Sorting Cattle with Accumulated Data: What is the Accuracy and Economics

Increasingly feedlots are managing cattle as individual animals rather than on a pen level basis. As such it is possible to predict an optimal marketing date for each animal. This analysis evaluates the keep-or-sell decision at reimplant time for feedlots cattle approximately 80 days prior to the expected marketing date for the entire group. A model predicting the least profitable cattle in the pen was developed using individual animal data representing over 14,000 cattle fed in 12 Iowa feedlots. It was tested out of sample on an additional 5,000 head to determine the optimal cull rate at reimplant time. The expected profit of sorting and reselling the least profitable cattle was calculated for two different levels of imperfect information and were contrasted against each other as well expost profit. The analysis concludes that there is a potential advantage of predicting the least profitable animals in a pen and re-sell them as heavyfeeder-cattle. It also shows that individual animal identification and management provides additional information and accuracy to apply this practice.

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2005 Conference, St. Louis, MO, April 18-19, 2005

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