Beef network helps farmers enhance livestock values

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The Kentucky Beef Network (KBN) and the University of Kentucky have developed a new program, funded by the state Agricultural Development Board, to enhance the value of feeder calves in Kent-ucky. 

This project lasts for three breeding seasons — Nov-ember 2011 to January 2012, March-June 2012, and November 2012 to January 2013 — and it is a great opportunity for beef cattle producers in Carroll County.

The Management and Genetics 60 (60-day post-weaning) program involves the KBN partnering with beef producers to synchronize estrus in their beef females for timed insemination. Producers will artifically inseminate their females to a small, select group of sires that are proven in their ability to sire productive, profitable calves.

Steers sired by AI will be managed according to Certified Preconditioned for Health requirements and will be monitored for a minimum of 60 days post-weaning. Calves will be age and source verified, and will be subjected to ultrasound to determine potential carcass merit.  Thus, we will be able to market feeder steers that are age, source, and genetically verified for superior performance.

According to previous University of Kentucky data, these calves are $150 more valuable at harvest than steers from the same herds that are sired by non-proven natural service sires.

Marketing agents in Kentucky have predicted that feeder calves that are age, source, and genetically verified are likely worth $7-10 more per hundred than a normal CPH-45 feeder, if sold in load lots.

The heifers from the MAG-60 program will also greatly enhance your, as the producer, ability to increase profits.

First, since all calves will be subjected to carcass ultrasonography, you can retain heifers with the genetic potential to excel in carcass traits. The ultrasound data can also be used to cull the cow herd of low performing mature cows.

Second, heifers not retained will be developed and sold in a premium bred-heifer sale.  This heifer sale(s) should also increase your opportunity to diversify your marketing options and increase profit potential.

The KBN will provide the cost to AI companies for their service and the semen (approximately $20 per female), half the cost of the ultrasound, and the list of potential sires.  Producers are responsible for the cost of the estrus synchronization products (approximately $20-$25 per female), labor and facilities to accomplish the AI, half the cost of the ultrasound, and the cost for age and source verification.

This program is limited to 4,000 cows each breeding season, so it is important to get involved as soon as possible.  If you are interested in enhancing the value of your calves, improving the genetics of your herd, and learning more about the MAG-60 program, contact the Extension Office at (502) 732-7030.


Dates of interest

 Dec. 13:Extension Council Holiday Party, 6:30 p.m., Carroll County Extension Office.

Jan. 31 and Feb. 1:The Vegetable Academy:  A Short Course to Advance Vegetable Production in Kentucky, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (both days), Henry County Extension Office.  Fee: $30.  RSVP to the Carroll County Extension Office by Jan. 27.


Christin Herbst is the Carroll County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to Christin.Herbst@uky.edu.