Weigh Crates Increase Profits

UK - Using a weigh crate will allow beef producers to accurately measure their costs against output, says the National Beef Association.
calendar icon 19 October 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

The National Beef Association (NBA) believes that only 30-40 per cent of beef farms have one on the premises and wants to encourage more specialists to make the investment.

“This applies to both feeders and breeders. It is impossible to establish business efficiency without weighing every prime animal that leaves the farm and checking the result against the expense of bringing it to sale condition,” explained Association director, Kim Haywood.

She believes that finishers who weigh feeding cattle regularly, even when at grass, can immediately tell if they are performing as expected or whether they have hit an unseen check and will not be able to hit slaughter weight as quickly as expected.

Ms Haywood said: “Many farmers who weighed their cattle throughout the summer discovered, for the very first time, they had liver fluke problems and were able to limit the damage by taking appropriate action quickly.”

She said that a growing number of very successful feeders, especially those with bulls, draw animals for slaughter as soon as feed conversion slips below a pre-set level and signals that offering more, expensive, inputs will be a waste of time.

Breeders can also benefit by weighing both cows and calves at weaning, says the NBA. This helps them identify which cows produce the most profitable calves because lighter cows have lower maintenance costs and a relatively light cow that produces a heavy calf is a winner.

“It also helps to know the exact weight of the calves if they are sold privately to a finisher and finishers who have still to buy a weigh crate will find it opens up a huge number of previously inaccessible, important, management calculations,” said Ms Haywood.

Among these is the killing out percentage for slaughter cattle sold deadweight. The NBA’s advice to all finishers is to weigh their cattle just before they leave the farm and then calculate both the killing out percentage, and the price per kilo, after they have banked the abattoir cheque.

Ms Haywood stressed that this was the only accurate way of comparing dressing out practice, and offtakes, at different abattoirs and establishing exactly which company pays the most money for the type of cattle the farm regularly produces.

Many feeders who have checked out their income this way have immediately diverted more of their cattle to an abattoir that unexpectedly proves to be their best payer and no longer despatch as many to the company they mistakenly thought was doing most to lift their income.


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