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Summary

Conducted in Tifton and Calhoun, the HERD Programs allows producers to consign heifers for heifer development. The program was developed to serve and educate the beef industry in Georgia and to provide a method of evaluating heifers including performance, reproductive traits, and disposition. It is also a way to demonstrate the benefits of cooperative efforts involving cattle producers, animal health professionals, the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, the UGA Animal and Dairy Science Department, the UGA Diagnostic Lab and College of Veterinary Medicine, and Georgia County Extension Agents.

Situation

Situation Beef cattle account for $482,163,793 of farm gate value, making them the #5 agricultural commodity in the state of Georgia. The majority of Georgia cattle producers are cow-calf operations, which places emphasis on the reproductive abilities of the females within a herd to produce a calf crop. With variability in market prices, producers cannot afford to retain underperforming animals in their herd. Evaluating and improving the reproductive performance, timely weight achievement, and disposition of their females allows producers to be more efficient at getting calves on the ground and money in their pocket. Conducted in Tifton and Calhoun, the HERD Programs allows producers to consign heifers for heifer development. The program was developed to serve and educate the beef industry in Georgia and to provide a method of evaluating heifers including performance, reproductive traits, and disposition. It is also a way to demonstrate the benefits of cooperative efforts involving cattle producers, animal health professionals, the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, the UGA Animal and Dairy Science Department, the UGA Diagnostic Lab and College of Veterinary Medicine, and Georgia County Extension Agents. The HERD Program teaches consignors about herd and heifer development. In addition, the program offers a heifer sale at the end of the season, where consignors have the option to sell their heifers. This sale allows buyers to purchase heifers that have been evaluated for desired reproductive traits and are guaranteed bred on sale day. In order to qualify for the sale, heifers must meet a certain criterion, including a pelvic measurement of at least 140 sq. cm., a reproductive tract maturity score of at least 2, they must be bred, and they must be sound and easy to handle. The sale was to be held April 22nd, 2020. In March of 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to many livestock sales for a short time. The prices of beef cattle dropped considerably. Consigners with the UGA HERD Program were faced with a difficult decision. With current guidelines this sale was not going to happen. Consignors had to decide if they were going to take home the heifers they wished to sale, or send them to an auction house to get current market value for them.

Response

Extension’s Response County Extension Agents play many roles in this program, including voting on and setting rules and protocols at the annual meetings, providing physical labor on work days, and working the annual sale. However, for the year of 2020 that would look different. The UGA Beef Team collaborated with the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, HERD Committee Members, and Extension Agents on the South HERD Team to implement a virtual sale. This virtual sale would give consignors the opportunity to sell the heifers they did not wish to take home after completing the program. This also gave buyers from across the state the opportunity to participate in a sale they would not normally be able to attend. The sale would also lower many of the cost associated with an in-person sale, allowing more revenue for the consignors. A video of each heifer was recorded and distributed to the public prior to the sale. A mock sale was held to ensure things would run smoothly on the day of the sale. On sale day, agents were present in the zoom meeting to help with the moderating of the sale.

Impact

Results Prices were compared to market value averages of the of Georgia state livestock sales that occurred the week of the virtual sale. Average market value for bred cows in the first trimester was $840 per head the week of the sale. Average market value for second trimester bred cows was $864 per head. The highest bid of the sale was $3,000 with $1200 being the lowest. With an average selling price of $1,722, consignors made on average of $858-$882 more per head than market value. That is almost a $50,000 increase in selling price for the 58 heifers. Not only did the virtual sale increase revenue for the consignors, it allowed more buyers to participate. One buyer in particular made the comment at pick-up that he had always wanted to buy from the Tifton herd sale but was never able to attend.

State Issue

Animal Production

Details

  • Year: 2020
  • Geographic Scope: State
  • County: Irwin
  • Location: Coastal Plain Station, Tifton
  • Program Areas:
    • Agriculture & Natural Resources

Author

  • Anderson, Holly C Hickey

Collaborator(s)

CAES Collaborator(s)

  • Burch, Katherine Claxton
  • Carter, Andy Ed
  • Cheely, Tammy W.
  • Dowdy, Michasia
  • Hand, Justin Thomas
  • Hayes, Brian W
  • Post, Kimberly L
  • Powell, Steven
  • Rehberg, Deron M.
  • Shealey, Justin S.
  • Tanner, James Rocky
  • Tanner, Savannah Amelia
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Extension Impact