Beef producers can increase their profits by performing recommended spring management practices. Three of the most important management practices to perform in the spring include castration, dehorning, and implanting, according to Clyde Lane, a beef specialist with University of Tennessee Extension.
Producers should castrate all commercial male calves in the spring if it was not done at birth. “The preferred method of castration is with a knife,” Lane said. “This method is 100 percent effective and usually causes no problems if done properly.” Using a Newberry knife is the safest way to perform the surgical castration.
Lane advises farmers to use an insecticide spray on the wound to control flies.
Market reports indicate that calves marketed as bulls sell for $5.00 to $7.00 per hundred pounds less than comparable steers depending on the season. On a 500-pound animal this could amount to $25.00 to $35.00. In some situations the discount can be much greater, Lane said.
“Horns need to be removed from all calves” Lane said. “Horns need to be removed as early in the life of the calf as possible. They should be removed when the calf is small because it causes less stress on the animal and it is much safer for both the calf and the producer.”
Failure to dehorn usually results in a discount of $1.50 to $2.00 per hundred pounds. For a 500 pound calf this amounts to $7.50 to $10.00 per calf. "Even with good cattle prices producers cannot afford this discount," Lane said.
Implanting of calves can result in 15 to 25 pounds of extra weight at weaning Lane said. Additional gain can be achieved by implanting a second time. “Be sure to follow manufacturer's recommendations regarding implant sites, re-implanting, and implanting replacement heifers,” Lane said.
Performing recommended spring management practices can increase profits. Do not delay castrating, dehorning and implanting beef calves on your farm.