Ryan A. Sterry and William Halfman
Culling decisions are a routine part of beef cow-calf herd management. Producers should make culling decisions based on what is best for their farm’s profitability, and what is best for animal well-being. This can be summed up as marketing cattle while they are in a condition that processors prefer, before they become a transportation risk and their value declines.
Adequately conditioned cows have greater carcass and economic value and are increasingly being referred to as market cows instead of cull cows. The following suggestions are general considerations for you to factor in when developing your farm’s culling strategies.
Decisions specific to an individual animal
Declining health and/or weight loss: Scrutiny is greater than ever to evaluate livestock fitness for transport, specifically cattle at risk for becoming non-ambulatory. Cows must be in adequate health to make the haul when leaving the farm for market and from market to the processing plant. Farmers need to make the decision to market cows before declining health or low Body Condition Scores (BCS) makes them less desirable to processors and sales revenue is lost.
Reproduction: Reproductive efficiency is one of the greatest factors impacting beef cow-calf enterprise profitability. Open cows and heifers consume feed without providing income from calf sales. Late calving cows produce lighter weight calves and have fewer chances to breed back. Economic