Tag Archive: Value”

Bull Buying – Focus on Value Not Just Price

Bull Buying – Focus on Value Not Just Price

Selecting the right bulls are a key component to the success of any cattle operation. When market conditions are less than ideal focus on finding the right bull, not necessarily the cheapest bull.  Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

2017 is shaping up to be another year of tight margins for cattle producers. As much as ranchers would like to limit expenses during market downturns, some expenditures can’t be postponed. Bulls fall into this category.  The necessity of having an adequate number of bulls goes without saying. When bull buying time and lackluster market conditions coincide there are a few things to keep in mind that can help prevent the situation from having a negative impact on your operation.

When making purchasing decisions, try to consider value over price. Cutting corners rarely results in a positive outcome in the long run. Buying an inferior quality bull now might save you a few dollars in initial cash outlay, but will likely cost you substantially more over the long run than purchasing a quality animal would have.  Bear in mind that the registered cattle market will also be softer this year, although the purebred market typically lags behind the movement of the commercial cattle prices.

The value associated with a bull takes many forms. One of the first forms that can go by the wayside, when buyers are thinking only about price, is the opportunity for risk management and improved calf performance that comes with purchasing a bull with known EPD values. Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) are figures that predict the performance of a bull’s calves. The science and math behind EPDs can be mind boggling, but the application of the information is fairly straightforward and should be utilized by all cattle producers. The predictive power of EPDs has significant value because it enables bull buyers to stay away from bulls whose calves have a genetic propensity towards negative traits (ie. higher birth weights), and focus on bulls whose calves will be more likely to exhibit positive traits (ie. higher weaning weights).

Purchasing a bull without data is a risk not worth taking. Think about the cost of a calf lost due to calving difficulties, or the earning potential given up by selecting a bull whose calves have substandard growth potential. Remember, a bull will sire numerous calves over his productive lifetime, so even small advantages in performance can have substantial cumulative effects. Why would you give up the opportunity to make an informed selection decision by buying a bull without data?

Assuming you are planning on utilizing performance data in your bull selection process (if not, read the previous paragraphs again), there are some basic steps that can be taken to maximize the value associated with your decision.

Step 1) Identify the type of production system in which the bull will be utilized, and what traits are most economically significant in that type of system. How will the bull’s progeny be marketed or utilized? If all progeny are sold at weaning, the list of significant traits are pretty short: calving ease and weaning weight. If heifers sired by the bull are going to be kept the list gets much longer, as all of the maternal characteristics come into play. If calves are marketed based on carcass merit, then even more factors become economically significant. Beware of single trait selection, but also recognize that you also can’t effectively select for all traits simultaneously. Focus your selection pressure on traits with the largest return on investment.

Step 2) Identify the selection tools available that address these traits. By this point in the process a decision will have to be made regarding which breed of bull you are looking for (this can be a lengthy conversation in and of itself), because the specific resources available will differ from breed to breed. There are specific EPDs that are linked to many economically significant traits. These EPDs are an excellent place to start, but when many traits are being considered simultaneously a simpler technique is to utilize Economic Selection Indices. These indices, which are expressed as $ values, incorporate the economic value of multiple EPDs. Because Economic Selection Indices consider values based on economic significance, it is crucial that bull buyers utilize an index that accurately reflects their operation.

From: Beef Cattle Economic Selection Indices By: Bob Weaber, Kansas State University

Step 3) Utilize the tools to select bulls that are the most likely to provide the greatest value to your operation. Effectively using EPDs and Indices, like any other tool, takes some practice and basic understanding. To maximize the effectiveness of the selection tools be sure you are familiar with breed averages, and percentile breakdowns for various traits. (See list below)  This will help you better understand how well the bulls you are considering stack-up within the breed. EPD accuracy (possible change), and the units of measure are also important to keep in mind to help determine what constitutes a meaningful difference between individual bulls.

Links to Breed Averages and Percentile Rankings

Following these steps should help maximize the value of your bull purchase. Price will be a factor in any purchasing decision, and rightfully so, but a bull that does not fit your system and limits your ability to generate return on investment is never a good value, regardless of the price. When financial conditions are tight it is more important than ever to limit risk and make well-informed management decisions based on a plan. When it comes to buying bulls, this means utilizing all available information, and finding a bull that provides real value to your operation.

