The University of Arizona

Cull cow management and its implications for cow-calf profitability.

R.D. Little, A.R. Williams, R.C. Lacy, C.S. Forrest


Selling culled breeding livestock is often viewed as "just another chore." Most cull sales are made in the fall, after calves are weaned and cows are pregnancy checked and open. Since cull cow sales comprise from 15 to 30% of a cow-calf enterprise's gross revenue, perhaps they should be viewed as a potential profit center. This paper uses enterprise budgets and sensitivity analyses to illustrate cull cow management strategies that overcome certain physical and economic factors that limit the profitability of fall cow sales. The key limiting physical factor is often poor body condition, which results from the combined effect of lactation and deteriorating forage quality. The key economic factor is a seasonal price low, generated by a large beef supply in the fall. The results suggest potential, with adequate, low-cost feedstuffs, to increase net returns by properly managing cull breeding stock. In only 1 year during the 10-year period, 1990-1999, was selling cull cows in the fall the more profitable option. Over that time period, the net present value of spring cull sales averaged about $30 per cow more than selling cull cows in the fall.



Mississippi;selling prices;culling;body condition;production costs;beef cows;profitability;finishing;seasonal variation

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