BEEF In the production of baby beef, great care must be taken with the feeds; they must be fresh and palatable at every feeding and must be presented in such a way that the animals will eat the largest possible quantities. It is commonly recommended that the feed ing periods be absolutely regular, that water and salt be supplied at all times and in general that the grain be mixed with the hay or silage.
According to statistics collected by Mumford from Illinois beef raisers, the spring is chosen as the season for the calves to come, by four-fifths of the cor respondents of the Illinois experiment station ; the other fifth of the beef ers are divided in their preferences be tween summer, winter and fall. Among the same men four-fifths practiced cas tration on bull calves under three months of age and only 5 per cent post poned the operation later than six months. In the large number of beef raisers, among whom the statistics in question were collected, less than one half raised calves for the production of baby beef, the average age of cattle when marketed being 26 months and the average weight 1,275 pounds. While on some markets baby beef means well fattened beef animals about one year of age, the term is frequently extended to include all finished cattle between one and two years old.
Among Illinois beef raisers, the length of the suckling period for calves intended for the production of baby beef varies from one week to 10 months, with an average of five months and 24 days. The suckling period for calves not intended for baby beef ranges from five to seven months, six months being preferred by 40 per cent of the beef producers.
Interesting statistics were also col lected among prominent beef raisers with regard to the grain feeds which they used in feeding for baby beef. Among these grains, corn constitutes about one-half, oats one-third, followed by bran, linseed meal, a mixture of corn and oatmeal, barley, cottonseed meal, gluten meal, wheat and rye in order.
The production of baby beef is not confined to the corn belt, but is much in favor in various other parts of the country. Thus, in Idaho, French has found that it is possible to raise calves profitably on skini milk by replacing the cream with whole oats; when calves are fed on this ration, they seem to make better use of rough feed later than do calves which have been raised on whole milk. The important point is also mentioned by French that early matu rity is not hindered by this method of feeding. With regard to the economy of the practice, it appears that in Utah the value of the cream saved is more than four times that of the oats con sumed in replacing the cream.
In a series of feeding tests in Idaho, it was found that steers raised in the manner just described gained 2 pounds per day for a period of 128 days on coarse feeds alone. Baby beef produced on skim milk, oats, alfalfa hay and pas ture dressed about 60 per cent of the live weight and the meat was well marbled and pronounced of prime qual ity when examined by the butcher. The steers produced an average profit of $18 a head over the cost of feeding and care.
French calls attention to the impor tance of teaching calves to eat hay at as early an age as possible. The hay should be provided in self-feeding racks, so that they can obtain it at any time. "The calves, even those only five or six days old, soon learn to pick this tempt ing bit of hay instead of sucking each other's ears, as they are apt to do when fed in the ordinary w'hy." The question often occurs to the farmer who intends to force calves to a market maturity at an early age, whether it pays best to feed grain during the first winter, or coarse forage alone. In Nebraska, this matter was studied by Burnett and Smith. It was found in this experiment that it is more econom ical to feed a small grain ration, even if good gains can be obtained with hay alone.
In a further test of this matter, the same investigators used rations of pounds of mixed grain in the winter, with hay and pasture in summer for one lot of calves; a similar regimen with only 3 pounds of grain for a second lot, and no grain for a third lot of calves. The results from this experiment showed that the cost of producing meat in calves during winter is least when the grain ration is of considerable size. All indi cations pointed to the economy of feed ing grain during the winter. If the spring, about the time the milk is omitted from the ration. If this sys tem is adopted, there is little check in the regular growth of the calves. In some respects, however, this system is less convenient to operate on the farm than the ordinary, and what appears more natural, one of having the calves come at the usual spring season.
Feeding calves for dairy and stock purposes the above discussion of calf feeding, particular attention has been given to feeding calves which are intended for baby beef. A number of the calves produced on the farm, how whole year is taken into consideration and the system adopted in which no grain is fed while the animals are on pasture, it appears that a grain ration one-third of the full size is most eco nomical.