Your Guess Is As Good As Mine!
I have had the opportunity to attend several bull sales already this year, and to visit with a number of people along the way. In the course of our conversations, everyone continues to ask me: What will the cattle market do?
While I, by no means, consider myself a cattle market expert, I do interact, on a weekly basis with those whom I consider to be just that. The honest answer they keep giving me to that question is that they just don’t know. The crystal ball is foggy right now, so until the picture clears up we are forced to live in the present, which, if you are a cow/calf producer, the present isn’t a bad place to be – $1,000-plus calves, and all!
Around this time last year I wrote a column and shared the observation that it appeared to me that bull buyers were willing to pay extra for what they considered to be high quality bulls, but they had no desire to even bid on bulls that weren’t exactly what they wanted. This year I am seeing the same thing, but the demand for the high quality bulls has just exploded beyond what it was at that time.
Without many exceptions, any structurally correct bull with moderate to light birth weight, coupled with above average performance and eye appeal, has been bringing $5,000 to $7,000-plus. This fact means that bull sales have been averaging in the neighborhood of $1,000 more this year than last. I know that, for many of you who need to buy bulls this year, this is not welcome news.
I do have one other observation that may help ease your minds a little. Over the past couple of weeks I have been able to evaluate around 1,200 head of bulls between the herd visits I’ve made and bull sales I’ve attended. From this I have noticed that the percentage of bulls available, and that match the description I just gave, has really increased over the past number of years. It seems to me that the consistency of high quality bulls just keeps getting better and better every year. At many of the stops I make these days, it has come to the point where I note the couple of bulls that have a few flaws, because the majority of the group is just flat out good.
Not everybody has the same criteria when it comes to selecting bulls. If they did, it would make for rather short bulls sales. Understanding this, I am doing a lot of generalizing, but I hope you have all noticed this same trend in bull quality as I have. It is good to know that there are a large number of bulls available today that will allow you to improve your calf crops over the coming years.
When you break it down and each extra pound of calf you market has the possibility of making you upwards of two dollars, depending on the weight of your calves at market time, having access to these kind of genetics en masse is a good thing, even though they cost you more now than in years past.
See you down the road,