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Calf Value Discovery Program

Demonstrating the Value of South Dakota’s Feeder Calves

Group of mixed calves in a feedlot.

The Calf Value Discovery Program enables cow-calf producers to do the following:

  • Assess the value of their cattle in value-based marketing systems.
  • Gain valuable carcass and feedlot performance information to aid in management decisions and improve profitability.

How the Programs Works

Producers consign minimum of five 500–800-pound steers to the CVD Program Cattle will be fed in an accelerated finishing program at Vander Wal Yards, Bruce, S.D. A location in western South Dakota will be designated as a West River collection point for interested producers. The Calf Value Discovery Program will provide transportation from the West River collection point to Vander Wal Yards.

Cattle will be weighed periodically by SDSU personnel, and cattle owners will be sent performance updates and copies of their individual feed bills. Feed, yardage and veterinary bills will be financed, and any death loss will be shared among all participants in the project.

Cattle will be sold in market groups as they are deemed to have approximately 0.4 inches of backfat by visual appraisal. Generally, the first group is sold in mid-May. All cattle will be sold on a grid price system.

Pre-shipping Management

The cattle MUST be dehorned, castrated and healed prior to feedlot arrival. Cattle that must be dehorned or castrated at the feedlot will be so processed at the owner’s expense. Consult with your veterinarian on the vaccination program that is best for your cattle.

It is encouraged that calves arrive at the facility with sufficient vaccination against important disease issues. 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 2 doses of a killed 5-way; or
    • At least 1 dose of a MLV 5-way
  • Mannheimia haemolytica vaccine: 1 dose
  • 7-way Clostridial vaccine: 2 doses

NOTE: Calves do not need to be weaned or pre-conditioned to participate; however, we do ask that you let us know if the calves will be weaned or not prior to arrival.

IMPORTANT: We reserve the right to refuse any steers that are outside the weight range or that have not been dehorned, castrated, and healed.

Data Provided

  • Feedlot performance
  • Carcass data


To register, please contact Julie Walker or Warren Rusche at the phone numbers listed below.

Calf Value Discovery
Department of Animal Science
South Dakota State University
Box 2170
Brookings, SD 57007


  • Julie Walker, Professor & SDSU Extension Beef Specialist, 605-688-5458
  • Warren Rusche, SDSU Extension Beef Feedlot Management Associate, 605-688-5452