Early Herd Rebuilding May Occur By way of the Bred Cow Market

The USDA Cattle Stock report confirmed a 4% discount in beef cows, a 6% lower in heifers held again for retention, and a 5% discount in heifers anticipated to calve this yr (USDA-NASS 2023). Feeder cattle provides can be lowered nationally in 2023. Continued liquidation in 2023 will rely upon the revenue margins producers anticipate to obtain. Greater costs for feeder cattle are anticipated however larger feed prices, particularly hay, and different inputs are limiting the revenue potential. Some producers have already run out of hay as heavy snow has restricted winter grazing and chronic drought circumstances shortened the grazing season and lowered general hay manufacturing. A lot has been stated concerning the ENSO climate patterns altering this yr. If this climate sample does materialize the change will profit the Southern Plains with a cool and moist spring/summer time whereas the Northern Plains typically keep dry in the summertime earlier than a cool/moist fall. For Northern Plains cattle producers, it might get a bit more durable earlier than issues enhance from a feed perspective.

There can be producers who’ve feed assets and consider earnings are available in 2023 and 2024. The quickest means for these producers to extend the feeder cattle provide is thru the addition of bred cows or bred heifers. Bred heifers obtain a premium over bred cows. For instance, the worth ratio of bred heifers to bred cows has averaged 2.5% over the past 5 years. In different phrases, bred heifers are on common 2.5% costlier than bred cows. The premium is the widest within the Spring (March-Might) and lowest within the Fall (September-November). There’s a premium as a result of longer helpful lifetime of the cow within the herd however smaller than anticipated because of potential points with calving which may happen with first calf heifers. 

Nevertheless, the nationwide bred cow value masks a number of elements that influence value. Age, weight, months bred, genetics and market circumstances are the first drivers of bred cow costs. One examine utilizing Oklahoma Metropolis bred heifer and bred cow gross sales from 2000-2015 estimated the premiums and reductions for every of those elements within the bred cow market (see Mitchell et al. 2018). For instance how these elements might influence producers’ selections to both purchase or promote bred cows this yr, I stroll by way of a number of situations assuming we now have a three-year-old bred cow that’s six months pregnant, is a medium/massive 1-2, and black hided. February 2023 costs for this sort of cow in Oklahoma Metropolis, OK is $1,150 however has averaged $870 over the previous three years. 

Producers promoting cows older than this could anticipate to obtain a reduction and the reductions are inclined to lower virtually linearly from 0%-20% as cows age. A four-year-old bred cow would price $1,150 (0% low cost), a seven-year-old bred cow would price $1,035 (10% low cost), and a ten-year-old bred cow would price $920 (20% low cost). Producers contemplating advertising older cows as bred ought to acknowledge the heavy reductions assigned as age will increase.

Equally, the nearer the cow is to calving, the costlier the bred cow turns into relative to a six-month-old bred cow. Reductions and premiums are practically linear between a 4% premium ($1,196) for an eight-month-old bred cow, a 5% low cost ($1,092) for a 4-month-old bred cow, and a 12% low cost ($1,012) for a one-month-old bred cow. These premiums and reductions exist as there much less danger of dropping a calf as age will increase, decrease manufacturing prices earlier than the calf’s beginning, and income is obtained extra rapidly when late-gestating cows are bought.

Promoting this identical bred cow at totally different instances of the yr will influence the worth obtained. Producers seeking to purchase bred cows within the late winter or early spring ought to anticipate to pay a premium. The best premiums are in February and March as many producers are buying cows which are on the identical calving cycle in anticipation of summer time grass and pastures. Costs peak in early March at roughly an 8% premium ($1,242). Costs are lowest in the summertime and fall months in areas which are heavy spring calvers as producers are culling their herds and figuring out which heifers to be retained – a 4% low cost ($1,104). Promoting the identical high quality, age, and being pregnant age leads to a distinction of $138 per cow.

Present market circumstances may also play a task within the value of bred cows. The feeder cattle and corn markets are the 2 largest drivers of bred cow costs. Greater feeder cattle costs create incentives for extra calves to be dropped at market and bred cows are the quickest means to take action. Greater corn costs enhance the price of achieve in feedlots. This places downward stress on feeder cattle costs though the influence is delayed because it takes at the very least 6-8 months earlier than the potential calf will attain the feedlot. Combining these impacts and present value forecasts can present the premiums and reductions producers can anticipate to obtain for a bred cow.

Premiums/reductions are relative to our bred cow (three-year-old that’s six months pregnant) and present CME Feeder Cattle ($210 per cwt.) and Corn ($6 per bu.) contracts. Desk 1 exhibits these premiums and reductions. The close by feeder cattle value on the time of sale has a a lot bigger influence than the close by corn value. For instance, relative to the BASE, a $0.50 decline would enhance the worth of our bred cow by 0.77% whereas a $10 per cwt. enhance within the feeder cattle contract will increase the worth by 5.29%. Producers seeking to rebuild herds by way of the bred cow market ought to pay attention to these and different elements earlier than shopping for or promoting bred cows.

Desk 1. Close by CME Feeder Cattle and Corn Worth Expectations on Bred Cow Premiums and Reductions.


Supply: Authors’ calculations utilizing estimates from Mitchell et al. (2018)
Word: Estimates are for a 3-year-old bred cow that’s 6 months pregnant.