November 02, 2015

(Dan) Hey folks, Dr. Dan from DocTalk here. Sure glad you joined us today. I’m going to be your guest and your host and I hope that you enjoy the show.

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(Dan) I really appreciate you watching the show and I appreciate all the people that come up whenever we’re out on the road. Just continue to come up and say “Hi.” If you have a topic that you want to discuss, shoot us an email or stop me on my way by at your cattlemen’s meeting and we’ll be sure to get it on. But today we’re going to talk about cull cows or market cows. And the reason why we’ve transferred from calling them cull cows to market cows is because they’re a good source of beef. We are marketing these animals into the beef supply. And understanding that a significant amount of ground beef and a significant amount of steak and whole muscle cuts these days are actually coming from market cows or market bulls, is important for everybody to understand. The other thing that’s important for us to understand is that this represents a significant supply of revenue to the cow/calf ranch. It is estimated at 20 percent of the annual gross revenue on a ranch today comes from these market or cull cows. So supplying the proper animal, putting it into the food chain and gaining positive revenue back to the operation is hugely important and we’re gonna talk about a few of those options that you have to increase the revenue source or to increase what you are bringing into the ranch. When we look at culling rates, OK, the average culling rate per year on a farm is around 15 percent. So 15 percent of the cows are going to be shipped to market. So, what are some of the biggest reasons why we cull animals? And number one far, going away a third of our animals are culled because they’re not pregnant or they’re open. So, we’re gonna cull open animals. We’re not gonna winter ’em. We’re not gonna feed ’em. We’re gonna ship them off for beef. The second one is old age. When they start to become smooth mouthed or they don’t have teeth and they’re not able to gather forage, then we’re gonna cull those animals because their body condition score starts to go down and those animals are not what we call easy keepers or good keepers at all. The next one is going to be two percent of the cows are culled each year due to replacement. We’re gonna take the older cows out. We’re gonna bring in better and newer genetics, to match our market better or match our environment better, and those animals are going to be brought in. And then the last three- physical defects or injuries, 1.6 percent; inferior calves, so they’re weaning a calf is really not as much, because I’ve yet to see anybody cull a cow that was bred OK, let’s just get to the economics and reality of this. The big thing is is that we want to make sure that we have bred cows, that we have them on the operation and open cows is our number one reason. When we talk about inferior defects and we’ll come back to this after we take a break, the big thing is that we have to pick the right cows to ship to market.

(Dan) Hey welcome back to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. We’re talking about market cows or cull cows. And as we left we were talking about picking the right cow. You know, whether it’s the right cow, the right equipment, the right people, the right environment, all of these things go into our decision making when we’re trying to select which animals to send to market. And some of the things that we have to pay attention to is like cancer eye. We don’t want to send cancer eye cows into the food supply chain because of fear of rejection at the slaughter facility. I hear a lot of producers sometimes say, “Well if I can send her to the sale and get $10 bucks, I’m gonna do it.” I understand that it is the disposal of the animal and it is getting $10 dollars. But when we start to think about the responsibility to our industry and we start to think about the responsibility to the American consumer, sometimes presenting some of these animals, whether it’s cancer eyed or an animal that’s severely lame, you know it’s not in the best interest of the animal. It’s not in the best interest of the beef industry and it’s not in the best interest of the American consumer that consumes beef products. So, cancer eye, visible knots, whether we have injection sites or from neck extenders or facilities. We don’t want to send animals with those types of lesions. Another big area that we want to make sure that we don’t send animals is lameness. And here’s some of the reasons why. An animal that is visibly lame or severely lame on your ranch has to be transported. So as that animal is transported, there’s the potential for that animal to become more injured and go down. You have to be the gauge of animals that are fit for transport. If we’re moving those animals through a sale barn system, where they’re going to be then commingled on trucks and transported longer times periods away from…to a cow slaughter facility, the potential of interaction with new animals or foreign animals on that truck, could lead to the potential of more injury to that animal and the potential of that animal going down. So, really evaluating that animal for lameness, the severity of the lameness and then which marketing strategy you’re gonna use, you’ll be able to determine is this animal at risk of going down and being down on the truck when they arrive? If an animal is down on the truck when they arrive, the animal is immediately euthanized at the slaughter facility and then is removed from the truck. Because we cannot drag a downed animal. So understanding the value of that animal and understanding when it’s being transferred. Another thing is we never transport bulls and cows together to prevent the riding syndrome when they’re transported. Other things that we want to be able to be on the look out for is body condition score. Body condition score in the beef industry is a one through nine. And we want to ship cows that are in that four to five body condition score range. If the animals are too thin, they don’t bring as much at the market and they don’t have as much cut out when they get to the packer. We’re going to take a break now, but when we come back, we’re going to dive into body condition score, what different body conditions scores look like, and the importance of…and maybe some of the marketing strategies, putting some weight on those animals, getting the proper body condition score, making more money for you, making a better product for the packer.

