We think of the cattle industry as big business, but in reality the cow-calf sector is made up of a large quantity of small-scale operations. According to Oklahoma State University, 68% of cow-calf producers in Oklahoma have cowherds with less than 100 cows.
Small operators do not usually have the advantages large cow-calf herds have when it comes to obtaining carcass reports and performance information, which aid in decision making for the producer. Most of the time, cattlemen select traits to emphasize, but the results are not evaluated until long after calves leave the ranch. However, the OK Steer Feedout program can help those producers by offering them an opportunity to learn more about the cattle they are raising and how to improve them to meet their specific goals.
“The OK Steer Feedout is a producer information feedback program where we assist cow calf producers that want to find out more about their calves and the final product they’re producing,” said Greg Highfill, Woods County Oklahoma State University Extension educator and OK Steer Feedout chairman.
Coordinated through the OSU Extension service, producers are able to select five representatives from their herd, send them to be fed out in a commercial yard and receive a report on their post-weaning performance and standard carcass data. Some examples of the information participants can expect include: feedlot average daily gain, health performance, carcass quality grade, ribeye area, marbling score, U.S. Department of Agriculture yield grade data and grid marketing value.
“We really emphasize that producers can take whichever data they consider most important to their selection criteria and help their herd,” Highfill said. “To some producers, it’s feedlot performance, to others it’s the percentage Choice. Based on the goals that that ranch has and how they want to market their calves, they utilize the data that fits them the best.”
The combined data producers can obtain from this program is a tremendous asset whether they are selling the calves at weaning or marketing them in a carcass grid program.
“It’s an opportunity for smaller operations to get some feedlot and carcass data that they wouldn’t normally have access to,” Highfill said.
A minimum of five steers is required to participate. Steers must be born after Nov. 1, 2018, weaned by Oct. 3, 2019, and it is recommended that cattle be put through the Oklahoma Quality Beef Network 45-day vaccinations protocol. The entry deadline to apply is Nov. 8 and the delivery dates for calves in the program is Nov. 17 or 18 at Cattlemen’s Choice Feedyard in Gage, Oklahoma. Steers remain the property of the consigner and the feed expenses are financed to the end of the feeding period and subtracted from the final payment. There is a $25 per ranch entry fee to participate. To learn more, visit www.beefextension.com.
Lacey Newlin can be reached at 580-748-1892 or email@example.com.