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Disposition Pays

Data on nearly 50,000 feeders proves docility makes a difference

Nervous and aggressive cattle are a pain in the wallet.

Data collected on more than 68,000 cattle from 24 Iowa feedyards, shows that cattle that were considered docile graded Premium Choice and Prime at more than double the rate of their nervous to very aggressive contemporaries.

Considering all the costs,
docile calves netted more
than $57 above their
aggressive counterparts.

All cattle in the data set were consigned to the Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity* from 2002 to 2011. The research proves that docility in the feedyard pays off with better performance, improved carcass merit and reduced morbidity and treatment costs.

Using the six-point Beef Improvement Federation disposition scoring system, calves in the Futurity were scored three to four times during the feeding period. Based on their average scores, they were grouped into three categories: docile (DC), restless (R) and nervous to very aggressive (NVA).

Since aggressive cattle are always alert, they are harder to identify for treatment. That means fewer trips through the chute than needed, which results in higher death loss. They also had lower feedyard gain and efficiency, resulting in a $34.74/head feeding loss.

The bottom line: calm cattle pay.

Effect on disposition

*Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity data from 68,000 head on feed from 2002 to 2011. Read more here.