Given the high prices in all cattle sectors and optimistic expectations for the future, everyone expected a higher bull sale market this spring. While it hasn’t materialized to the level of the other sectors, the strength of the early bull sales is surprising some folks, particularly when you consider that U.S. herd expansion hasn’t really yet begun.

Bull supplies are likely a little tighter this spring, owing in part to the aggressive culling that was done last fall when cull-bull prices hit record highs. Thus, the expectations of what bulls are going to cost have been raised right along with the higher prices for all classes of cattle.

But, I would attribute some of the spring strength in bull sales to the fact that many forward-thinking cattlemen are looking at this year as a more economical year to purchase bulls rather than wait. The thinking is that once herd expansion begins in earnest, bull prices will be even higher.

Overall, that’s probably a pretty sound strategy. However, when one reads sale reports like that of Schaff Angus Valley’s last week, which averaged nearly $10,500 on 390 bulls, it’s hard to imagine that there could be much upside left to the bull market.

In general, bull sale prices are up somewhere between $500 and $1,500 compared to a year ago.