Current economic and disease considerations suggest that it’s better for cow-calf producers to cull open cows after the breeding season and replace them with home-raised retained heifers and purchased bred cows.

University of Nebraska researchers conducted a five-year, cash-flow case study analysis of replacing open cows at a rate of 0 to 100% of the herd. Retained heifers annually made up 22% of the herd’s replacements. Animals added to replace open cows beyond that 22% level were either purchased bred heifers, purchased bred cows or retained open cows.

Retaining home-raised heifers to replace open cows resulted in the highest annual cash return followed by purchasing bred cows and retaining open cows. Purchasing bred heifers resulted in the lowest return alternative.

The February 2011 issue of BEEF “Research Roundup” discussed trichomoniasis and recommended culling all open cows to control potential disease conditions. See the University of Nebraska report at - page 35.

Scott B. Laudert, Ph.D., is a beef cattle technical consultant and former Kansas State University Extension livestock specialist based in Woodland Park, CO. He can be reached at 719-660-4473.