Adding value to your cattle at sale time


“Calf processing prior to sale that reduces work for the buyer after sale potentially makes that calf more valuable at sale time,” says Patrick Davis MU Extension Regional Livestock Field Specialist.  The added value can lead to improved profitability of the cattle operation.  Below, Davis provides thoughts on a few calf processing strategies that can add value to your calves.

“Steer calves should be castrated as young as possible to reduce pain issues,” says Davis.  Surgical castration involves using a knife to open the scrotum and remove the testicle.  Non-surgical castration is bloodless castration and involves clamping the blood flow to the testicles by elastrator or a burdizzo clamp.  Davis urges cattle producers to consult a veterinarian for more information when deciding which castration method will work best on your operation and other medications that should be given at castration time. 

“If calves have horns they need to be dehorned as young as possible to reduce pain issues,” says Davis.  Dehorning can be done at an age of less than 2 weeks with caustic paste or at older ages by mechanical means.  Davis urges cattle producers to consult a veterinarian on proper time of dehorning, proper method and any pain medication that might need to be given at that time.  Davis also urges cattle producers to select polled (cattle that genetically do not have horns) cows or bulls for their operation.  This management strategy will reduce the incidence of calves being born with horns and naturally reduce the need for dehorning.

“If you do not plan to keep replacement heifers from your own herd, implanting calves while they are on the cow is a cheap way to improve calf performance,” says Davis.  Davis urges cattle producers to check the effectiveness of the implant and whether multiple implants should be provided from calving to weaning.  Davis also urges cattle producers to provide adequate nutrition for calves to maintain proper gains to capture the full value of implants.

“Given the current market situation, any way that cattle producers can cheaply add value to their calves can lead to optimum operation profit potential,” says Davis.  If you have any questions please contact your local MU Extension Livestock Field Specialist.