Plan your marketing before selecting bulls. Bull sales this fall have made it clear that bull buyers will be facing record prices in 2005. For those who budget bull costs by planning to pay either the cost of three bred cows or six weaned calves for a bull, the ratios won't change much as calf prices have also been high, but it guarantees that 2005 bull purchases will represent a significant investment.

The importance of this year's selection will be magnified because the value of genetics in the marketplace is drastically changing. National ID promises to radically transform the marketplace and, with the continued growth of branded and value-based marketing programs, the days of value differences being lost in a commodity pricing system are shrinking.

Considering the size of the investment and importance of this year's bull selection, it's imperative that producers take a focused look at their cow herd and marketing plans and match their bull selections to a long-term strategic plan. The right genetics are always cheap but even “good” genetics that are headed to the wrong target are a bad investment.