Ranchers can make more money on their calves if they strive for a three-dimensional cow-calf herd. That's what Tom Brink, founder and owner of Brink Consulting and Trading in Brighton, Col., told about 180 farmers and ranchers attending the first State of Beef conference in North Platte recently.
The first dimension is one of the most important, he said. "You need to have a functional cow," said Brink. But growers should aspire for more. "To have a two-dimensional herd, you want functional cows that are adapted females with good reproduction rates, reasonable feed costs, longevity and that produce calves that have marketability for feeders," he explained. "You want those calves to perform above average in the feedyard, and you will enjoy better demand for your calves and better sales prices."
A three-dimensional herd is even more profitable. "You want to have the ability to create value that includes calves that produce superior carcasses" because 70% of fed cattle produced today are sold under a carcass-merit payment system, he said. "That's why carcass value makes this list," Brink said. "Following these dimensions will allow you to maximize profit potential in all market conditions. Everybody in the system wins, because you are producing value at the ranch level and adding value at the feeder and packer level too."
He told producers that they need to prepare their calves as best they can to go into a challenging environment. Feeders and packers value traits like calves that are extremely healthy and can withstand less than desirable weather conditions that always come along, he noted. "Calves need to grow fast and put on weight efficiently," he said. "And they need to grade." Cow-calf producers that have calves that excel at these traits will have feeders lined up to purchase their calves, said Brink.
You can learn more by reading an upcoming print article in Nebraska Farmer, or by contacting Brink at [email protected].