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Need advice on Culling older cattle - what to look for

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TNcowman

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Looking for advice on culling older cattle from my herd of 25 cows.I have three or four older ones that seem to have foot problems (limping) several times a year. They seem to be ok after several weeks but come up lame again in a two to three months. Is this the start of bigger problems? Calves look fair compared to others but some starting to breed back slower.
 

dun

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All three are reasons for them to grow wheels. The age isn;t an issue, some cows are old at 5 and some are young at 15.
 

3waycross

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What the other guys said.

The other reason to cull them now is. They can go from a $.52 a lb cow to a $.30 a lb cow overnight. Don't wait until they are almost a downer. Sell them while they still look like they have some life left in them and reinvest the money in replacements.
 

Douglas

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This is a very good question. I am also new to this. I kept 10 replacement from last year and need to cull that many this year. The first two or three are easy after that i have no clue as i don't have good records. My thinking is to base it on this year's calves. Keep the ones with the best calves that were born when i expected them to be.
 

dun

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talldog":27rb6x68 said:
You're as old as you feel--Humans or cows !! :tiphat:

Not true. I'm far from the 100 plus I feel this morning.
 

kenny thomas

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All the above reasons plus any attitude problems. Something to keep in mind, 28 out of the last 28 years cull cows got cheaper in October and November.
 

MoGal

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It really is to your advantage to keep good records..... how else will you remember (from last year or the year before) who weaned off a nice calf or had a dink one? In this economy, you need every extra dime and I'd rather have cows that raise good calves. When I had six cows it was easy to keep up with.... not any more. Only half of them are named and the other half I go by their ear tag #, but I can tell you how much their calf weighed at weaning and what they had and what day and half of the breed back dates as well.

Also, not added yet, but an important one, is the cow's udder.... did the newborn have a hard time nursing??? too big of teats, empty quarter??
That would be another reason for culling (unless you got lots of time to make sure that calf can nurse and want to be bothered by it).
 

nap

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I totally agree with Mogal on the need for keeping good records. One thing I look for is if they start backing their breeding cycle. If it takes an extra heat to get them bred fine, if it takes an extra two heats or they don't come in heat they need to be culled.
 

HerefordSire

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TNcowman":ovy1jr85 said:
Looking for advice on culling older cattle from my herd of 25 cows.I have three or four older ones that seem to have foot problems (limping) several times a year. They seem to be ok after several weeks but come up lame again in a two to three months. Is this the start of bigger problems? Calves look fair compared to others but some starting to breed back slower.

The following logic doesn't take into the consideration of taxes, insurance, depreciation, and interest, etc, unless you place these sums in the total overhead category below.

What is the cost basis of the 4 older problem cows?

What is the cost basis of the 21 younger problem free cows?

My definition of cost basis: say you paid $1,000 for a cow. She had three marketable calves each sold at $500. She consumed $2,000 worth of grass, feed, minerals, healh care, pasture cost, etc. over five years. Therefore, her cost basis is what was paid to have her minus what her calves brought.

Price paid...... = $1,000
Total Overhead = $2,000
-----------------------------
Cash Out........ = $3,000
Cash In.......... = $1,500
-----------------------------
Cost Basis....... = $1,500

If I had a cow with a cost basis of $1,500 and she produced three more calves I was able to sell for $500 a piece, I could break even in four more years and still have her. Therefore, if you cull a cow before you breakeven, including the cash you got from her on a sell, you are in effect, guaranteeing you will lose money on that cow. In other words, there is no possible way you can make money on that specific cow. The cow is history.


You should be able to figure out the rest and don't forget to calculate opportunity cost...what you would do with the money you received if you sold the 4 older cows right away.
 

Douglas

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I have to respectifully disagree with you Hereford on that analysis. The past cost are sunk and never coming back no matter what the current decision. The only important question is future revenue and future costs. You should always take the course of action that max. the future revenue and min. the future cost, or max. the difference.
 

HerefordSire

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Douglas":o40fioo8 said:
I have to respectifully disagree with you Hereford on that analysis. The past cost are sunk and never coming back no matter what the current decision. The only important question is future revenue and future costs. You should always take the course of action that max. the future revenue and min. the future cost, or max. the difference.

I am only interested in profit. If a cow has produced many calves and she has returned the price I paid for her plus all her overhead, she is a profitable cow as long as she has an average calf. Even if she raises a sorry calf, the money received could be enough to cover her overhead which is much more than I could say for a cow that hasn't earned her keep. A cow that has already earned her keep has a higher probability to be profitable than one that has not earned her keep.
 

Douglas

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"A cow that has already earned her keep has a higher probability to be profitable than one that has not earned her keep."

Maybe. If a cow has been profitable in the past but is sick, she need to be culled regardless. The past is the past and is only useful as a future predictor of results.

If you had two cows and had to cull one say because you did not have enough hay for the winter for both. The decision would come down to which one has the better expected future revenue stream vs. expected future cost to keep. An older cow would normally lose in that comparison.
 

HerefordSire

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Douglas":2b8uma2w said:
"A cow that has already earned her keep has a higher probability to be profitable than one that has not earned her keep."

Maybe. If a cow has been profitable in the past but is sick, she need to be culled regardless. The past is the past and is only useful as a future predictor of results.

If you had two cows and had to cull one say because you did not have enough hay for the winter for both. The decision would come down to which one has the better expected future revenue stream vs. expected future cost to keep. An older cow would normally lose in that comparison.

The orginal post mentioned recurring leg issues that get better. But, even if a cow were sick or you don't have enough hay or whatever the reason, she is either profitable or not profitable. It is a very simple concept. As long as she is making me money, why cull her?
 

Douglas

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The orginal post mentioned recurring leg issues that get better.
I was responding to your post.
But, even if a cow were sick or you don't have enough hay or whatever the reason, she is either profitable or not profitable. It is a very simple concept. As long as she is making me money, why cull her?

Because you may be able to get more money by selling at say $600 than get a couple years of $200 profit on calves then the cow dies from old age. She is profitable both ways just more so as a cull. It is all about the future not the past.
 

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