Cow-Calf Operations

What is Cow-Calf Operations?
0 Cow-Calf Operation is a method of raising beef cattle
in which a permanent herd of cows is kept by a farmer
or rancher to produce calves for later sale.
How does it work?
0 The producers role is to produce a calf to be used in
the beef market. They can only produce one calf every
12 months.
0 A cow carries a calf for 9 months before it gives birth.
Then she nurses it for another 6 months before it is
weaned and sold. We can rebreed a cow 3 months
after she has given birth that way she is carrying her
next calf while she is nursing one.
Different types of Cow-Calf
0 Commercial Operations-Generally involves cross-bred
cows that are bred to produce calves that are mainly
for beef production.
0 Seedstock Operations- Where producers raise a
favorite breed (sometimes more than one) and breed
cows to get calves that are grown and sold to other
producers for replacement stock.
0 Forages:
0 Forages are the man food source for all cow-calf operators.
0 Less labor requirements:
0 Most all of the labor required is for maintenance of the ranch.
0 Low death loss:
0 Insures good profits and cattle just don’t lose their offspring.
0 Don’t convert grass as good as feed:
0 Cattle don’t convert grass to body weight as quickly as they do
with feed.
0 High cost to start an operations:
0 It cost more to get started with cattle than any other species.
EPD Basics
0 EPD stands for Expected
Progeny Difference.
0 EPD’s predict the
performance of future
offspring from an
individual animal.
0 Each EPD is an estimate
of the individual’s
genetic merit for
producing future
0 A bull with “superior”
EPDs does not guarantee
you superior calves.
What EPD’s are Not
0 Predict average differences between sires- not
actual performance.
0 EPD’s do not predict uniformity or variation in calf
0 Not an absolute guarantee.
0 Not static.
0 Breed Average EPD for any trait is not necessarily.
0 Not Directly comparable across breeds.
Challenges with EPD’s
0 Balanced trait selection
0 Which traits?
0 Proper weighting
0 Economic value of each EPD
0 Relative to a unit change
0 Relative to its importance in selection
Facts about Cow/Calf
0 Based on the U.S. Census of Agriculture, less than 3
percent of all cow-calf producers obtained all of their
income from farming.
0 Producers on operations with 50 beef cows devoted
an average of 28.9 percent of their work time to the
operation compared with 47.3 percent for operations
with 50 to 99 beef cows.
0 Small-scale cow-calf operations.
0 There is over 200 by products that come from a cow.
Facts about Cow-Calf
Operations Continued
0 Cow-Calf Operator- conception to weaning = 15 months.
0 Backgrounder- raises the weaned calves until they are ready
to go to the feedlot. This process takes about 4-6 months.
0 Feedlot- fattens the cattle until they are at slaughter weight
(1400-1600 lbs.) which takes 5-6 months.
0 Total time that is required to get the beef to the consumer:
0 First thought of the next calf crop to the table- just over 2
0 From the birth to the table- right at 16-17 months.
0 "Cow-Calf Operations." Glen Rose Arkansas FFA. Arkansas FFA. Web. 16 Apr.
2012. <>.
0 Greiner, Ph.D., Scott P. "Expected Progeny Differences (EPD's) & Indexes."
Louisiana-Mississippi-Alabama Beef Cattle Genetics. Web. 17 Apr. 2012.
0 Hansen, Gary R., and David G. Riley. "Expected Progeny Differences in Beef
Cattle." IFAS Extension. University of Florida. Web. 17 Apr. 2012. <http://>.
0 Karin. "How to Start up a Beef Cow Calf Operation.” WikiHow. 30 July 2011. Web.
4 Apr. 2012. <>.
0 "Understanding Hereford EPD's." Star Lake Herefords. Web. 17 Apr. 2012.
0 Womach, Jasper. “Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs, and Laws, 2005
Edition.” Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress.
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