UACES Facebook Grass to Grid Program for Adult and Youth Cattle Producers in Arkansas
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Grass to Grid Program for Cattle Producers


The Grass to Grid program provides Arkansas adult and youth cattle producers an opportunity to retain ownership of calves through feedlot finishing and marketing. The goal of this program is to provide small to medium size cow/calf operators the opportunity to experience the finishing phase of the cattle industry while gaining herd genetic insights.

In collaboration with the Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity and cooperating Iowa feedyards, participants receive individual calf growth and carcass data summaries. Information gained from this program can help direct breeding and marketing. 

Deadlines

  • Last Day to Wean Calves - September 24, 2022

  • Fall 2022 Entry Deadline - September 24, 2022
  • Last Day for Booster Vaccinations - October 25, 2022
  • Fall 2022 Delivery Date - November 8, 2022


General Entry

Entry Form

Rules & Regulations

Health Protocol

Health Verification

Agent Online Entry Form

 

Youth Entry

Coming summer 2022

 

Additional Resources

Grass to Grid Overview - PowerPoint

Grass to Grid Overview - PDF

 

Grass to Grid Frequently Asked Questions

The goal of the program is to learn about how well your operation produces cattle that meet industry standards while also learning about the cattle industry beyond the cow-calf phase. Since steers and heifers perform differently, the committee set a greater minimum for mixed sex lots. To better reflect herd productivity, more than the minimum should be enrolled such as 20% of the calf crop, however, there is also risk with retained ownership, so the committee set a minimum that would be less than this 20% for most operations. 

Calves will be fed in groups. The more cattle enrolled, the better control the feedyard will have over group size. When less cattle are enrolled, there can be more weight variation in the pen. Pen closeout don't occur until the last calf is marketed. The 500 to 800 pound weight range was chosen to hopefully accommodate most situations where producers won't have to wait too long between the first and last animal is marketed. 

The feedyard is a northern environment. Cattle with more Brahman influence may perform well during summer feeding but since the program encompasses both winter and summer feeding, maintaining a modest level of maximum Brahman influence should accommodate both environments. 

Modified live will help establish a stronger immune response than a killed vaccine. Cattle will also receive a modified live booster at the feedyard. A good vaccination program is important since cattle will be fed a commingled lots with other cattle and the goal of the program is to measure production which is hindered when a steer or heifer becomes sick. 

Overfeeding cattle is a common mistake. Cattle that are over fed may get too heavy to participate. Cattle that are fleshy will have a poorer feed conversion and the feedyard can more likely put weight gain on cattle at a cheaper cost. Supplementing cattle at 0.5 to 1% body weight can keep them growing good while also making them accustomed to eating from a feed bunk. 

Electronic tags are needed for carcass data collection at the packing plant and are less prone to error than manual transfer of numbered tags. 

This fee helps cover E.I.D. tag cost and distribution as well as provided Grass to Grid program education for participants at the county level. The fee is non-refundable to cover commitment costs. 

The 'ownership' fee allows TCSCF leverage for working with lenders on operating loans. Otherwise, feed costs would have to be paid by participants on a regular basis instead of being deducted from calf dales at the end of the feeding period. 

There is inherent risk with feeding cattle. The TCSCF offers a risk management option that involves marketing cattle where they will most likely get the best value as opposed to marketing all cattle at 0.5'' backfat and using a grid based value system. 

Cattle are marketed according to cattle type as well as quality grade premiums and discounts. Feedyard managers will market through channels to try to achieve the greatest value for the calf at finishing. Cattle that are less likely to perform well in a grid-based marketing system (premiums and discounts for quality and yield grade) will be marketed for weight target endpoint. Cattle that are more likely to perform well in a grid-based system will be marketed as such. Carcasses will be graded and carcass data conveyed in both situations. Certain cattle may qualify for branded programs according to grade and phenotypic characteristics; however, cattle will not be managed as a group for specialty markets such as 'all natural', 'age and source verified', etc. 

  • Shipping Costs from Arkansas to the feedyard and from the feedyard to the packing plant are pro-rated among cattle based on size. 
  • Feedyard yardage and veterinary costs are charged to the individual animal.
  • Feed costs are determined at closeout (when all cattle have been marketed from a pen). Feed cost is pro-rated to individual animals using a formula that accounts for both animal size and rate of gain. 
  • Death loss is a loss to the individual owner. The costs associated with death loss will be affected by when the death loss occurred, and any expenses will have to be covered by the remaining cattle in the original owner lot. 

  • The feedyard will report periodic weight gain performance. Following closeout, a full report of weights, weight gain, days on feed,average daily gain, total cost of gain, feed cost of gain, morbidity, and mortality, total cost including shipping and processing costs will be reported as well as calf value and net return. 
  • The packing plant report will include hot carcass weight, dressing percentage, quality grade, yield grade, marbling score, ribeye area, backfat, and kph (kidney, pelvic, heart) fat. 

Feeding cattle has inherent risk. Risk may include death loss of a calf from disease or injury. Cattle that die will have feed and health costs that the margin from other cattle have to absorb. Any purchased insurance to offset economic losses associated with death loss is up to the individual calf owner and is not provided as a general risk management option through the Grass to Grid program. Cattle market volatility and feed price volatility can influence the cost and returns from feeding cattle. The Grass to Grid program does not provide financial risk protection; it is up the individual cattle owner to decide if and how they choose to manage market risk. A producer that enrolls a large group of cattle may consider services that provide CME futures and options while producers with just a few head of cattle may consider a livestock risk protection insurance policy. Participants are encouraged to monitor the current market and futures market prices to determine what impact market prices might have on breakeven cost. The TCSCF does look at calf type and market conditions to decide how to market calves to try and get the most value of that calf. This may include marketing calves before they get to 0.5'' backfat and marketing on the weight as opposed to carcass grid for cattle that may be discounted greatly on a carcass grid price valuation. Feed price is another source of risk. The cattle feeder will know current estimates of cost of gain but crop condition and other economic conditions can cause feed prices to either risk or fall. 
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