Today, cattle producers market cows and bulls in much the same way they market the annual production of calves.
However, here is something to keep in mind: If a typical beef producer marketed all the cattle last week that normally would be sold off the operation, approximately 50 percent of the check would be from the value of steer calves, 30 percent from the value of heifer calves and 20 percent from the value of market cows and bulls.
Let me explain by re-examining the 2011 year production benchmarks from those producers involved with the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association.
Let's assume a typical producer exposed 100 cows to the bull. The producer would have 91 calves in the fall. If the male-to-female ratio was 45 steers and 46 heifers, this producer would have approximately 25,740 pounds of steers (572 pounds per steer) to market and 25,070 pounds of heifers (545 pounds per heifer) available as replacements or to market.
The calves would average 190 days of age. The replacement heifers (15 percent) would account for 8,175 pounds, which would leave 16,895 pounds of market heifers.
If herd size is to stay constant, approximately 14 percent of the cow herd inventory will be reduced, which would account for 19,544 pounds (1,396 average cow weight). If a bull also is replaced, an estimated 2,000 pounds of market bull would be available for this assumed NDBCIA herd of 100 cows.
Using the U.S. Department of Agriculture's North Dakota Weekly Auction Summary for the week ending Sept. 22, the value of the calves and the total sale dollars could be calculated.
The marketed steer calves, at 25,740 pounds, should bring $155.17 per hundredweight (average price) for a total of $39,940.76. The 16,895 pounds of heifer calves should bring $140.92 per hundredweight (average price) for a total of $23,808.43. The 19,544 pounds of market cows (estimated at 80 to 85 percent
lean) should bring $75.62 per hundredweight (average price) for a total of $14,779.17. The bull, at $92.75 per hundredweight, should have grossed $1,855.
This would bring our total gross sales check to $80,383.36.
How would the drought change the picture, assuming one wants to continue as a cow-calf producer? The real question is the ratio of replacement heifers and cull market cows.
Even though all the calves may not be sold, they are pulled off the pasture and fed. This places all the calves in a different enterprise, which needs to stand on its own. As a producer, one needs to allocate feed to each enterprise if one exists on the operation. We have the cow, backgrounding, replacement and even the feedlot enterprises.