Posted August 21, 2023
by Rachael Oliver, RAAA commercial marketing specialist
This year has been full of surprises so far, resembling a roller coaster ride at times with its ups and downs. The calf prices and unknowns from drought started 2023 on a low note. However, optimism began to emerge as spring started and summer brought high points in the market. This trend was reflected in the spring 2023 bull sale season.
During spring, we found a significant increase in the number of high-selling bulls. When I first saw this, I had to do a double take to make sure I was seeing correctly. Considering the crippling inflation that has affected me and my family, I was surprised to see the increase.
After some digging and reflection on the spring sale season, it became clear that a new trend had started. Producers buying just any bull in the sale offering seems to be fading away. Cattle producers are now selecting balanced trait bulls that check all the boxes for improving their herds in terms of maternal and growth traits. Producers are becoming more selective and favoring the one bull that fits their needs.
Instead of buying two cheaper bulls that may collectively fit their criteria, producers are spending more on one bull that combines their goals and will improve their herds. This year, we observed 120 bulls sell for more than $15,000, compared to 91 last year. Additionally, the number of spring bull sales averaging more than $5,000 increased from 37 to 47 compared to the previous year.
While these numbers may not seem jaw-dropping to those who consistently sell bulls for higher prices or always average above $5,000, it's important to note that these sales occurred across the country, including both established and new breeders. This trend highlights the value that customers place on stand-out bulls.
Even with crippling input costs, producers know that selecting well-balanced bulls will likely result in higher market premiums for their calf crops. This switch in buying tendencies puts pressure on seedstock breeders to continuously improve their genetics and provide top-quality bulls to their customers.
Red Angus breeders have diligently worked on improving their genetics, and this data should excite them that their hard work is paying off. However, it's crucial for breeders to continue to meet the needs of their customers. By working with RAAA staff, seedstock breeders can contribute to the success of commercial cattlemen and women, thereby fostering the growth of the Red Angus breed.