Management Decisions and Marketing Opportunities for Replacement Females

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator

Summer is moving along which can mean a variety of things depending on your perspective. For the sports fan, there are plenty activities such as the recent World Cup in soccer, the All Star game in baseball, and training camps for college and professional football. If you are interested in fairs, county fair season is in full swing and the Ohio State Fair is just around the corner.

This time of year is important for the cow-calf producer as well. Depending on the timing and duration of your calving season, most spring calving operations have already or soon will be wrapping up the breeding season in their herds. Regardless of when you decide to conclude the breeding season, there are some important decisions that need to be addressed that can greatly impact the future profitability of your herd.

Sometime shortly after the breeding season concludes, an important management practice that should be implemented by every cow-calf producer is a pregnancy check of the breeding herd. Today, there are three basic technologies available to the producer for pregnancy checking: traditional palpation, ultrasound, and blood testing. Depending on the technology utilized, pregnancy checks should be made 30-60 days after the conclusion of the breeding season.

Determining the pregnancy status of beef cattle continues to be one of the most underutilized yet relatively easy to implement management practices available to beef producers. The most obvious reason for pregnancy checking is to identify non-pregnant or open females for sale as a means to reduce feed expenses. The relatively inexpensive cost of a pregnancy check of $5-$10 can lead to major savings in feed costs in any given year. A significant feed bill can accumulate in the time it would take for an open female to become pregnant, calve, and wean a calf before it can be sold to cover expenses. It would have to be a very “special” open female to justify keeping her around to calve at a much later date.

A timely determination of pregnancy status can greatly benefit the producer in making marketing decisions. There are tremendous marketing opportunities for pregnant and open females in the immediate future. The decision to cull an open or unproductive female for whatever reason should be easier than ever given today’s market prices. Prices for cull cows, market heifers, and heavier heifer feeder calves are at record levels so take advantage of this opportunity. If you want to maintain herd numbers at a relatively constant number, a producer would be wise to cull the open female and replace her with a purchased bred female.

Given the record high prices for all classes of beef cattle, there should be strong demand for bred females this fall. If you have extra bred females in your herd, consider marketing some replacement females this fall. Marketing opportunities can be realized through private treaty sales off the farm, sales through local auction markets, or with other consignment sales available in the region.

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) is providing an opportunity of potential interest for both the buyers and sellers of beef breeding cattle. On Friday evening, November 28, the OCA will be hosting their second annual Replacement Female Sale. The sale will be held at the Muskingum Livestock facility in Zanesville and will begin at 7:00 p.m.

The 2014 Ohio Cattlemen’s Association Replacement Female Sale will provide an opportunity for both buyers and sellers to meet the need for quality replacements in the state. Consignments may include cow-calf pairs, bred cows and bred heifers. Females must be under the age of five as of January 1, 2015 and may be of registered or commercial background. Bred females must be bred to a bull with known EPD’s and calves at side of cows must be sired by a bull with known EPD’s. Pregnancy status must be verified by an accredited veterinarian through traditional palpation, ultrasound or by blood testing through a professional laboratory. Analysis must be performed within 60 days of sale. Consignments will also be fulfilling specific health requirements.

Consignments for the sale are due to the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association by October 1, 2014. Sale information can be obtained by contacting the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association at (614) 873-6736 or at their web site located at . If you have any questions about the sale, you can call me at my office at (740) 289-2071, Extension #242 or contact me by e-mail at Please consider this sale as an option for both buyers and sellers to help contribute to the improvement of Ohio’s beef cow herd.