A bull is the male individual of the species Bos taurus, commonly known as cattle. Characterized by their strong, robust physique and often aggressive behavior, especially during the breeding season, bulls play a crucial role in cattle reproduction.
They are easily distinguished from their female counterparts, cows, by their larger size, thicker necks, and prominent, unaltered horns. While they may be used for various purposes in agriculture, such as ploughing fields or other forms of draft work, their primary role in a herd is to impregnate cows to ensure the continuation of the cattle population.
The iconic image of the bull, with its formidable horns and powerful build, has also led to its symbolism of strength and virility in various cultures around the world. But how much does a bull cost and why would it be worth this much?
How much does a bull cost?
A good bull costs anywhere between $3,000 and $12,000, although most people will pay somewhere around $5,000 for their bull. It is said that you should pay for a bull the value of five calves he sires.
Experts believe that this is a good rule of thumb to guide your acquisition efforts by, although this still doesn’t narrow down the range too much. So when trying to get an exact answer, we’re more likely to find ourselves asking more questions. Let’s take an average example of a bull that would sire 100 calves over its lifetime:
- According to people working with bulls, the ones that come with calving ease (CE) numbers that are in the 10 percent of the breed will usually be expected to have three or more live calves out of 100, compared to your average CE bull. This means a figure, in today’s prices, or about $2,100 if you were to use $1.40/lb. for 500 lb. calves.
- Things get a little more complicated when you try to put a number on carcass traits. You can never tell how much an increase in intramuscular fat will affect the percentage of USDA choice or 2/3 of Choice.
- According to available data, a bull from the top 20% will return an additional $30 vs an average bull worth in carcass weight. This means an extra $3,000 in total.
- As for replacement females, their value becomes a lot more significant when you consider added fertility, added carcass, added growth, as well as longevity.
This chart should be a great way to evaluate ownership costs for a bull based on annual or per-cow numbers.
|Bull Purchase Price||Cost per Cow Bred (assuming 157 cows bred between ages 1 to 6)||Cost per Year (assuming 6 years of service)|
When should you market your calves and what is their value?
One of the more recent USDA Cattle Market Reports from Oklahoma National Stockyards says that:
- Finished beef steers of 1,400 lb. are worth $164.50/cwt live, with a value of $2,303 each. So for a marketing plan to retain ownership through finishing and selling fed cattle, the answer is $2,303 x 5 = $11,515 on a carcass value basis.
- Yearling steers (Large, 1) of 874 lb. are worth $1.78/lb. or so, with a value of $1,555 per head. So for a marketing plan to sell yearling steers, expect a value of $1,555 x 5 = $7,775.
- Weaned steer calves (Large, 1) of 523 lb. are worth $2.31/lb. or so, with a value of $1,208 per head. So for a marketing plan to sell weaned steers, expect a value of $1,208 x 5 = $6,040.
Taking the numbers above, we can conclude that the current market takes the worth of a good bull somewhere between $6,000 and $11,500 when used in a commercial cattle operation. Current market conditions, as well as your individual marketing plan, will give the exact number inside this range.
Final words on the bull value
The average bull costs somewhere between $3,000 and $6,000, depending on several factors like market conditions, the type of bull you get, your geographical location, and so on. As a general rule, a bull is said to be worth five calves he sires. Even though this cost is nothing to brush off as a minor investment, owning a bull a properly marketing it will help you get your investment back along with a decent profit.
Make sure you do your due diligence and only buy the animal from a reputable breeder so that you know you’re getting something worth paying for.