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Cull Unproductive Beef Cows Before Winter

Heavy cow harvest: Is herd liquidation nigh?
Now is a good time to consider thinning the herd, especially if you have open cows.

Is your herd on the natural culling cycle (i.e.,  animals dying  of old age)? Is that old beef cow a "hard keeper" over winter and you just cannot keep weight on her? What do you do with those cows still open after breeding season? 

Now is a good time to consider thinning the herd before winter, especially if you have open cows. With choice steer prices averaging $140-$159/cwt. in August, you might be tempted to keep that old open cow around to try for another round of breeding next year. That could be a mistake that hinders your herd in the future as there’s no guarantee of what steer prices will be next year. The space you allot to that open old cow could be used by a younger, more productive heifer or cow that calves on time and keeps money in your pocket by providing you with good replacement heifers or calves/steers to sell. 

A cull cow marketed in decent condition can bring in some money this year while helping cut feed costs.

Looking back a few years to 2009, prices for cattle were a lot less than they are today, both steer and cow prices. Those prices combined with increasing feed prices were not encouraging for growth of a cow herd or increasing animal numbers for beef production. Note that cull cow prices tend to follow the trends of steer prices, allowing you to predict, to a degree, when cow prices will be up. High beef prices this year give you the potential to capture some extra income, even with cull cows.

To read more about when to cull cows, click here.


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