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Cow turnover rate

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 3:59 pm
by talltimber
Something I have been thinking about the last couple of days. What is your opinion or experience on cow turnover/cull periods and the financial efficiency of such a period? I know I have a couple that I would hate to see go, mostly a few old cows I bought from Dad when I started, and maybe one that I raised. But, barring a sentimental reason, whats your turnover age, if you have one?
I have some cows 10-12 yo that I have owned for six calves. Most are pretty good, a couple have foot issues, a couple with bag issues developing. At what point would it be financially beneficial to sell the cows? I am thinking 8 or 9 yo so that they may still bring something off the farm or at the barn. Just keep bringing hfrs in. On the other hand, it's hard to sell a cow that's still doing good and raising a good calf. The longer they last the more money they make. Until...they're down or dead, then you have no sale/salvage value.

Edit: Commercial angus/angus cross cattle

Re: Cow turnover rate

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 4:01 pm
by TennesseeTuxedo
I’m bad about letting them go until they drop dead, typically in mid winter.

Re: Cow turnover rate

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 4:19 pm
by bird dog
Lot of it has to do with the cull cow price and replacement price. When they are not bringing but .30 lb like they were just a few months ago, its kinda foolish to get rid of ol Betsy if shes bred and doesn't have any real bad problems except age.

Now if the cull price is .55 to .60 like it has been lately on some, then it makes some since to trade and old short bred plus a couple hundred dollars for a newer model.

If mine are calving on time they stay. Once they start slipping, I'm looking for an exit strategy. Ones with balloon teats go regardless. Bad temperament don't even get a second chance. I currently have one that is 15 years old and have one with only 3 working quarters. Both earned a chance to go another round.

Re: Cow turnover rate

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:07 pm
by Luckiamute
The ability to maintain body condition plays a big role for me in making my decisions. If the cow can't maintain her body condition during the final trimester and the first couple of months after calving, I think it is best to let them raise that calf, don't re-breed them, and then sell them after weaning off her current calf. Hopefully they don't get too thin and still have good value to the cull cow buyers. Sometimes they need a few extra groceries to keep that condition up.

Re: Cow turnover rate

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:47 pm
by TCRanch
I'm the worst at culling but put on my Big Girl Britches & culled hard last year. Was ready to keep 2 of my 12 years olds until the crew helping me work/wean asked who raised the dinks. Sometimes you can't see the forest through the trees. That said, I still have a 13 year old that calves like clockwork, raises a whopper & is still in good condition with no feet issues, etc. (would it kill her to give me a heifer?!?). And a couple 6 year olds sold as cull, which surprised me but that's what the market dictated. Still need to cull & trying to decide whether to sell pairs or wait until weaning. I have no age cutoff. And a couple of my girls have earned the right to retire & subsequently be buried on this ranch.

Re: Cow turnover rate

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:50 pm
by Silver
11 or 12 is plenty old for me, and I won't have many of those. I like to keep the cows young and salable at all time because well, you never know. I try to keep at least 25% of the herd as first and second calvers.

Re: Cow turnover rate

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:04 pm
by Aaron
I keep them as long as they maintain condition. Have 5 right now that are 14 this year. But they will get their teeth checked each fall just to be safe. I want to still have some good value in them in the end and not going to start babying individual animals. I love my old matriarch girls. They know the routine inside out and are easy to get along with. Longest I have had was 16, but it was a year too long as she had no teeth left and condition got too poor for decent price.

Re: Cow turnover rate

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:06 pm
by True Grit Farms
I let the cow raise the calf and breed her back before I cull her. Last year with the low prices my plan worked excellent, since I kept them all and none have died yet, and only one hasn't had a calf. My thinking is a bred cow has a few different options for the buyers to bid on.

Re: Cow turnover rate

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:37 pm
by 1982vett
Used to think 8 or so was getting old...I’ve since shook off that brainwashing. If she’s raising a good calf like clockwork she stays till evidence tells me otherwise. It’s rare they transition to old and useless overnight. Not saying that 8-9 year olds are to young to cull. I’ve got a 4 year old on the cull list right now because of her performance.

