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Culling Questions

Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 3:58 pm
by BC Acres
I have a couple of questions regarding culling. I run a terminal operation so I'm not really looking to retain anything. What are your thoughts on the following?

1. If you are going to cull a cow, when is the best time to do it so you make the most money back? Should you sell as a cow calf pair, after weaning to sell the calf and momma separate, after breeding back and sell as a bred cow (if so is it better as a heavy bred), or other that I'm not thinking of.

2. Is it better to keep a momma that breeds early and raises some of your bigger calves but has some conformity issues so you know she may only be good for a few years (bad back feet), or a momma from a breeder that is structurally your best cow and could probably produce for a long time, but so far she has been the last to calve each of her first two calves. This year she was 60 days behind the first calf in a small herd of 5 mommas. Her calf is quite a bit smaller than the rest which are very uniform. Should I cut her some slack since sometimes they struggle to breed back after their first calf?


3. As a terminal operation, should I cull at the first sign of bad feet / bag or wait and get as many calves out of a momma as possible and cull when feet/bag/etc. get extreme?

Re: Culling Questions

Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 4:10 pm
by Nesikep
It's really hard to say! I have some cows that have struggled to breed back on time, but despite having later calves, you really can hardly tell in the fall..
For you being a terminal operation really changes things too.. bad feet and udders that are still functional matter little to you, so in the end, if you're willing to spend an hour when she calves to help the calf latch on, that's up to you.
What time of year to sell them? A lot of that will depend on your feed costs to bring them through a winter.. Yes, heavy breds are probably going to get a bit of a premium for spring calvers, but it's probably not worth the cost to bring them through the winter.. Is there a time of year where you would typically like to get some extra cash flow? such as springtime for seed costs?

Yeah, I know, I probably asked more questions than you did!

Re: Culling Questions

Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 4:47 pm
by Rafter S
1. This would probably depend on why you're culling her. If she has a problem that's not readily apparent but affects her as a breeder, such as a history of prolapse, I couldn't in good conscience sell her as a bred cow. Sell the calf, maybe let her put on some weight, then sell her for slaughter. On the other hand, if it's something less serious, I'd sell her as a bred cow.

2. No opinion.

3. Somewhere in the middle. I wouldn't cull at the first sign of a problem, but I would try to sell before the problem (whatever it is) gets bad. If you let them get too bad it can easily negatively affect their value, even if they're going to slaughter.

Re: Culling Questions

Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 5:01 pm
by BC Acres
There are no reproductive issues like prolapse so far in my herd. The one I'm considering has questionable feet. Her rear claws are getting very long. She isn't limping or anything at this point. She always is an early calver, raises nice sized calves, and has a good disposition. I just wonder how long she can go with those feet.

I'm also a small operation (5 mommas). My pasture is stretched pretty thin so I was thinking about getting rid of a momma or two. Otherwise, I may just have to feed hay most of the year, especially if I add a bull. Maybe I shouldn't worry about it and try to get a few years out of her the and just feed hay most of the year.

Why does it seem like just when you think you have figured out a few answers, more questions pop up? Lol. Maybe I'm just not smart enough to figure it out. That's probably the case. Haha.

Re: Culling Questions

Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 5:10 pm
by bird dog
Sell the late calving cow as a bred. To me if they are late two years in a row, nothing will change. As far as everything else, to me the difference in a good slaughter cow and a bad slaughter cow is not enough to worry about. If she can get around okay, raises a good calf and hold her weight, I see no reason to rush her to the packers.

I'm not trying to impress anybody with my herd so as a result I have quite a few old girls, some limpers and one with cancer eye. I also calved out at a 92% rate this year. Nothing wrong with a $800 cow that is raising a $700 calf.

Re: Culling Questions

Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 5:18 pm
by Son of Butch
As a terminal operation, lifetime pounds weaned is the goal.

An aged bred cow with obvious confirmation problems i.e bad feet will only bring a little over slaughter price.
If you don't want her certainly any looking to keep replacements won't want her either.
You know she breeds back on time and raises a good calf and still has a few more calves in her.
Plan on keeping her for a couple more calves and sell her for slaughter at weaning in a couple of years.

A good looking cow with a history of minor fertility problems and average calves is another story.
I would put her in the ring with her 4-7 week old calf at her side, someone may want to keep the calf as a replacement
and she's ready to go in with the bull... seems everyone thinks their bull will git 'er done.
I wouldn't risk cutting her too much slack... seems I always get burned when I do.

