Keeping Books on Average Gain

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Brute 23
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Keeping Books on Average Gain

Postby Brute 23 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:17 am

The last couple of years I have tried to do a better job of keeping records of the cattle on paper not just in my head. Every thing has been getting tagged, matched up calves, ages, dams and sires that I know, and at least the month and year the calves were born.

So we sold our first group of calves last week that I actually have ALL the info on. :banana: Its easier typed than done.

One of my main reasons for doing this was to see the avg lb per day of growth. Going to calving seasons made it easier to see but now seeing the numbers on a spreadsheet makes it very apparent who is getting it done and who is not.

I can see a lot of the better, F1 type cows doing around 2.5/d and some of the more plain, crossbred, type cattle doing 2-2.1/d.

What have yall seen or what would you think would be "normal"? I'm trying to decide where to draw the line.

From what I can tell I may be up to 0.1/d off by not having the exact birth day and using mo/ yrs. That works for me given that Im not trying to compare to hard across the cattle sector as a whole at this point... mainly just trying to find the weak links in our herd.

I've only entered in one property so far which was our driest this year. Im going to go the one with the most grass next and see if there is any difference on the weights.

This is very interesting to me... I could see it being borderline addictive. :)
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Re: Keeping Books on Average Gain

Postby Brute 23 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:27 pm

Im getting some more entered in and it looks like there are some that do just shy of #3 per day. Im having to stop and change my spreadsheet up because it was too time consuming to enter them in by hand. When I get done Im going to print them out in greatest # per day gains and great dollars per day gains.
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Re: Keeping Books on Average Gain

Postby Katpau » Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:11 pm

I do this every year. Like you said, once you start doing it, it becomes rather addictive. I weigh each calf on the day it is born and again on the day I wean. I divide the difference between birth weight and weaning weight by the number of days between weigh dates. Last years average on 39 calves was 2.44 pounds per day and the highest ADG was 2.86 and the lowest was right at 2.00. These calves are strictly on pasture and cows milk. They don't receive any supplementation between birth and weaning. I could do better on improved pastures or with irrigation, but it was cheap land and it is what I've got. These are pretty much straight bred Angus with a few high percentage Angus mixed in. Most are in the 1150 to 1300 pound range. This average is on all calves including those born to heifers. The cows, of course have higher ADG on their calves than do the heifers. Also the bull/steer calves gain faster than the heifer calves. There are lots of ways to break these numbers down further, and that is kind of fun to do too.
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Re: Keeping Books on Average Gain

Postby Boot Jack Bulls » Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:37 pm

Brute, your next step should be figuring out weaning ratios. It is really eye opening for most people just which cows are doing the most work. I also like to keep track of weight per day of age. This helps give insight to performance on heifers retained for breeding stock for example. I pretty much take a weight anytime I run something through the chute and log it on cattle max. Over time, the amount of info you can build up is astounding.
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Re: Keeping Books on Average Gain

Postby 5S Cattle » Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:27 pm

Boot Jack Bulls wrote:Brute, your next step should be figuring out weaning ratios. It is really eye opening for most people just which cows are doing the most work. I also like to keep track of weight per day of age. This helps give insight to performance on heifers retained for breeding stock for example. I pretty much take a weight anytime I run something through the chute and log it on cattle max. Over time, the amount of info you can build up is astounding.

What kind of scale do you have and what’s it cost if you don’t mind. Was kicking around getting one the other day
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Re: Keeping Books on Average Gain

Postby BC » Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:36 pm

Brute you are right about it can be addictive. Had an old man tell me years ago, "you can't manage what you don't measure". I have found there to be a lot of truth in that statement.
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Re: Keeping Books on Average Gain

Postby gizmom » Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:45 pm

Measuring your cow herds production is in my opinion one of the most important tools you have in the tool box. It’s easy to go out look at your cow herd and see that fat slicked off mamm and think wow what a beautiful cow. The you see that little cow looking worn down and think man she is gonna have to go to the cull pen. But you decide to get weights and low and behold fat and slick comes up open and her bull calf weans off at 525 pounds. Then you run little worn down cow through look she bred to the AI service and then you run her baby across the scale he weighs in at 690. Which cow is your most profitable? If you want to be profitable in the cattle business you need to measure production

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Re: Keeping Books on Average Gain

Postby bird dog » Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:07 pm

I do mine like Katpau except I don't weigh the new borns. I really don't care what the calf weighed at birth, just what it weighs at weaning divided by days old. It takes a few years to really notice a pattern but you will start to see things like how much a difference the date the calf is born matters on some properties where your grass is only good at certain times of the year.
Its also valuable to see what the calfs weight is percentage wise to the cows weight. My most efficient cow weighs only about 950 but will wean a calf that weighs 550 at around 7 months or about 2.62lb/day. One of my big cows will bring one that gains 3+ a day every year but percentage wise, she's not very efficient.

I recently culled a really nice looking Charolais cross cow that weighed about 1400 because her calves only gained about 2.25 a day. Some dairy cross cows will amaze you on what they can put on a calf.

