Livestock News

Cow/calf conversation: How to choose the right finisher?


You’ve made it through calving season successfully, you’re feeding them well through weaning … now where to send that precious cargo? One of the biggest decisions cow/calf producers make is selecting a finisher operation.

Twig Marston, Technical Sales Field Manager at BioZyme offers three timely tips when selecting a partner in feeding and finishing calves:

1. Share common goals. Marston said it is important that the backgrounder or feeder selected has common goals and philosophies in animal husbandry as the cow/calf producer does for his or her own operation. This includes everything from genetics and feeding to herd health and nutrition. Some yards specialize in high-quality cattle; some in high-risk; and others yet, might have a focus on specific marketing programs. Select a yard or backgrounder that fits your animals’ needs and your marketing goals.

“You want to make sure that your cattle have the opportunity to perform to their highest potential so you can make a profit through retained ownership,” Marston said.

If your end-product is destined for an all-natural market, you would want to be sure that the lot you select to finish your cattle knows your goals.

2. Provide services. Marston said a great backgrounder or feedlot will provide more services than just caring for your cattle. Does the lot offer short-term financial assistance? Do they have their own marketing programs that your cattle would qualify for? Do they feed high-quality cattle for branded programs?  If you are paying for a service, make sure you are getting the most for your money.

3. Trust.  Make sure you trust the owner, manager, and employees who will be caring for your cattle on a daily basis. Often times, you ship your cattle hundreds of miles away. If you can’t trust they people caring for them, then you need to start from scratch to find someone you can trust.

What if you are new to the cow/calf enterprise and don’t have a relationship built with a backgrounder or feeder or you don’t want to do things just like dad or grandpa did?

The best way to find a reputable partner is to start communicating with others in the industry. Attend professional meetings and conventions and talk to other producers with similar goals as you. Read industry news and ask questions.

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