The value of the replacement heifer

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Consider this your final reminder for the 2013 Ohio Cattlemen's Association Replacement Female Sale. It is coming up on this Friday, November 29, at 7:00 p.m. The sale will be held at the Muskingum Livestock Auction Company located at 944 Malinda St., Zanesville, OH 43701. Seven consignors from around the state have stepped up to consign 88 high quality bred heifers for the sale.

A common question that I have received over the past few weeks is concerning the projected sale price of the heifers selling. I'm sure if you surveyed a wide range of cattle producers in the region, you would probably get a fairly wide price range as to the value of bred heifers. I can appreciate the fact that the sellers deserve to sell the heifers for as much money as possible and the buyers need to purchase them as reasonably as possible. How's that for a politically correct response!

The most honest answer that I can give is that today's cattle market should create enthusiasm amongst producers to want to own bred females. Feeder calf prices are at historically strong levels and the price outlook for the coming years is positive because the nation's cow herd is at its lowest number in nearly 60 years. There are signs that there is some interest in rebuilding numbers but any significant increase in cow numbers will take time. Feed costs are an issue for any producer but Ohio is coming off a positive year for forage production and grain prices are moderating. Ohio is lucky to have significant forage acreage available to expand our cow herd and I believe the market signals are there to do just that.

Consider the following facts. It currently isn't too uncommon to see a desirable 600-700 lb. feeder calf sell for $900-$1,000 at auction. Cull cows are bringing $75-$100 per cwt. at this time. I'm not sure how you can keep an open cow around at those prices but that is a subject for another day! I also know of the value of herd mates to some of the heifers selling on Nov. 29. One consignor took the heifers that were palpated open after breeding season, fed them for less than 90 days, and sold them as market heifers weighing over 1,100 lbs. for an average price of over $1,400. My point behind these numbers is that beef cattle are valuable today and if you can purchase young, bred females at a price that makes sense in today's market and for your particular operation, now is the time to buy!

There are management considerations that should encourage any cow-calf producer in the region to consider the purchase of bred heifers as herd replacements. The typical cow herd in Ohio typically numbers less than 20 cows. Industry surveys show that the typical annual replacement rate is 15-20%. This would result in the typical Ohio producer keeping back 3-4 heifers annually as replacements. It is my observation that these heifers can be difficult to manage for the average producer due to the lack of extra facilities or space to manage them separately from the mature cows. The purchase of bred heifers removes nearly one year's worth of management considerations in the production process for the typical herd.

I've personally inspected all of the heifers selling and have been impressed with the quality. Videos are available on each of the consignments selling in the sale. These videos are available for viewing at the Ohio Cattlemen's Association web site located at www.ohiocattle.org . When you arrive at the OCA main page, click on the "Beef Improvement" tab in the red bar across the top of the page. At the Beef Improvement page, click on "Replacement Heifer Sale" and a listing of the offering will pop up. Click on the highlighted "Video of consignments" button under each consignment description to view the videos.

More detailed sale information including expected calving dates can be obtained by contacting the Ohio Cattlemen's Association at (614) 873-6736 or at their web site located at www.ohiocattle.org . If you have any questions about the sale, you can call me at my office at (740) 289-2071, Extension #242, also at my cell number at (937) 763-6000 or contact me by e-mail at grimes.1@osu.edu. I hope to see you at the sale on Friday, November 29.

Source: John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator


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