June 20, 2012
Sometimes it is hard getting those old cows to town... go ahead the picture is supposed to make you smile. Culling cows is a part of every cattle operation and in most herds culling occurs every year. Sometimes we hate to part with cows, but in a drought situation culling cows can asure we still have adequate feed resources for the younger, more productive cows.
It just so happens that we have seen record high prices for cull cows. Cull cows have been bringing $90/cwt. consistently in salebarns across the Midwest. In times of drought, there is no reason to keep cull cows around any longer than necessary. It is important to understand how cull cows are sorted at the salebarn to maximize value of the cows that are culled.
The scores of cull cows that the USDA reports on are:
Breakers and Boners are higher priced than Leans and Lights. It is important to make culling decisions early in a drought to avoid marketing thin cull cows that end up in Leans and Lights categories. These cows are lighter weight and lower priced... both losses of money.
Criteria for culling cows in order of priority:
Although culling is not something most producers look forward to, it accounts for 15%-20% of a cow-calf producer's income. In a drought, it is an important strategy to making the most of what you have. Don't let poor/late culling sort you into the red ink.