvious candidates for slaughter would be these old, open cows. Plus, he also likes to get rid of late calving cattle, so his calf crop is more even.
Next, the Northwestern Nebraska cattle producer will look at the production in terms of what type of calf the cow will produce. If the cows have a bad attitude or an extra-large udder, they are more likely to be slaughtered, he said.
Manion said he has tried to keep better records of the health of his livestock, which may also help him make slaughter decisions.
“I think we focused so much on growing up that we kind of improved their health,” Manion told DTN.
He pointed out that a larger calf that has been treated may not make as much money for a cattle breeder as a smaller calf that has not been treated. If he treats a calf, he won’t keep a heifer of that cow, he said. Manion said part of that philosophy comes from buying calves. He said he knew a lot of producers who had finished buying a howling calf, he said.
Ben Pelster, a cattle breeder from Elise, Nebraska, said he would not send a cow in the grass that doesn’t have a calf on it or has bad feet, udders, disposition or anything else structural problem. The only exception to this rule would be a first calf heifer who loses a calf late for some reason beyond his control. It will be put with the replacements of the operation, recreated for resale but will not return to the herd.
“We don’t keep older cows,” Pelster said. “We keep enough heifers to recycle older cows and sell them in pairs between eight and nine years old because we have a good market for them.
Pelster said his operation in southwestern Nebraska would not keep cows that don’t calve in the first 45 days of his calving period. Anything that is calf outside this perimeter is sold in pairs.
CULL BULLS, TOO
Gerald Stokka, NDSU Extension veterinarian, recommends cattle producers keep bulls in mind when considering slaughter options. Again, if the bulls are not helping the operation achieve its goals, they should be considered for slaughter.
“If the bulls don’t pass a breeding quality review or don’t meet your farm’s criteria, add them to the cull list,” Stokka said.
Pelster said his vet has always been a supporter of a five-year-old bull who should be the oldest bull around. He tried to follow that suggestion, he said.
He breeds his Red Angus bulls at home and has kept a few bulls longer just for the sake of longevity. These bulls were solid breeders until about eight years old, Pelster said.
Russ Quinn can be reached at [email protected]
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