(Dan) Hey folks, Dr. Dan from Doc Talk. Sure glad that you joined us. Glad that you came back after the messages. We’re talking about something that is really important to the beef industry and that is the quality of cull or market cows. And it’s hard for me to say market cows. I was raised cull cow, cull cow, cull cow. The new term is market cow. So, we were talking about body condition score being important. You know making sure that we send the right animals. And it’s so important such that USDA now has, and always has had, yield grades that are dependent on the body condition score. And it affects the pricing in which you’re gonna receive when you market these animals. If we market animals, yield grade is based on basically two things- the amount of muscling that is on the carcass and the amount of fat that is on the carcass. So, the more muscle, the lower the yield grade, the less fat also lower the yield grade. So, as body condition score gets lower, we’re gonna have a lower yield grade in these animals. But there’s a caveat. There’s a point in time with cows, we’re trying to maximize the amount of beef on the carcass, so an animal that is going to yield a lot of muscle-so a heavy animal, or a heavy carcass with low body fat is going to have a lower yield grade, but bring more money than an animal that has a lot of muscle with more fat as we talked fat will decrease yield grade. But as we move into these light weight carcasses where body condition score is indicative of starvation or body condition score is indicative of no muscling and no fat, that’s an animal that is actually going to receive a discount higher than what we would see in some of the other yield grades. So the three yield grades we have are breaker, boner and lean. Breaker are cattle that have body condition score 7 or higher, 7, 8 and 9. These are…have a lot of fat on these animals. These are almost obese cows. We don’t see very many of these animals. Boner animals are cattle that are between the body condition score of 5 and 7. And then the lean animals are body condition score 1 to 4. If we’re marketing cattle that are healthy, cows that are healthy, there’s about a $10 dollar per 100 weight break on a carcass basis between a lean, boner and breaker, indicating that quality grade and yield grade are very important. On the quality grade, there are three quality grades basically for culled cows-canner, cutter and utility. And when we go move from the percentage price increase in culled cows from canner to cutter to utility, we’re gonna have a nine percent increase if we go from canner to cutter. And we’re gonna have a five percent increase as we go from cutter to utility. So, just like our other marketing system of fed cattle, having an animal that has muscling, have a higher muscling score or a lower yield grade, with more marbling is going to bring one, or an animal that’s going to bring more value to you. Understanding this is important and when we come back we’re gonna talk a little bit about how you can market cows, maybe instead of directly shipping them, maybe feeding those animals to improve your yield grade, to improve your quality grade, and to improve your bottom line. Thanks for watching DocTalk, we’ll be right back after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here from the College of Veterinary Medicine talking about market cows. And when we decide that we’re gonna market a cow in the fall, basically we’re preg checking cows, we’re making a decision, this one’s open, there’s two things to really go in your mind. One, am I gonna market the animal now, or two, do I want to maintain that animal for two, three months, feed it on a grain diet and then market the animals in January, February, in that time frame? Historically that January, February cull cow market is higher than the November, December market. But there’s some things to consider. First of all, there’s what we call the white fat program. Cows that are out on grass, cows that are consuming forages, generally have a yellowish tinge to their fat from the beta carotene. If we place those animals on a grain diet for up to 75 to 90 days, that fat will actually change colors and provide a more appealing cut of meat for the meat counter or for marketing of the beef. So, that’s one thing to consider. The other one is, is I want to feed them to increase pounds that I’m gonna sell at market. When grain prices are lower, it can be advantageous. When grain prices are extremely high, these cows aren’t the most efficient at converting feed to gain, so that needs to go into the thought process. On average you can expect about a 2.8 to 3 pounds average daily gain for culled cows. The feed efficiency is somewhere between 7 to 10 and it’s more efficient the first 30 days and very inefficient to feed a cow the last 60 days or the last 30 days out of 90. While you have low gains and high feed efficiency, it’s due to high dry matter intake. Using a steroid implant in these cows can be very beneficial at improving gains by 10 to 20 percent. The other reason why we might feed these animals is to move them into a different quality grade, to move more of them from the canner to the cutter, cutter to utility. And generally speaking to make that shift from 64 percent canner to 28 percent cutter. Or 64 percent canner population to a 57 you need to feed those animals at least 50 days. And if you feed ’em longer you will provide even more quality grade, when we’re taking a look at some of these animals. The big reason why we want to take a look at this, and the reason why we brought this mention up today is that in 2007, 54 percent of the culled cow meat that was marketed went to be cut into ribeyes, tenderloins and steaks. Today, thanks to the beef quality audit, the National Beef Quality Audit from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, nearly 84 percent of the culled cow cuts are now being marketed as steaks, whole muscles, ribeyes. So, improving the quality, improving the cut ability of these culled cows is just something that’s just not only good for you as a producer and your profitability but could be really good for our industry. I really appreciate you watching the show. Thanks for watching Doc Talk. Remember always work with your local practitioner and if you want to know more about what I do here at the College of Veterinary Medicine, you can find us on the web at Thanks for watching DocTalk today. I hope you learned something about market cows. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson and I’m gonna see you down the road.

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