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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

February 7, 2024 - 9:00am --

Going to a bull sale is like watching the NFL draft.  Just like the player that was drafted way too high, or slipped too far, there are bulls that you will think went for way too much money or went way too cheap.  As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  All it takes is two people that really want a particular bull to get the bidding war off and running.  While I will never tell you what you should pay for a bull, I can offer some guidelines on how to value a bull for your operation.

As with most questions regarding money, there is no absolute value.  The true value of a bull will vary between operations and individual needs.  While there are some differences of opinion, I have heard the rule of thumb that a bull is worth 3 to 5 of his offspring.  For the sake of today’s discussion, we will go with 5.  The next piece of the puzzle is knowing your product.  What are you selling?  Do you sell weaned calves in the fall? Or are you overwintering calves to sell in the spring? Or are you feeding out your cattle, or retaining ownership through the feedlot?  If we look into next year, November 2024 feeder cattle are trading at $2.68 and April 2025 fat cattle futures are trading at $1.92.  This would make five 500 cwt calves worth about $6,700 and five 1,400 lb. choice steers worth a total of $13,824.   If you indeed purchase a bull for between $6,700 and $13,824, and that bull has the potential to breed up to 160 cows over the next 6 years, this makes your costs $41 to $86 per exposed cow.

Seeing the potential value a good bull has

Now, I am not telling you that you will be paying at least $6,700 for a bull this spring, or that you should be paying that amount.  What I want you to see is the potential value a good bull has in your operation.  You should also notice that the longer you keep his calves, the more of his value you are able to capture.  If you are retaining and developing heifer calves, this number grows even more as his genetics can be a part of your herd over the next 16 years.  We are in the heart of one of the best cattle price runs in history.  It could be a new plateau, or it could come crashing down on us tomorrow.  The fact remains that if you are looking to advance your genetics and maximize the opportunities to capture that genetic value, you can be more confident in your next bull purchase.

Marketing Strategies, Agriculture Outlook

We have begun our annual Private Pesticide Recertification meetings in the area.  Our first Wayne County session will be at Drake Park, in West Salem on February 9th.  There will be additional opportunities on February 13th in Kidron and March 5th at Secrest Arboretum Welcome Center.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get much interest in the Professional Marketer Program and decided to cancel the event that was to kick off on February 1st.  In place of this program, we will be hosting a one-day Marketing Strategies Workshop on February 28th.  This program will cover:  how to write a marketing plan; determining your price targets; futures/options; marketing strategies for grains, beef cattle and milk; and insurance products.  The program is sponsored by Farm Credit, Gerber Feed Services, and Walnut Hill Feeds.  The cost of the program is $20, and it will run from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the Buckeye Ag Museum.  Also, we will host the annual Agriculture Outlook meeting on March 8th at the Museum.  The program will feature 2024 outlooks on grain crops, international commodity policy, labor, and milk.  Our highlighted speaker is Dr. Chris Wolf from Cornell University.  The cost of the program is $10, and it will run from 8:00 AM to noon.  To register for any of our programs, or if you have agriculture related questions, call the OSU Extension office in Wayne County at 330-264-8722.

  Other OSU Extension programs that may be of interest are:

  • The OSU Digital Ag team will be hosting a weekly one-hour, on-line webinar on various precision livestock farming topics beginning January 31st.  Registration can be found at
  • The 24th Annual Northeast Ohio Regional Dairy Conference will be held on February 21st at the Fisher Auditorium on the OSU-CFAES Wooster Campus.  This year’s program is titled “Turning Cows into cash: Maximizing Profitability”.  You can find more information and register at
  • Quicken for farm accounting record keeping will be offered at five locations beginning in Knox County on February 26th & 27th.  You can find other locations, more information, or register by going to

John Yost is an Extension Educator IV, Agriculture and Natural Resources, at OSU Extension-Wayne County.
This artice was previously published in The Daily Record.