Page Title

Backgrounding Cattle

cattle feeding at a hay troft
Photo Credit:

Backgrounding cattle is a management and feeding program in which cattle are fed for a period of time after weaning and before they are placed in finishing feedlots. Backgrounding calves are similar to stocker cattle except in the northern tier states, where snow covers the ground in the winter and cattle are fed a forage-based ration instead of being sent to “stocker” grazing.

Backgrounding does several things. It provides time for calves to get through the stress of weaning and develop immunity through vaccines recently administered. Backgrounding adapts calves to a feeding bunk and totally mixed rations that may include grains, silages, distillers grains and hays. Backgrounding also delays marketing of calves for 35, 90 or more days after weaning.

Backgrounding Cattle 2021 videos

Cattle producers that planned to sell at weaning or were forced to sell due to drought have already sold.  There are other producers that are now bringing calves home, weaning, vaccinating, and will be feeding for a unknown period of time.  When calf prices are low, corn price is high, and future cattle prices are uncertain, more information is needed for good planning and budgeting. 

  • Bryon Parman – Calf Budgets for Fall 2021  - (Steer, heifer, low ADG, High ADG, breeding heifer development)
  • Gerry Stokka – Calf health issues for Fall 2021 
  • Tim Petry – Calf market outlook
  • Karl Hoppe – Feeds, alternative Feeds and Cost of gain
  • Zac Carlson – Rations for backgrounding (receiving and step up rations)
Calf Budgets for Fall 2021
Remote video URL
Calf Health Issues - Fall 2021
Remote video URL
Calf Market Outlook
Remote video URL
Zac Carlson – Rations for backgrounding (receiving and step up rations)
Remote video URL
Backgrounding Feeds and Rations 2021
Remote video URL

Sources and Prices for selected Co-products produced in North Dakota

As of March 21, 2021

Commentary –   spot Corn Prices, $ per bushel

7.08     Blue Flint Ethanol, Underwood
6.88      Red Trail Energy, Richardton
7.14      Tharaldson Ethanol, Casselton  
7.18      Hankinson Renewable Energy, Hankinson/ Guardian Energy
6.98     Dakota Spirit AgEnergy, Spiritwood

Corn price has dramatically increased since last September. Co-products prices have followed the corn price increase.  Hay prices have also increased due to corn price increase and local demand due to reduced production due to drought.

Dr. Karl Hoppe
Area Extension Livestock Specialist
NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center

Coproduct Feeds 2021