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Beef Producers: Could You Be Getting More For Your Cull Cows?

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
November 5, 2014        
Source:  Emily Wilmes, Extension Educator-Livestock
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties

Beef Producers: Could You Be Getting More For Your Cull Cows?
By Emily Wilmes, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (11/05/14) — All beef producers with cow/calf operations know the importance of their cull cows.  Cull cow receipts account for 15-30% of income from the cow-calf enterprise, according to Cody Wright, South Dakota State University Extension beef specialist.   Because of the impact cull cows have on the operation’s bottom line, there are some crucial details to pay attention to when it comes to marketing them. 

There is price seasonality associated with cull cow prices.  A producer can expect the best price during March, April, and May and the lowest prices during November, December, and January.  The prices are lowest during this time due to the market being flooded with open cows after preg-checking the herd.  There are strategies producers can use to market their cull cows outside of this low-price period. 

Producers may find it profitable to hold on to their cull cows, and feed them over the winter months to be sold during the high-price spring months.  Not only does the marketing delay help, but this also gives the cows an opportunity to put on more weight.  This can help improve dressing percent as well as quality grade.  Feeding your cull cows a high energy diet or as few as 50 days can have a significant impact on these.

Two factors to consider when thinking about holding onto your cull cows are cost and space.  While the aforementioned strategy may be the most profitable, it may not be the most practical.  To decrease the costs and keep cull cows out of the way, also consider having the cows graze crop residues.  This is a much cheaper way to add weight prior to marketing. 

Another option to consider is implanting your cows.  There are many options and a lot of pros and cons, so it’s best to do your research--this is an important part of any strategy you may use.  Each year, there are different conditions to consider, so be sure to pencil out your plan before implementing it. 

Your operation can benefit from strategic marketing of your cull cows, so be sure to give it some thought as we head towards preg-checking time.  If you have any questions about this topic, contact Emily Wilmes at the Stearns County Extension Office at 320-255-6169, Benton County Extension Office at 320-968-5077, or the Morrison County Extension Office at 320-632-0161.


Emily Wilmes
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems - Livestock
(320) 255-6169
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