Strategic Marketing of Cull Cows Can Substantially Increase Income

SOUTH DAKOTA - State University Extension Beef Specialist, Cody Wright, recently presented some interesting data on managing and marketing cull cows at the 29th Annual Range Beef Cow Symposium.
calendar icon 12 September 2006
clock icon 2 minute read

 He noted that cull cow receipts account for a significant amount of income, generally accounting for 15 to 30% of income from the cow-calf enterprise. He went on to make the following points:

  • Slaughter cows fall into one of five grades: Commercial, Utility-Breaker, Utility-Boner, Cutter, and Canner in order of decreasing value. Mature cows (over 4 yrs. old) will fall into the bottom three grades. Younger cows are more likely to be in the top two grades.
  • Cull cow prices are very seasonal. Following are approximate averages by month at the Sioux Falls market for 2000-2003 (expressed as a % of annual avg.): Jan., 92; Feb, 96; Mar, 100; Apr., 103; May, 106; June, 107; July, 103; Aug., 102; Sept., 102; Oct., 98; Nov, 96; Dec., 95. As indicated, prices tend to peak in May-June and bottom out in January.
  • Increasing grade and delaying marketing for a period of time offers producers a substantial opportunity to add value to cull cows and increase revenue. The following table illustrates several scenarios and the associated increases in price received by increasing grade from Cutter to Utility-Boner and marketing at a more favorable time.


    Table 1. Market Price Change Associated With Upgrading Cows from Cutter to Utility-Boner at Sioux Falls, SD, 2000-2003
    Feeding period $/cwt change % change
    Sept. to Dec. 0.54 1.3
    Sept. to Jan. - 0.71 -1.8
    Oct. to Jan. 0.95 2.4
    Oct. to Feb. 2.59 6.7
    Nov. to Feb. 2.35 6.0
    Nov. to Mar. 4.03 10.3
    Dec. to Mar. 4.87 12.7
    Dec. to Apr. 6.30 16.5
    Jan. to Apr. 6.78 18.0
    Jan. to May 7.73. 20.5
    Feb. to May 6.05 13.3
    Feb. to June 6.20 15.7
    Mar. to June 4.86 11.9
    Mar. to July 3.98 9.8

    As shown above, the greatest changes were in scenarios where cows were fed from mid-winter months, Dec. and Jan., through early-spring, Apr. and May (Wright, C. 2005. Proc., The Range Beef Cow Symp. XIX, Rapid City, SD).

    TheCattleSite news desk

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