Backgrounding cattle can be time-consuming and expensive. Is it worth the time and expense to sell them through a local auction ring?
Rancher’s Question: Is it worth backgrounding my calves to sell them through a local auction ring?
ASK A CATTLE BUYER…
It is worth backgrounding (also known as preconditioning) some calves for a local auction ring. But, not all herd sizes will see the help of backgrounding come through in their sale check.
A reasonable number of calves to background is about 50 uniformed head, weighing about 550 – 600 pounds at sale time. For any lesser quantities, preconditioning helps a little but would likely not be worth the time and expense.
Calves that are preconditioned can bring an average of $5-$10 per hundred more than calves that did not go through the backgrounding process. Buyers pay more for cattle that carry a lower risk of sickness, stress, and death.
There are some key treatments that buyers look for when cattle carry the label of “backgrounded.” Bull calves should be castrated. All calves should have been:
- blackleg vaccinated
- vaccinations for bovine viral diarrhea (BVD)
- bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV)
- infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR)
Your veterinarian can help you form a vaccination and deworming schedule for your herd.
When taking your preconditioned calves to the sale, remember to let the auction company know that they are backgrounded. Otherwise, they have no way of knowing your cattle hold a higher value.
As with any part of your livestock operation, preparing and planning for backgrounding is important. To grow a calf to this ideal weight will take months and will rack up some expenses along the way.
Here are items to consider when deciding if backgrounding is right for your cattle operation:
- Pasture land and hay
- Veterinarian medicine and supply cost
- Feed and grain
- Your payout timeline
- Market price fluctuation
- Other marketing and selling options
Raising preconditioned calves has its advantages in the local auction ring. Remember, planning is key to making it a profitable addition to your livestock operation.
FIND MORE LIVESTOCK QUESTIONS ANSWERED:
Our Ask a Cattle Buyer series is designed to help everyday cattle owners get the answers to their livestock market questions. Longtime cattle buyer, Craig Archer, gives you the answers to your market questions from his years in the seat of an auction ring gallery. Send your questions to [email protected].
*Texas Farm & Ranch Solution, LLC brings you helpful information for your livestock operation. Texas Farm & Ranch Solution, LLC, and its associates offer no guarantees of profit from this information. Changes to your operation are at your discretion.
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