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.
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.