As U.S. cattle numbers reach cyclical lows and calf prices reach cyclical highs, producers will begin rebuilding their herds. That means lower culling rates and fewer slaughter cows available to the market. As a result, prices for slaughter cows should be strong for at least the next two years along with other classes of cattle.

CattleFax analysts say extending ownership and feeding cull cows could be a good profit opportunity for cow-calf producers. The prospect of inexpensive grain, along with strong cow prices, makes the strategy doubly attractive. For example, rather than marketing cows in November, producers who feed them for 95 days and market them during February have profited 18 of 18 years in CattleFax records. The average advantage was $59 per head, based only on the additional pounds sold. Feeding cows also has the potential to improve their carcass Quality Grade, adding further value to the animal.