The spring bull sale season is underway. Catalogs are being studied, EPDs and individual animal performance numbers are being compared, and choices are being made as to which bulls will be the next herd sires. One of the obvious drivers in the choice of which bull will be bought is price. The perceived breeding value and the expected value of a bull’s offspring are evaluated by the potential purchaser and compared to the bull’s price. As long as the perceived value exceeds the bull’s cost then the bidding continues.
When evaluating a bull’s breeding value against his cost, it is important to take into account not only the bull’s purchase price, but the annual feed and care cost that will be associated with using him to sire calves. It is expected the bull will have a salvage value when he leaves the herd and that should be credited against the cost of ownership. When all of these costs and credits are taken into account, then a cost per calf produced or cost per pound of calf produced can be calculated.
Two of the major factors that drive a bull’s breeding expense are purchase price and number of calves sired.
Bull costs can be a very significant expense to the cow-calf enterprise. Nebraska Extension has developed an Excel® spreadsheet tool called the “Breeding Cost Cow-Q-Lator” that provides producers with a framework from which to calculate what breeding costs are per cow and per calf produced.
This spreadsheet also allows producers to compare the cost of natural service to artificial insemination (A.I.) and evaluate that as a breeding opportunity. The benefits of estrus synchrony, proven success of fixed time A.I., combined with the prospect of using the best bulls in the industry can make A.I. a cost-effective option to use alone or in combination with natural service.
Taking the time to evaluate breeding expenses and bull cost based on cost per calf produced or cost per pound of calf produced can give insight into the real value of a bull. The “Breeding Cost Cow-Q-Lator” can be a helpful tool in evaluating a bull’s cost in comparison to his value.
Check out the “Breeding Cost Cow-Q-lator” spreadsheet and a tutorial video for more information.
Nebraska Extension Educator