Stockers are calves and yearlings, both steers and heifers, that are intended for eventual finishing and slaughtering and which are being fed and cared for in such manner that growth rather than finishing will be realized. They are generally younger and thinner than feeder cattle.
Today, the stocker stage is changing as a result of two forces working in opposite directions, with one force favoring lengthening of the stocker state and the other favoring shortening it.
1. Scarce and high-priced grains favor more roughages feeding and less grain feeding, resulting in carrying stockers to older ages and heavier weights, followed by a shorter feedlot period.
2. Heavier milking cows and heavier weaning weights, coupled with high priced land, favor shortening the stocker stage, or even eliminating it, as 600 pound or heavier weaning weights are achieved.
In the future, both types of stocker operations will prevail, with the choice determined primarily by the price of grain and the weaning of the calves.
In the southeastern states winter grazing is extensively used in stocker programs. This area is turning to stocker programs in order to utilize profitable winter pastures and to satisfy the demand for 600 to 800 pound feeder steers as a result of the expansion of feedlots.