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New Mexico State University

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New Mexico Ranch-to-Rail Program Nominations Due Oct. 14

CLAYTON - Manny Encinias is looking for a few good cattle growers who want to learn a lot more about their cattle.

The New Mexico Ranch-to-Rail Program is seeking cattle for this year's series of performance trials. Reports from experts allow the state's producers to assess their current breeding and management. (09/09/2005) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by Clay Mathis)

Encinias, livestock specialist at New Mexico State University's Clayton Livestock Research Center, needs producers to enroll their steers in the New Mexico Ranch-to-Rail Program, the state's annual performance test.

Simply put, the Ranch-to-Rail program provides a mechanism for cattle producers to performance test their steers in a feedlot setting, allowing them to get carcass data and a breakeven analysis on each tested calf, he said.

Ranch-to-Rail begins its sixth year of providing feedback to beef producers this fall. The deadline to enroll is Oct. 14.

There is no fee to enroll cattle in the program, Encinias said. Producers retain full ownership of their cattle throughout the test.

"This program helps producers learn how their steers perform beyond the ranch gate," Encinias said. "Data pulled from the studies will allow producers to determine whether or not they're on target. If they aren't, they may need to consider altering the genetics of their herd or possibly modifying their management system."

During the test, the marketing date for individual calves is determined by weight and ultrasound measurements. The goal is to increase profits, he said.

Following the test, all calves will be sold on a carcass basis with premiums and discounts for quality grade, yield grade and carcass weight.

Ranch-to-Rail cattle will be fed at Double A Feeders, a commercial feedlot near Clayton. The deadline for cattle delivery is Nov. 9. Ranchers may deliver their own cattle to the feedyard, or combine truckloads with other consignors. Further information about arranging delivery is available from Ranch-to-Rail officials.

Each producer must enter a minimum of five cattle to participate, but may enter as many as 50 head, Encinias said. Steers need to weigh 450 to 850 pounds.

There are no weaning or preconditioning requirements; however, it's strongly recommended that all steers entering the program be vaccinated under Value Added Calf (VAC) management programs, he said.

Further information on the program and nomination forms are available from Encinias at (505) 374-2566 or mencinia@nmsu.edu.