August 20, 2012

The Results are in and the Winner is......

I blogged back in December about shipping our steers to the feedlot.  The day we deliver our steers (or sell any of our animals) is always bitter sweet.  We are excited and proud to send off the best set of calves that we have worked hard to keep healthy, safe, and provide a good environment for them to grow up in. 

The last load of steers waiting to get on
the trailer.

 We are also sad and a little heart broken because we have dedicated so much of our time, love and effort to give them everything they need.  Then there is the emotion of anxiety and nervousness.  We get back a report (we pay for this report card) card on how well or not well the calves did in the feedlot and at at packer.  Last week the report card was delivered.  Mine and Marks parents are not waiting anxiously at home to see if we need to be grounded or need to dedicate less time to gabbing on the phone and more time to homework but I was still very nervous and excited at the same time to open the e-mail and begin to look at the data.  We do have a banker who want to make sure that we make enough money to make our annual loan payments. 

Unloaded at the feedlot and waiting to go to there new
To tell the truth, I printed it very fast with out reading anything on it, then covered my eyes with 1 hand while peaking through my fingers to get a glimpse to see if my heart is going to sink or soar.  I was the kid at the pool who always tested the water with my toes before sliding in.  I approached the data with the same approach.  At first look things didn't look to bad.  My first stop was the number that got sick or died (mostly because it was at the top but also because the health and well being of our cattle is always #1 priority even if we no longer own them), all of the steers stayed healthy and there was not any steers that didn't make it to harvest....  Our health and nutrition programs were a success!!! Sigh of relief...  If we delivered cattle to the feedlot that were not healthy my buyer would not be willing to give me top dollar for my next set of calves.  Healthy Cattle produce Healthy Beef!!  Next stop was the ADG (average daily gain = how many pounds they gained each day)... it was better than last year... We want the steers to gain the most weight a day possible while converting the feed to meat as efficiently as possible.  Then it was on to the summary of the harvest data from the packer only because it was next in line on the page.  The steers quality grade (an estimate of eating quality, Select, Choice or Prime) was much better than the year before and the steers average was much better than the average of all the steers (from many other producers) enrolled in the program!!!  The rib eye area (the size of the prime rib or rib eye steak, an indicator of muscling), carcass weight (how much was left after hide and internals had been removed), Yield grade (how much "wasted" or "not wasted" excess fat was on the carcass), and dressing percent (an indication of total edible meat) all looked really good.  My excitement was building to see that our steers performed very close to the high standards that we expect.  The report card had passing grades on it, and we had made a huge step forward to meeting the long term goals for our cow herd. 
Here is where the data goes from summary to lots of detail.  Page 2 and 3 have all of data for each individual animal. 

I picked G11 because I had a picture of him from the day
he was born.  It was a very cold frosty March morning and
he got to spend a few minutes under the heater in the
blazer warming up while Mark got his momma and him
bedded down in the warm barn.
  Data Example - Steer #G11
In Weight (how much he weighed when he got to the feedlot) = 768 pounds
ADG - 4.21 pounds/day
Carcass Weight - 1047 pounds (2nd heaviest)
Yield Grade - 4 (he has a little more extra fat than we like that will be trimmed off)
Quality Grade - Choice (he should produce meat that is flavorful, tender, and juicy)
Rib Eye Area - 14.5 inches (a big beautiful prime rib roast or steaks)
His Total Value to the feedlot was the 2nd highest of all the steers - This is a steer the feedlots want to purchase due to his ability to gain weight efficiently in the feedlot and to yield high quality beef for your plate.

We keep track of which cows are meeting our goals and which are not.  So we link this data from each individual steer back to his momma.  This helps us to determine which cows are productively sustainable and are doing their job at improving the genetic potential of our calves.  If a cow repeatedly fails to make the grade she is subject to be culled (removed/sold from the herd) earlier than normal.  It cost a lot of money to raise beef and if a particular cow can not cover those costs we have to make a business decision and do what is best for the rest of the herd and to ensure we can remain in business.  It also used as another tool to help us select heifers that have a higher potential to becoming a productive member of our cow herd.  The better of job we do picking our replacement females the better our chances of long term sustainablity and improving the quality of the beef you feed your family.


No comments:

Post a Comment