BROOKINGS — The South Dakota State University (SDSU) Calf Value Discovery Program will accept steers at two delivery times this year due to dry conditions. The early delivery date is set for Oct. 5, while the regularly scheduled time will be Nov. 3 and 4. For the Oct. 5 delivery date to occur, a minimum of 60 head must be registered due to pen size.

Established in 1990, the Calf Value Discovery Program provides cow/calf producers with the value of their cattle through value-based marketing systems, along with carcass and feedlot performance data that will aid in management decisions that impact the financial bottom line.

“Post-weaning performance influences the price received when calves are marketed at or near weaning,” says Julie Walker, Professor and SDSU Extension Beef Specialist. “Obtaining post-weaning animal and carcass performance data provides producers with additional information to make the best financial and management decisions for their operations.”

The program allows producers to consign a minimum of five steer calves. The minimum weight of steers consigned in October is 425 pounds, while November consigned steers should weigh 500 to 800 pounds. October steers will be backgrounded until November steers are delivered.

Cattle will be fed in an accelerated finishing program at Vander Wal Yards located near Bruce, South Dakota, where SDSU personnel will weigh cattle periodically and send performance updates to their owners. Feed, yardage and veterinary bills will be financed, and any death loss will be shared with participants.

Interested participants in the western region of the state are welcome to drop off cattle at the Cottonwood Research Station, located near Philip, South Dakota, for cattle to be delivered to Vander Wal Yards. More information on drop-off dates can be found below.

According to Walker, cattle will be sold in truckload lots beginning on or around May 15, 2022. All cattle will be sold on a grid price system.

“We encourage producers to have calves arrive at the facility with sufficient vaccination against important disease issues,” Walker says. “The timing and success of vaccinating calves at arrival is less than optimal.”

Sufficient vaccination is considered as:

•  5-way viral (BVD-1, BVD-2, IBR, BRSV, PI3) vaccine

•  At least two doses of a killed 5-way; or

•  At least one dose of a MLV 5-way

•  Mannheimia haemolytica vaccine: one dose

•  7-way clostridial vaccine: two doses

Cattle must also arrive dehorned, castrated and healed.

Registration for the October delivery closes Sept. 20 and November delivery ends Oct. 15. Delivery of steers to the Cottonwood Research Station (October vs. November) will depend on the preference of the majority of producers planning to deliver to Cottonwood. Cattle will only be received at the Cottonwood Research Station on one day between 8 a.m. and noon MT. Steers can be delivered directly to Vander Wal Yards on either Tuesday, Oct. 5 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, Nov. 3 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or Thursday, Nov. 4 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Calves delivered to the Cottonwood drop-off location must be brand inspected prior to arriving, as there will not be a brand inspector present at that location.

For more information, go to the Calf Value Discovery Program page. ( If you have any additional questions or would like to register, contact Walker at or 605-688-5458, SDSU Extension Beef Feedlot Management Associate Warren Rusche at or 605-688-5452, or SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist Kiernan Brandt at or 605-882-5140.

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