Monday, May 30, 2011

How Much is a Cow Worth?

After these last few crazy days at 4-H on Parade and my high school graduation, I have been able to get back to write you another blog post! Through this weekend, I showed female projects including a purebred heifer and a commercial cow/calf pair, and showed and sold a market steer. What was really interesting to me was the prices of the steers being sold. Through my 4-H career, the prices we 4-Her's have gotten for our steer projects have been very good. Being 4-H kids, we have always received well over market price.

First off, I will explain how market cattle are sold. They are not sold at a flat rate, but by the pound. This year, I was payed $2.00/lb, while actual market price right now is $1.03. So I got 97 cents over what the price is in the real world. I would say that is pretty good! Prices have been up and down in the past year, but one thing stays the same- 4-H kids make off like bandits!

So let's put this into perspective...
  •  4-H Price- $2.00/lb for a 1212 lb. steer = $2424.00 in the bank!
  • Market Price- $1.03/lb for a 1212 lb. steer = $1248.36, about $1175.64 less than what I made
  • Rail Grade Price, based on carcass weight of steer (yield)- a 1212 lb. steer yeilding at 58% = 703 lbs at 1.68/lb = $1180.00
From what I can show you, selling a steer through 4-H has it's benefits. I think it may have to do with the fact that the steer buyers have the kids future in mind, and want to help them fund for it.

Me and Skoal, my last 4-H steer

Breeding cattle, however, are sold at a flat rate, depending on the agreement made between the buyer and seller. Calves, yearlings, and mature animals are often sold at different prices, as their value may differ. However, a 9 month old heifer calf could be sold at the same price as a 2 year old mature bull! Sometimes, the price of cattle can depend on whether they are sold through a public auction (with an auctioneer and a number of bidders) or through private treaty ( a private sale at the farm by the breeder and buyer alone). At a public sale, there may be numerous people bidding on the same animal, which raises the price of it. In private treaty, the buyer and seller will come to a formal agreement on a fair price.

KEW Rob Roy 196X, a yearling bull I sold a few months ago through private treaty
 Cattle prices are always chaning and so is the market for cattle. Things are not like they once were, and they will likely change in the near future as well. One thing has stayed the same- purchasing quality cattle at a fair price.


  1. Awesome post. Very educational. Thank you for taking the time to teach others the skills you have learned!

    Your friend in Pennsylvania,


  2. Thank you! I am so glad that you enjoyed my post :)
    From Alberta,

  3. Howdy! I simply wanted to remark that you definitely succeeded in making a cool resource. And there is also one thing which I wanted to ask you. Do you have an idea to write as a professional or owning a blog is basically just a hobby of yours?

  4. Hi there! I apologize for not seeing this comment until now. This blog was originally part of a youth livestock competition I was participating in. I haven't posted for 2 years now, but am deciding to get back into blogging. Right now it is just a hobby but perhaps in the future I will think about writing professionally!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. This is my first year of showing 4-H Beef Cattle. I was excited about it and it is a 1550 lb. 10 month old 4-H Steer.