Cattle producers do have an economically feasible alternative to selling their calves at weaning: It’s called backgrounding.
That’s a feeding period after weaning that lasts from at least two weeks to 15 weeks or more, according to Karl Hoppe, North Dakota State University Extension Service area livestock specialist at the Carrington Research Extension Center.
“Backgrounding calves serves to adapt cattle to feed, get them through the stress of weaning, build immunity with proper vaccinations, add weight by converting either home-grown or purchased feeds, and market at different times and weights,” says Dale Naze, Extension animal systems agent for McKenzie County. “Getting calves to gain weight efficiently and profitably is the goal.”
Producers may find additional opportunities to market their calves if they background them before selling them, says Tim Petry, NDSU Extension livestock marketing economist.
Hoppe, Naze and Petry have developed videos that will help producers learn more about backgrounding calves, the economics of backgrounding and how to determine whether backgrounding is a viable option for them. The videos are posted on NDSU’s new CattleDocs website, http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/cattledocs.
This site will provide information on a number of cattle production topics, including nutrition, nutrient management, reproduction, economics, meat, genetics, range management, veterinary medicine and the Beef Quality Assurance program. The site also will list upcoming cattle production-related events such as workshops and clinics.