I'm like boot jack. If it goes through the chute. It gets weighed. If its going to the sale barn, it gets weighed before hand. Good scales are invaluable.
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Re: Keeping Books on Average Gain

Postby Nesikep » Wed Jul 18, 2018 2:28 am

I'd like to get a scale as well.. I can guess the weights of my retained heifers pretty close by comparing what the steers and non replacements weighed in when they went to the sale.
For a while I did weigh tape on my calves every week for a year.. just that shows some interesting trends though.. One of the calves that has turned into one of my best cows had the steadiest gain, while others would have growth spurts then stagnate.

While weight certainly is important, I'm also looking at getting a more consistent phenotype and lock in a certain look, then someday start culling what I just don't find visually appealing and/or productive.. I'm a long ways from having everything I want though
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Re: Keeping Books on Average Gain

Postby wbvs58 » Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:04 am

As I have said before, having a set of scales is what got me into this mess. Once I started measuring I had to keep on improving.
On a side note the electronic ID devices we have to have on our cattle make it easy to record weights and send them straight to a spreadsheet. I don't do it as my brain can't keep up with it and I need to right down but most commercial operations it just happens.

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Re: Keeping Books on Average Gain

Postby Supa Dexta » Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:43 am

Anything under 2 is gone, under 2.3 is looked at closely as to why its that low. Avg is usually in the 2.6-2.75 range, some pushing 3.3 on the top end. No creep, recorded birth weights and weaning weights, always around 205 days. No guess work really.
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Re: Keeping Books on Average Gain

Postby Brute 23 » Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:18 am

Some very good info here. Thanks for the responses.

This will really make culling a lot easier. If you have a cow that is a PIA and its on the bottom side of the list it makes it real easy to cut her or with droughts or any thing. I had some questions about what to expect out of bulls a while back. Seeing the numbers the cows can put up really makes you see it is worth it to put the more expensive, high powered bulls on them. On the flip side, like some of yall said, you can highlight the top producers and look for when they have heifers.
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Re: Keeping Books on Average Gain

Postby Katpau » Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:36 am

I weigh newborns out in the pasture with a hanging scale. My husband and I lift the heavier calves together. I think it is important to have accurate birth weights and accurate days of age. For example, if you have two heifer calves that both weigh 580 pounds at 205 days of age, but one weighed 65 pounds at birth and the other 105 pounds, the 65 pound calf had a ADG of 2.51 and the 105 pound calf had a ADG of 2.32. Not a huge difference, but I still consider it important enough to measure accurately. I also like to know birth weights, because I consider them when selecting replacements. In my example both those calves would give me pause in selecting replacements. The bigger calf, because I don't want to select for cows that produce calves of a size that could cause calving difficulties in some cows, and the smaller calf might have more difficulty surviving if born in bad weather and has more weight to gain in order to catch up with the others. I like my calves in the 80 to 90 pound range out of cows. Heifers will tend to have smaller calves, so 65 pounds is more likely out of a heifer, but I always wonder what would cause a full grown cow to have such a little calf. Is there something wrong in the womb? Is there something wrong with that calf?

I got my current system from Jeffers in 2008. It cost about $800 then and I see it is now priced at about $1,030. There are cheaper ones, but this one has a good indicator that includes a 6V rechargeable battery with the AC adaptor. We don't have electricity at the chute. I put the load bars under my chute, so I can get a weight any time we are working cattle. It will hold a charge for months. I bring the indicator home before working a lot of cattle and plug it into an outlet to make sure it is fully charged. That battery is 10 years old and spends most of the year outside next to my chute, but it is still working. I test it by weighing myself and my husband before we bring on the cattle. I am really satisfied with it. There are many indicators that enable you to enter cow numbers and save the data to be downloaded to your computer. Those would be great for someone running more cattle, but they are more expensive. We are only working about 80 head at a time, so I bring a list of the cow and calf numbers and write their weights down manually as we work them. Then I record it on my records at home.

Here is a link to a system that appears to be the same one I have.
https://www.valleyvet.com/ct_detail.htm ... D75C37344E
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Re: Keeping Books on Average Gain

Postby Brute 23 » Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:57 am

I can see the definite benefits of knowing your cow size and birth size. For now I will probably have to use an eye ball system on that. I consider it a major step just to get the month the calf was born, get the calves tagged and matched up with their mommas, and get all that entered in the computer after they are sold. :) Just this small step has added ALOT of additional labor and costs that I do believe it worth it.
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Re: Keeping Books on Average Gain

Postby bird dog » Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:24 pm

I'm old fashioned and still keep my records by hand. They go into a spiral notebook at chute side and then I transfer them to a "permanent" 3 ring notebook. Each cow has her own sheet and her calves are on the following pages, three to a page.

I also keep note of how much per day they gain after weaning and how much they shrink when sold.

I have True Test scales under my chute. They are expensive, but after struggling a couple years with a cheap set, I wanted something more reliable.
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