For more information regarding any of the topics mentioned in this article contact your county’s UF/IFAS Agriculture Extension Agent.  Also, don’t forget about the Florida Bull Test Sale on January 21, 2017, which is an excellent opportunity to find a bull that can bring value to your operation.



Author: Mark Mauldin – mdm83@ufl.edu

I am the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Washington County. My program areas include livestock and forage, row crops, and pond management.

Mark Mauldin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/13/bull-buying-focus-on-value-not-just-price/

Enhancing the Market Value of Your Next Calf Crop

Enhancing the Market Value of Your Next Calf Crop

Dothan_Livestock 2016

Image 1: Dothan Livestock Market, Dothan, AL sale ring Photo Credit Kalyn Waters

According the 2007-2008 USDA Reference of Beef Cow-calf Management Practices in the United States, approximately two-thirds of cattle operations (60.7%) used an auction market as the primary method of sale for weaned steers & bulls. These auction markets are a cornerstone of the American cattle industry, so it makes sense to utilize the owners or managers as a resource to help you increase the profitability of your operation.

Ed Neel is the owner/operator of Dothan Livestock Market in Dothan, AL. Every morning Neel can be found at the market, and on Monday mornings he is on the auction block, selling calves (Image 1). Running a livestock market is nothing new to Neel, he has been working in the livestock marketing industry since the 1970’s.  Through a recent interview with Neel, he shared his ideas on some basic management practices that cow-calf producers should be utilizing to improve the demand for their calves, and ultimately the total value their calves sold at an auction market.

Castrate Bull Calves

Neel said that, “Buyers will pay a premium for castrated calves.  For 400 weight calves you will generally see a $ 0.10/lbs to $ 0.15/lbs in calves that have been castrated.” Taking this into consideration producers are leaving $ 40.00 to $ 60.00 per head on the table by failing to castrate their bull calves.

Regional and operation size differences have been documented in regards to castration practices in cow-calf operations. Smaller operations are less likely to castrate their calves than larger operations.  Only 50.3% of operations with fewer than 50 head head castrate bull calves, while 85.1% of herds with 100 or more head castrated their calves prior to marketing them. In addition, only 43.9% of producers in the South castrate bull calves, compared to 92.3% are in the Western states (USDA, 2007).

Commonly the thought is that castration of bull calves will result in reduced gains prior to weaning. A University of Florida study (1) used Brangus calves to examine if age of castration would alter the overall 205 day weaning weight of calves. Calves were castrated at either 36 days of age (early) or at 131 days of age (late). This research found that there was no difference in pre-weaning gains when calves were castrated at either 36 days or 131 days of age.

Research conducted at Oklahoma State (2) shows that castration after arriving at the feed yard can result in a 19% decrease in ADG (average daily gain) when compared to bull calves. In addition, steers had an increased ADG of 0.58 lbs over cut bulls during the initial feeding phases. This decrease in ADG and feed intake, in addition to increase health and morbidity risk, all contribute to the buyer’s ability to pay a premium for castrated calves.

Genetics and Management

At the end of the day, quality will always be rewarded. Calves with good growth potential, that show quality genetics through confirmation and phenotype will continue to bring demanded in the market place. Neel believes, “If you bring good quality calves to the market, buyers will pay for them.”

Sire selection becomes key in making genetic improvements to your herd. Each cow has the ability to genetically influence only one calf per year, however, a herd sire has the opportunity to influence 25 to 30 calves annually (in natural breeding system). Making breeding decisions that lead to genetically superior calves with strong performance characteristics is key in having a successful day at the livestock market.

In addition, buyers can tell if calves come from an operation with good management practices. “Calves need at least one round of shots, two is best” said Neel, “and when a calf comes in that is dehorned, castrated, and has a tag in its ear, you can tell they come from an operation with good management practices.” These good management practices will pay off.  According to Neel you will typically see a $ 0.10/lbs increase at the livestock auction.

