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Managing Risk in a Risky Business

Managing Risk in a Risky Business

The grass is getting greener by the day and livestock are being turned out to pasture as we speak. For many years cattle producers have purchased and turned out stocker cattle on grass this time of year. The goal: put on cheap gain, utilizing grazed forages. While the pounds added to cattle in a stocker operation might be cheap, one thing is for certain that in 2024 calves being purchased to be stockers on grass are anything but.

Looking at livestock auction reports in eastern Ohio 300-500 pound steers last week cost anywhere from $3.00-$3.52 per pound for quality steer calves. Heifer calves cost $2.50 – $3.00 per pound. That is a range in cost from $750 to north of $1,700 per head invested in a calf that will be grazing through the summer. With that kind of up-front costs in buying cattle this spring, summer grazing is risky as it has ever been and there are management considerations to account for.

Vitamin M(anagement)

There is a science behind being a successful stocker operation. Those who are the most profitable start with the type and kind of cattle that best match their management style. Just because cattle are high priced, doesn’t mean a stocker operator can sacrifice calf quality at turn out time. For stocker calf grazers that have off farm employment, baseball/softball schedules to work around, or may get a case of corn planter-itis in coming weeks, starting with quality healthy calves is paramount.

Buying lesser quality, or health challenged calves takes a more intensive management style and know how to get calves back to health and eating. Remember, you get what you pay for.

An Ounce of Prevention

A good bill of health is paramount before turning stocker calves out to grass. Vaccinations for Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) and Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) are key given the value of these cattle.

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Photo Credit: istock-jakescreates

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Categories: Kentucky, Livestock, Beef Cattle, Minnesota, Livestock, Beef Cattle, South Dakota, Livestock, Beef Cattle

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