Re: Cow turnover rate

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:56 pm
by Caustic Burno
It is all about performance here!
Good grass =good teeth +Brahman influence =longevity. As long as they maintain BCS and calf every 12 months your safe. In 2011 I sold some and hauled for my neighbor some in their 20’s. They still had good teeth, BCS and producing a calf.

Re: Cow turnover rate

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:33 pm
by Bigfoot
Culling is one of those things, that just has to happen. I also believe it’s more costly, than many give it credit for. You take a heifer born on your place, and you’ve gotten 2 calves out of her, and they were both duds.........That’s a huge expense. I mean it’s off the charts. Then you’ve probably got 10% of your cow herd that actually presents a reason to be culled: lost calf, old age, slow breeder. The list goes on and on. It puts the temptation on ya to let that middle aged cow with an average calf keep on trucking. You say well, she brought one to the weaning pen, might as well keep her. Then, that even gets expensive, if you could have fed another one in her place, that could wean a hundred pound bigger calf.

I identified culling or maybe more specifically the need to cull as one of my biggest expenses years ago. It’s why I like a little ear on my cows. People always say where you live, that’s crazy. I personally think not. They are the ones that dodge the bullet the longest, thus lowering that expense.

Feed will always be your biggest expense. I believe that hidden cost of culling is right up there with it. Almost an opportunity cost. You tied up a bunch of resources on a cow that didn’t make it, or tolerated a cow that was barely making it.

Re: Cow turnover rate

Posted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:48 am
by talltimber
Bigfoot wrote:
Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:33 pm
Culling is one of those things, that just has to happen. I also believe it’s more costly, than many give it credit for. You take a heifer born on your place, and you’ve gotten 2 calves out of her, and they were both duds.........That’s a huge expense. I mean it’s off the charts. Then you’ve probably got 10% of your cow herd that actually presents a reason to be culled: lost calf, old age, slow breeder. The list goes on and on. It puts the temptation on ya to let that middle aged cow with an average calf keep on trucking. You say well, she brought one to the weaning pen, might as well keep her. Then, that even gets expensive, if you could have fed another one in her place, that could wean a hundred pound bigger calf.

I identified culling or maybe more specifically the need to cull as one of my biggest expenses years ago. It’s why I like a little ear on my cows. People always say where you live, that’s crazy. I personally think not. They are the ones that dodge the bullet the longest, thus lowering that expense.

Feed will always be your biggest expense. I believe that hidden cost of culling is right up there with it. Almost an opportunity cost. You tied up a bunch of resources on a cow that didn’t make it, or tolerated a cow that was barely making it.
You hit some good points there that I've been considering. My struggle with a hard selling age is replacements, and the cost of them, as you mention. My older cows will sometimes cull themselves before I am ready to do that, injury I can't fix, got one now with hardware I think, etc. So a guy will have those unplanned losses, on top of the beautiful failures.(hfrs)
Replacements are a problem.

You're ear, what's your percentage that you are looking for?

Re: Cow turnover rate

Posted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 7:19 am
by Ebenezer
The issue is marketing older cows. When they are younger and you do not prefer the calf that she raises, get her bred and wait for bred cow prices to go up. If she gets old on your place you have obviously liked the calves. Then you chose to either pound her out when you can no longer maintain her, let her get as fleshy as she can and sell her open or early bred or take a chance to sell her as a late bred replacement for buyers who look for one calf type cattle to wean the calf and resell the pair. They used to say that 10% of a cow calf profit income was the cull cow sales. That is more than the planned profit margin so the selling needs to be marketing.

Re: Cow turnover rate

Posted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 7:36 am
by Caustic Burno
The retained heifer cost is high and a number not figured in by most come replacement time.

Re: Cow turnover rate

Posted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:13 pm
by shaz
Typically, the ones I need to cull are the ones I can't get into the catch pen.