PRESS BULLETIN 187
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
YOUNG BEEF THE MOST PROFITABLE
By John M. Scott
At the Experiment Station farm, during the spring of 1908, fifteen native
Florida cows were selected. From these fifteen cows, twelve calves were
produced. One cow failed to breed; a second cow was found to be in calf
when the experiment started, and was discarded; while the third cow met
with an accident and aborted.
The calves were born from January 6 to June 2, 1909. Three of them
were born in January, two in February, one in March, five in April, and one
in June. This variation of age covered about the entire breeding season as
practiced by Florida stockmen. Had the calves all come in January or Febru-
ary, one might form the erroneous opinion that only the calves that come in
January or February could be put on the market at a young age. The fact
of the matter is that the calves dropped in April made nearly as good gains,
and were nearly as heavy at weaning time, as were the January calves.
The birth-weights of these calves varied from 41.5 to 61 pounds, with
an average of 50.8 pounds per head. The birth-weight does not seem to
have much to do with the growth of the individual up to weaning time. Some
of those that weighed the least at birth were among the heaviest at weaning
The figures seem to show that the birth-weights of the calves dropped in
January are less than those dropped in April. However, before we can
make any definite statement regarding this, it would be necessary to gather
like data on a large number of animals.
Weight at Weaning Time
From birth until weaning time the cows and calves were all given the
April 6, 1912
same care; that is, they were all kept on the same range, so that all calves
had the same chance so far as range conditions were concerned.
The calves were all weaned on October 28, 1909. At this time the oldest
calf in the lot was not the heaviest. But, as would be expected, the youngest
calf in the lot was the smallest. The heaviest calf at weaning time was bo'n
on January 31. Its birth-weight was 51 pounds, and at weaning time it
weighed 398 pounds. The youngest calf was five months old when weaned,
its birth-weight was 52 pounds, and at weaning time it weighed 265 pounds.
The average weight of the twelve head at weaning time was 338 pounds.
Profit from Young Beef
The average age at weaning was about seven and one-half months. The
market value of these calves at weaning time was $3.7t per hundred. At
this time the heaviest calf weighed 398 pounds, which, at $3.75 per hundred,
gives it a value of $14.92. At weaning time the smallest calf weighed 265
pounds, and at $3.75 per hundred, was worth $9.94. Since they averaged
338 pounds per head, a price of $3.75 per hundred gives them an average
value of $12.66 per head.
From $10 to $14 per head may well be considered a good price for calves
at weaning time. There have been several thousand head of two- and three-
year-old steers sold in Florida in the past few years at from $10 to $14 per
head. These same animals, had they been given reasonable attention, could
have been sold at weaning time for about the same price, and the net profit
per head would have been a great deal more.
The profits derived by selling calves at weaning time are much greater
than by keeping them until two or three years of age. The calf up to this
time eats but little grass, as it depends largely on the milk of its mother
for nourishment. The cost of keeping the cow is the same whether the calf
is sold at weaning time or kept until three years of age. When sold at
weaning time, the cost of keeping the calf through the winter is eliminated.
The winter season is the critical period for the calf. It is also the season
of the year when the cost of keeping the animal is largest.
Another point that must be considered is that when the crop of calves
is sold at weaning time a much larger number of breeding cows can be kept
on the same range than it is possible to do when the beef herd is not sold
until two or three years of age. This is an important consideration, since
the overstocking of the range is a serious mistake in the production of live
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