Signup to receive email updates

or follow our RSS feed

follow our RSS feed

Blog Banner

The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies
cows in the backseat

Management in a Drought: Part 5

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 – Highest conditioned cows (BCS 7 or greater)
  • Boners- Moderate condition (BCS 5, 6, and 7)
  • Leans- Light condition (BCS 1-4)
  • Lights- Light condition, light weight, or low dressing

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:

  • Open/Not pregnant
  • Problem cows:
    • Lameness
    • Cancer eye/blindness
    • Udder/teat problems
    • Disposition
  • Age
  • Poor performance

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.

Please share this article with your friends!
Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter Pin on Pinterest


Email will not display publicly, it is used only for validating comment