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Advisor

heifer retention

I'm not much of a cattleman and haven't paid a lot of attention to recent reports.

 

But was just wondering, has the beef industry gotten into a place where retaining heifers is so costly that the herd will never be rebuilt?

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Honored Advisor

Re: heifer retention

I can`t speak for out west where they have drought and herds of thousands.  In the midwest there are alot of small herds that are raised as a glorified 4-H project for mostly nostalgia.  Bred heifers and cows are hot property, there is alot of buyers for each one.  With the high prices, there are "creative' things happening, like buying broken mouth cows that ordinarily would go for cull and getting "one more breeding".   They have to be fed ground up "baby food" and maybe 5 of those cows save 3 calves between them ....but hey, each stew meat cow raises 3/5ths of a calf.   That is something that will add to the supply, that wouldn`t if cattle prices were lower.

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Veteran Advisor

Re: heifer retention

Don't forget age factor as going to our salebarn it looks like the senoir citizen meeting and  $400 / unit pasture rent with putting that much rent up front doesn't make it a trip to the lender less than interesting --- stabelizing the herd at today's numbers might be a realistic endeavor ---   

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Senior Contributor

Re: heifer retention

I was thinking about that, as a cow/calf guy, and I think that the cattle numbers will tend to stabilize around what the grassland will safely carry.   There are a LOT of guys who had to 'panic sell' some cattle wen the drought hit.     There is not a whole lot that is less sobering, than seeing the look on a rancher's face, who had to sell some cows, that he paid $2500 for a year and a half before, struggle to bring a $1200-$1300 bid.  The only saving grace, was the calf he raised out of her was worth about $1100.

As of right now, I think there is enough heifer retention around here, to keep numbers stable to what the grass will carry.  I don't see people keeping cows until they croak of old age, just to sell one more calf out of them.

My reason why:
A week or two ago, I sold an older, but healthy open (unbred) cow, for $1200.   Our better heifers, brought $1250, the next cut, $1150.

Doing the math, since neither one was going to wean a calf again until next year, it made great financial sense, to sell the cow, and keep back another heifer, and have a younger cow herd.   As long as one keeps up on the culling, so that he doesn't wind up having too many 'canners', there really is no reason not to sell some 'undesirable' cows, and keep heifers.

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Senior Advisor

Re: heifer retention

Husker, not trying to contradict your last comment since it does make good sense, but I've got a neighbor who has made a very attractive profit by doing just the opposite of what you just stated.  He attends several cattle auctions weekly to buy broken mouth cows that are bred and due to calve within 6-8 weeks.  After calving, he turns around and resells the cow as open and retains the calf to sell as a newborn to other local cattlemen, or if they don't sell he places them on a feed ration and eventually sells them as yearlings.

 

I'm planning on restarting my cow herd later this year on a small scale and am considering the purchase of a few broken mouth cows to get enough additional calves to have around a 150% first year calf crop to offset my initial investment.

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Senior Contributor

Re: heifer retention

There are guys that do that here, as well.

Think about what the guy you talked about is doing:  He is taking cows that ranchers feel have outlived their life, and with a little TLC, is getting one more calf out of them, instead of having them ground into Whoppers.

This, is adding a bit to the total calf crop, as well.

 

The broken mouth cow thing, can work out to be a cheap way to start a cattle herd, keeping back some of the heifer calves.   However, realize that the cows will require TLC, and you don't want to have too large a group of them together, or the ones on the bottom of the totem pole, will go downhill.

I shut a couple of old 'granny gummers', to get the calves out of them.   For the most part, they brought about the same as they would have, had I sold them bred, to someone like your neighbor, and as a bonus I averaged $400 for the baby calves.   Not a bad return, for maybe $50-$100  per cow of 'extra' feed expense (give them a bit of cracked corn, grind their hay, & protein licks go a LONG way to keeping them in condition).  A person just needs a special place to keep them, and time to give them extra attention, which is hard for many cattlemen to do, in the middle of calving out the rest of their herd.

 

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Senior Contributor

Re: heifer retention

I have a couple of cows that bred back late last year, so I keep them,,, been feeding them DDGS and soy hull pellets,  not cheap, but cows aren't either.   

 

I have keep cows that I should not have a babied them, most of the time I didn't breed them back, let them raise the calf and then sold them as open culls,   I try and hit either the Memorial day market, or the 4th of July market, ALWAYS sell before september it seems like,   cull prices go in the tank then,,

 

 

 

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