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There are numerous opportunities to do this on a "commercial basis."  It
requires some planning and record keeping because commercial lots want to
feed groups of at least 40 head (on truckload of fat cattle departing the
feedlot) and many prefer groups of 100 or so.  You must be careful to
assemble uniform groups and have a sure-fire identification system.  It is
very easy to get cattle mixed up if tags are lost.  Over the past 5 years,
I developed a similar system in Oklahoma.  We fed over 700 head in a
commingled setting at a commercial lot.  We also collected carcass data and
produced several reports for participants including economic summaries,
feedlot performance, health, and carcass data.  We used an electronic tag
(reusable) and visual tags to assure that we didn't loose track of
anything.  We also used some fairly complex computer algorithms to estimate
how much feed each animal eats each day.  This is essential for a
functioning program.  It is unfair to assume that every calf eats the
same.  Our system allotted feed on the basis of weight and rate of gain.

I would assume that something like this is possible even if the total
numbers are as small as 150-200 head.  But some careful planning is needed
up front.  I assume that feedlots would be available as close as
Pennsylvania or New York.  However, I am sure we could get something done
in Ohio.

In order to pull something like this off, it becomes necessary to have a
means of financing.  This is where commercial feedlots can be a major
assistance.  Most feedlots will finance the feed and deduct feed costs and
interest from the proceeds of the sale (when cattle are
slaughtered).  Therefore, no one has to come up with feed money at the
beginning of the program.  Of course, producers would have to pay for
freight, tags or any other expense incurred before the calves enter the
feedlot.  But this is minor compared to the capital needed to feed a pen of
calves.

Just some thoughts.....I believe this is a good idea and it should be
pursued.  However, it is critical that we have a complete plan before
initiating such a program.  Sounds like a good topic for a discussion group.

John

  At 08:42 AM 11/15/00 -0500, you wrote:
>To add more info. to my previously posed question, Dick DelFavero is also
>interested in sending a minimum of 25 head of calves to a feedlot on a
>retained ownership basis with the hopes of also receiving feed and carcass
>data back.  He also has been sending calves to the Cornell program this year.
>Cathy