Since Mother Nature seems to be about a month behind, maybe May showers will bring spring flowers. Considering it snowed in April and I was still feeding hay, I’m ready for spring warm up, green grass and milder temperatures.
Besides being the last month of school for most youngsters, May could also be considered the month of deadlines. Please refer to NALF News in this issue for all of the upcoming May deadlines for juniors. Among them are scholarship and grant applications, as well as deadlines for our three regional shows and the National Junior Limousin Show & Congress. There are plenty of Limousin events in the coming months, I encourage you to take part in as many as your schedule allows. I guarantee you will leave not only impressed by the quality of our juniors, but with a renewed interest in the Limousin breed.
May is also an excellent time to take stock of the breeding decisions you made nearly a year ago and give yourself a grade—I hope you passed with flying colors and your spring 2013 calf crop is your best one yet. If you calve early in the spring, chances are the cows are bred and all that is left to do now is sit back and wait and see how your matings turned out. If you have yet to breed cows, study our April and May issues. Between the AI sires listed and the volume of sale reports, there is plenty of information in these two issues to help you make breeding decisions.
Speaking of breeding decisions, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about how your mating decisions influence the end product. Whether it’s the culls you send to the sale barn, or the bulls your commercial customers turn out with their cows, the genetics you create and market end up on dinner plates across the country.
I read an article the other day that outlined many of the traits that pay in the feedlot. And while, I agree, the feedlot is not technically the last stop for cattle, it is a very important piece of the production puzzle.
The first and most obvious trait that pays in the feedlot is weight. Heavier cattle and heavier carcasses earn bigger checks. Of course there are discounts if the cattle get too heavy, so we must keep that in mind.
The next trait should be music to Limousin breeders ears. In the analysis referenced in this article, feed efficiency was the top profit driver, accounting for 43 percent of the differences in profitability between cattle. But as it has been said before, feed efficiency alone is not enough. The cattle must also convert feed to pounds.
In their example, the top 20 percent gained four pounds per day and converted feed at 5.3 pounds of feed per pound of gain. The bottom 20 percent gained 3.6 pounds per day and converted at 5.6 pounds of feed per pound of gain. Not surprisingly with $6 corn, the difference in net return was $194 per head.
The third most important trait was grid value at 39 percent. The article said that 80 percent of the finished cattle in Texas and Kansas are sold on carcass-based grids, which means ranchers need to know what type of grid(s) their cattle fit.
Which begs the question. Where do your cattle fit?