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Economics of early weaning in northern great plains beef cattle production system

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DOI: 10.4236/as.2013.45031    4,195 Downloads   5,928 Views Citations


Early removal of the calf from its dam reduces forage needs of the cow-calf enterprise and has been found to improve BW gain and pregnancy rates in the cow herd. However, early weaning may not always be economically viable for producers and the risk should be considered carefully. This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of early and normal weaning of steer and heifer calves on net income at weaning. Calves from Angus xHereforddams were randomly assigned to one of two weaning treatments. Calves were either early weaned (EW) at 80-d of age or remained with their dams until normal weaning (NW) at 213-d of age. Calves assigned to EW treatment received a 17.5% crude protein and 0.82 Mcal/kg net energy diet for approximately 130-d in a drylot. All economic analyses were conducted at normal weaning for both NW and EW calves. At normal weaning, price of steers ($US/kg) was lower (P = 0.003) and weaned steer value ($US/steer) was greater (P < 0.01) for EW steers; however, no difference (P = 0.18) was found in price of heifers ($US/kg) and weaned heifer value ($US/heifer) between NW and EW heifers. Feed cost was increased (P < 0.001) in EW steers and heifers compared to NW calves. Net revenue for both weaned steers and heifers was reduced (P < 0.001) in EW calves due to the feed cost of the growing diet. This study indicates that early weaning calves at 80-d of age decrease weaned calf value and net revenue for the cow-calf segment.

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Mulliniks, J. , Waterman, R. and Geary, T. (2013) Economics of early weaning in northern great plains beef cattle production system. Agricultural Sciences, 4, 219-223. doi: 10.4236/as.2013.45031.

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