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Abstract

The impact of beginning body condition scores on returns from feeding cull cows was investigated in a two year experiment. In each of two culling years, physical performance data and financial data were measured at approximately monthly intervals for culls on pasture versus dry lot. Specifically, data was collected for cows culled in October 2007 and held through April 2008 and for cows culled in October 2008 and held through March 2009. We examine the sensitivity of net returns relative to the choice of body condition score as a sorting trigger for heavy versus thin cows. In this two year study, while a pasture system was generally more profitable than a drylot system, thin cows were typically more profitable than cows with higher BCS, regardless of the feeding system. The importance of the sorting criteria is highlighted in year two. Using the lower BCS criteria for sorting is the only scenario that generates positive net returns, albeit small. Thus, decisions regarding cull cow retention and feeding should consider body condition scores.

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