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Shortened breeding season for cattle provides marketing benefits

Friday, June 26, 2020

The ability to sell heavier, more uniform groups of calves at marketing time underscores the need for cow-calf operations to complete their breeding season no later than the end of June.

“Studies show that larger groups of calves that look alike, weigh the same, are the same breed and have been treated the same bring more dollars per hundredweight than animals that have to be sold one to three at a time,” said Glenn Selk, OSU Extension emeritus animal scientist and managing editor of the university’s popular Cow-Calf Corner newsletter and SUNUP television segment.

Research from Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Arkansas and Kentucky has shown a well-defined, 60-day breeding season can provide cow-calf operations – regardless of size – with this marketing advantage. Oklahoma data collected on 15,473 lots of feeder cattle sold at 14 auction locations indicated the following:

  • Lots with 10 or more steers sold for $7.14 per hundredweight more than the price of steers sold as singles.
  • The premium for multiple head lots held for heifers but at about $4 per hundredweight.
  • Multiple head lots that were not uniform sold for approximately $2 per hundredweight less than uniform lots for steers and heifers.

 A 2010 study on Oklahoma Quality Beef Network sales indicated the advantage may be on the upswing. Lots of 10 calves averaged about $8 per hundredweight more than similar calves sold one head at a time. The advantage increased up to truck-load size lots of 40 to 60 head where sale prices were as much as $12 to $13 dollars more per hundredweight as compared to similar cattle sold as singles.

“The premium for uniform, multiple-head lots is generally attributed to the convenience of filling orders for cattle of a specified description on the part of an order buyer,” Selk said. “Larger, uniform lots also may indicate a single point of origin for the cattle leading to less stress and fewer health problems.”

To take advantage of a shortened breeding season, cows must be in good body condition at calving and only bulls known to be fertile should be used as herd sires.

Good news for cattle producers: Marketings are returning to normal as the nation adapts to coronavirus disruptions, said Derrell Peel, OSU Extension livestock marketing specialist.

“Beef demand will be critical with supplies increasing in the second half of the year,” he said. “Retail grocery stores will transition from limited beef supplies in recent weeks to ample supplies at the same time that food service demand is slowly building.”

The Oklahoma Quality Beef Network is a joint project of OSU Extension and the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association and increases producer access to value-added marketing opportunities and improved quality of cattle through better communication between all segments of the beef industry.

OSU Extension is one of two state agencies administered by the university’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and is a key part of OSU’s state and federally mandated teaching, research and Extension land-grant mission.

MEDIA CONTACT: Donald Stotts | Agricultural Communications Services | 405-744-4079 |

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