Tips on how to cull your herd

In some regions of Ontario, forage is plentiful. In other areas, herds were pulled off pasture in August and have been on hay since then.
We here in Rainy River District probably are somewhere in between the two.
When feed is limited and hay is expensive, you may need to do aggressive culling in your herd.
First to go are open cows and then those with physical problems. Cull cows that probably will not be capable of raising a calf next year. This includes physical problems involving the udder or problems affecting the cow’s ability to forage.
Temperament also should be considered. A cow that is bad-tempered is a risk to humans and needs a one-way ticket. It doesn’t matter if she throws a great calf or not—that calf is no good to you if you’re dead.
Next, focus on culling cows with repeated low productivity. Take a look at your cow production records.
Also consider culling late-calving cows. They produce calves that are smaller at market time, and you will have a hard time getting them bred to catch up to the rest of the herd.
And they likely will calve later again.
The current market indicates uniform calves tend to bring better prices, so you may want to remove any cows that produce “off-type” calves.
To run your operation effectively, put your sentiments aside. Forget about that old girl that is 16 years old. If they are open or sick, they are freeloaders and no amount of sentiment is going to help improve your financial bottom line.
If feed is abundant on your farm, it may pay to put weight on your culls before you ship them. These cows will gain some weight on good-quality forage, but to really improve cow condition and carcass value, you need to feed grain.
However, with this year’s grain prices and currently low cow prices, not too many cull cows will see grain before being shipped.
Normally, cull cow prices generally are low in the fall months, when most go to market. Prices are about five cents per pound higher during the February-September period when the supply is reduced.
This may be an option, depending on how much feed you have available and how “normal” cull cows prices will be over the next few months.
Remember to put some effort into marketing your culls. Consider putting at least some condition on them and find out what the market is doing.
< *c>Dates to remember
•As of Wednesday, Nov. 30, the Emo Agricultural Research Station will be closed for the season; and
•Dec. 7—Rainy River Soil & Crop annual meeting.