Cull Cow Prices in 2024 by: James Mitchell, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Arkansas

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Cull cow values are trending higher in 2024. The first graph immediately below shows weekly cull cow prices for 85-90% lean cows in the Southern Plains. This type of cull cow classification correlates to a cow with approximately a body condition score of 4.5-5.5, depending on dressing percentage. The most recent data shows cull cow prices reaching $1.22 per pound, a 73 percent increase compared to last year. In 2024, cull cow prices are averaging $1.03 per pound or 53 percent higher year over year.


The ground beef market impacts cull cow prices. Cull beef and dairy cows contribute 90 percent lean trimmings that blend with 50 percent lean trimmings from fed cattle to reach a target lean content for ground beef. Approximately 50 percent of U.S. beef consumption is ground beef, andstrong ground beef prices support cull cow markets. The second graph in this article shows weekly wholesale boneless beef prices for 90 percent lean. The most recent data in the graph shows wholesale prices averaging $3.47 per pound or 25 percent higher year over year.


Cull cow prices are also a function of short-run and long-run supply dynamics. The third graph in this article shows the inverse relationship between cull cow prices and cattle inventories. During the liquidation phase of a cattle cycle, we see larger volumes of beef cow slaughter and lower cull cow prices. After several years of liquidation, the available supply of beef cows becomes tight, and cull cow prices increase. The next few years should support cull cow prices when the expansion phase of the next cattle cycle begins and fewer cull cows find their way to sale barns.

Research finds that cull cows represent 15-30 percent of gross revenue for cow-calf producers. We can use several marketing and management strategies to improve the value of cull cows further. Improving body condition score and cow health can mean more total pounds and better cull cow quality, which both impact the total value of cull cows. Price seasonality is another important consideration, with the lowest prices occurring in the fall when most producers sell cull cows. Given the importance of cull cows towards producer evenue, some thought should be given to a marketing plan.

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