IF you are positive she'll breed back then you could put her in the ring after weaning as a short bred, so you don't have to carry her for the winter.

Re: Culling Questions

Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:32 pm
by BC Acres
Thanks guys. I appreciate the responses. I always enjoy hearing opinions from others. I'm old enough to know that others probably know more than me.

Re: Culling Questions

Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:40 pm
by True Grit Farms
I try and sell all my cull cows heavy bred, someone is always willing to give her another chance.

Re: Culling Questions

Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:51 pm
by cow pollinater
As terminal operation the only job is to get bred as fast as she can and raise a big calf. The cow with fertility problems is not getting that done. Figure how much weight that calf can gain in a twenty-one day cycle and multiply by the current price for the class of cattle you're selling and you'll get an estimate of how much money you're missing out on by keeping her. Don't try to hard to maximize profit on her, just get her gone as soon as you can do it without taking to big of a hit. If you can sell her as a bred cow or pair you can replace her with another old bred cow that can do what you want for one bid over kill price and pocket the difference.

Re: Culling Questions

Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:55 pm
by Brute 23
BC Acres wrote:I have a couple of questions regarding culling. I run a terminal operation so I'm not really looking to retain anything. What are your thoughts on the following?

1. If you are going to cull a cow, when is the best time to do it so you make the most money back? Should you sell as a cow calf pair, after weaning to sell the calf and momma separate, after breeding back and sell as a bred cow (if so is it better as a heavy bred), or other that I'm not thinking of.

2. Is it better to keep a momma that breeds early and raises some of your bigger calves but has some conformity issues so you know she may only be good for a few years (bad back feet), or a momma from a breeder that is structurally your best cow and could probably produce for a long time, but so far she has been the last to calve each of her first two calves. This year she was 60 days behind the first calf in a small herd of 5 mommas. Her calf is quite a bit smaller than the rest which are very uniform. Should I cut her some slack since sometimes they struggle to breed back after their first calf?


3. As a terminal operation, should I cull at the first sign of bad feet / bag or wait and get as many calves out of a momma as possible and cull when feet/bag/etc. get extreme?


1. Depends on the market and how soon she needs to be gotten rid of. If at all possible I like to let the have a calf or two then them sell them as heavy bred. That usually gets my money back.

2. Neither, it not a choice of one or the other. They need to breed back and be structurally sound.

3. Every time I have waited it has bit me in the butt. I don't like letting things linger. I won't lose money getting ancy but I'm not going to run things out longer trying to squeek out a dime.

There are a lot of variables. It's not just cut and dry.

Re: Culling Questions

Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:24 pm
by Stocker Steve
Brute 23 wrote: There are a lot of variables. It's not just cut and dry.


Lots of variables, but just two metrics:

1) calf # or calf#/cow # at weaning date (don't much are about calving date)
2) what can she deliver next year (which is a projection, seems like slow movers and thins are poor risks here, I think if you cull yearly for weanling wt. - - then you will not have many slow thin cows to worry about.)


Cow prices are very situational. Here the best selling option is usually light bred on a Saturday right after the calf run.

Re: Culling Questions

Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:58 pm
by BC Acres
Son of Butch wrote:I would put her in the ring with her 4-7 week old calf at her side, someone may want to keep the calf as a replacement



The late calver has a bull calf that has been banded. I've never bought pairs. Do pairs that have bull calves do worse or does it not really matter?

Re: Culling Questions

Posted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:08 am
by BC Acres
cow pollinater wrote:Don't try to hard to maximize profit on her, just get her gone as soon as you can do it without taking to big of a hit.


The late calver was bought back when prices were high. I've heard it takes 3 calves before they start to turn a little profit. She's on calf two. Next year would be three. Do you think it is better to go ahead and breed her once more and then sell as a pair next season, sell as heavy bred next year, or sell now as a pair. Calf is almost 4 weeks old.

Re: Culling Questions

Posted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:11 am
by Son of Butch
Bull calf, steer calf, it doesn't really matter.
Put them in the ring as a cow/calf pair and let the auctioneer decide how best to sell them.
I've seen auctioneers split baby calves off and makes the calf buyer bid on the cow too just to keep them together.
I've seen them bring more that way than selling as cow/calf pair. But usually they sell as pairs.
Just let the auctioneer decide how he wants to do it... they usually know how to get the most for 'em.

As Steve said, around here Saturdays worst day for buying (too many bidders) but best day for selling.