See information on improving calf value and profitability shared during the 2022 Florida Cattlemen’s Institute & Allied Trade Show.

Florida is mainly a cow-calf state, meaning the main focus of the operation is raising calves to sell. As such, the push is to have heifers produce and to raise calves with the highest value for prime profitability. At the 2022 Florida Cattlemen’s Institute & Allied Trade Show, one of the educational sessions was on improving calf value and profitability. The slideshow accompanying the educational session can be found on UF/IFAS’s South Florida Beef-Forage Program website. See the highlights below.

Improving Calf Value and Profitability

According to the slideshow, the three main keys to profitability are Reproduction, Animal Performance, and Marketing. In terms of Calf Value, Calf Performance determines the value of the calf and Marketing determines the proportion of the calf value that a cattle producer receives.

Primary factors affecting weaned calf value include:

  • Weight
  • Sex
  • Brahman percentage
  • Body Condition Score
  • Characteristics of the Coat, including Color, Color Pattern, and Hair Length

Secondary factors affecting weaned calf value include:

  • Age
  • Frame Score
  • Genetics
  • Nutrition
  • Health
  • Seasonality
  • Geographical Location
  • Weather
  • Stock Market

The presentation encourages producers to “Establish a sustainable planned crossbreeding program to maximize heterosis and breed complimentarity, while meeting the needs of the environment, the buyer, and the consumer.” Heterosis is where a crossbred animal shows qualities superior to both parents, and the slideshow maintains that heterosis can result in a “24% Improvement in pounds of calf weaned per cow.”

Calf performance can be improved by

  • Nutrition, such as using a Mineral Program, focusing on forages, supplementing feed, etc.
  • Focusing on animal health, such as with vaccinations, deworming, handling best practices, etc.
  • Utilizing marketing, or joining programs that verify a calf’s genetics, vaccinations, processes, and more. Examples include the Beef Quality Assurance program.

The presentation maintains beef producers should formulate a marketing plan before a breeding plan, because determining how producers will market their calves to buyers and consumers will help guide what breeds and calf features will best fit the demands of buyers and consumers.

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