MANHATTAN, Kan. – With record high cattle prices and evidence of herd rebuilding in Kansas and across the nation, beef producers are likely going to buy some of the most expensive, but highest quality, bulls they have ever bought this upcoming spring bull buying season, said Dan Moser, associate professor and beef cattle genetics specialist for K-State Research and Extension.
“Seedstock producers across Kansas and the country are producing the best bulls ever with the use of technology, expected progeny differences (EPDs) and DNA tests,” Moser said. “That information allows commercial producers to make more genetic progress using the same technology.”
For producers planning to buy a new herd bull this spring, now is the time to begin anticipating the potential high demand and price, while identifying the traits needed in that next sire. Moser said a good place for producers to start is writing out a job description for the next bull or bulls they plan to purchase. This description will depend on the producers’ marketing system now and in the next few years, goals for genetic improvement and their particular crossbreeding program.
Fulfilling the needs of your situation
The cattle industry, Moser said, is currently in a rebuilding phase due to recent drought and market conditions. Many producers who have retained a large number of heifers might view calving ease as a top priority in that next herd sire—a different approach perhaps than those producers who plan to use their bull mostly on mature cows.
For producers who have both heifers and mature cows, another solution might be to use artificial insemination (AI) on the heifers, Moser said.
“Consider heat synchronization of your yearling heifers before the breeding season,” Moserhe said. “AI them one time, and try to get a reasonably high number of them bred before turning out a clean-up bull. This might actually lower your breeding costs and shorten the calving season.”
Along with herd inventory, Moser said producers should think about prioritizing the traits needed in a sire to match their revenue stream.
“If they are primarily selling calves at weaning, the traits to prioritize might be different than someone who retains ownership of their calves through the feedlot phase and market their cattle on a grid directly to the packer,” he said.
Also, assessing current genetics, sires used in the past and any possible deficiencies in the herd are important, Moser said.