Cull cows, used cows, spent cows, salvage animals. These are all terms used to describe a product that may contribute 20 percent or more to the income of your beef cow herd each year. That’s why it’s important that producers do not overlook the dollar value of cull cows or the management of these valuable assets.
Research shows that taking thin, body-condition scores 2 or 3 cows up to a 6 really pays off. Research in Arkansas shows that a cow with a body-condition score of 2 had 32 percent of her carcass weight in bone. Thin cows are usually very efficient when fed for a 50 to 60 day period. In addition to adding weight, feeding cull cows for a couple of months will move there marketing time from a "down market" in November to a normally higher cow market in late winter or spring. This makes sense when feed is available but sometimes the feed supply may not allow you to carry the cows over. Keep an eye out for low cost alternative feed stuffs in your area.
It is also important to keep your cowherd current. Don't put off culling an old cow to long. Cows age at varying rates and need to be looked at closely each year. If the cow breeds back on schedule, raises a good calf and doesn't give you trouble then keep her. But by keeping records of cow age and yearly production you can better identify those cows that have become inefficient producers and are weaning lighter calves. Now is not the time to get sympathetic even though calves are selling extremely well. Sell your older cows while they still have market value.