Compared to steers, increased health problems and decreased performance of bulls that have to be castrated means those bulls must be discounted. How much, continues to be a source of debate.

Kansas State University (KSU) researchers offered some quantification in a recent study conducted by C. Massey and others.

Bottom line, based on the average purchase weight in the study of 460 lbs., bull calves should have been discounted $5/cwt. compared to steers at the same weight. Discounts increased to $5.44 for bull calves weighing 375 lbs. Discounts declined to $3.63 for bull calves weighing 550 lbs.

For comparison, Frank Brazle, offered his rule of thumb at KSU’s Beef Stocker Field Day in 2008. Now retired, Brazle was a long-respected stocker specialist at KSU who continues to run stocker cattle.

When Brazle ran the numbers to present at the 2008 field day, based on research and his own numbers, he calculated a +$52.18 advantage to steers compared to bulls.

“This would calculate out to be about $1.72/cwt. for each 100 lbs. of weight,” Brazle said. “I would estimate the difference (in value) between steers and bulls to be somewhere between $1.50 and $2/cwt. for each 100 lbs. of weight.”

In other words, a 500-lb. bull calf would be discounted $7.50/cwt. (5 x $1.50) to $10/cwt. (5 x $2.00). A 600-lb. bull calf would be discounted $9/cwt. (6 x $1.50) to $12/cwt. (6 x $2.00).