Backgrounding Cattle Examined

Many beef producers question the profitability of backgrounding cattle before selling their calves. And every producer’s situation is different. Location, facilities, feed supply, and commodity prices are just a few factors to consider when deciding between backgrounding your calves after weaning or selling them right off the cow.

Market prices are also a significant factor to think about. This is especially true this year when it is very tempting to sell early and avoid the other costs incurred when keeping those calves longer yet still receiving a reasonable price for those calves. If you are considering keeping and backgrounding calves, list the projected expenses to determine if putting on that extra 200 pounds with the resources on your farm or ranch is economical. Pounds pay, and most in the industry are in the business of raising pounds.

Yet, don’t decide to background because your neighbor is doing it or because that is just what you have always done. It must fit and work for your program. If it works and you plan on backgrounding, work backward to determine your end goal; target weight or sale date. Start there to build your game plan. If you wean 550 lb. calves in October and want to sell 750 lb. calves in January, you have a place to start determining how to feed and handle those cattle. Managing those calves to get them off to the best possible start makes reaching the end goal easier.