Implant Your Calves

“Buyers DO NOT discount for implanted calves, in fact, most of the time they don’t know whether or not the calves have been implanted when they come through the market ring,” said Neel. So why do only 9.8% of cattle producers in the U.S. implant their calves? (Figure 1)

USDA 2007 Percentage of Operations in U.S. implanting calves prior to or at weaning.

Figure 1: Percentage of Operations in U.S. implanting calves prior to or at weaning.

Since being approved for use in beef calves in the 1950’s, growth implants have shown consistent increases in the average daily gain (ADG) of suckling calves. A review of research on implanting calves by Dr. Selk, Oklahoma State University (4) shows that an increased ADG of 0.10 lb/day in steers and 0.12 to 0.14 lb/day in heifers when implants are properly administered. Implants are most effective when calves from 60 to 180 days of age. This date would support that an average weight gain of 12 pounds pre-weaning would result from implanting a steer calf in your herd.

Growth implants for calves cost around $ 1.00 per head plus labor. This week at the Dothan Livestock Market, Medium to Large, 1 & 2  450 lbs steers brought up to $ 1.49  Therefore, 12 pounds of addition gain, with $ 1.00 of expense, would result in a tremendous return on investment of $ 17.88 per head. There are few tools that beef producers can invest $ 1.00 in that provide such an excellent return.

While some producers will say they have implanted their calves and did not notice a difference, a 12 pound difference in overall weaning weights could be difficult to visibly notice, even to the most experience cattle producers, however, the additional $ 17.88 per head would be easy to notice in the market check.

As bull sale season draws near, producers need to keep in mind that investing in superior genetics will pay dividends when calves are marketed. In addition, implementing basic management strategies, such as castrations, dehorning, vaccinations, and utilization of growth implants will add to the total value of calves sold at your local market.



  1. Amie Imler, Todd Thrift, Matt Hersom, and Joel Yelich, Effect of Age at Castration on Beef Calf Performance
  2. Berry, B.A., W.T. Choat, D.R. Gill, C.R. Krehbiel, R.A. Smith, and R.L. Ball, Oklahomate State.   Effect of Castration on Health and Performance of Newly Received Stressed Feedlot Calves
  3. Martha Thomas and Matt Hersom, Considerations for Selecting a Bull
  4.  Selk, G. 1997. Implants for suckling steer and heifer calves and potential replacement heifers. In Symposium: Impact of implants on performance and carcass value of beef cattle (pp. 40-50). Stillwater: Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station.
  5. Matt Hersom and Todd Thrift, Implants for Cow-Calf and Stocker Beef Cattle
  6. 2007-2008 USDA Reference of Beef Cow-calf Management Practices in the United States




Author: Kalyn Waters – kalyn.waters@ufl.edu

Holmes County Extension Director working in the areas of Agricultural Management in row crop, natural resources, livestock and forage production. Specialized in Beef Cattle Production in the area of reproductive, nutritional and finical management.

Kalyn Waters

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/09/23/enhancing-the-market-value-of-your-next-calf-crop/

Florida Farmland Value Holding Fairly Steady

Florida Farmland Value Holding Fairly Steady

The last few years most of the farm market news has been pretty discouraging, with declining market prices for peanuts, cotton, corn, soybeans, and cattle. In August, however, USDA released the 2016 Land Values Summary report that showed that the value of farmland has held fairly strong, despite depressed commodity prices.  Ultimately, increases in land value over time is only acquired when farmland is actually sold, but it also impacts the equity of the entire farm and the ability to secure loans as collateral.  In really tough years, parcels can also be sold off to hold on to the majority of the farm.  While land sales are not something farmers and ranchers participate in on a regular basis, it is good to know that this most valuable farm asset has not lost considerable value, even though the farm economy has been in serious decline the last three years.

National Highlights from the USDA Report:

The United States farm real estate value, a measurement of the value of all land and buildings on farms, averaged $ 3,010 per acre for 2016, down $ 10 per acre (0.3 percent) from 2015 values. Regional changes in the average value of farm real estate ranged from a 3.3 percent increase in the Pacific region to 4.3 percent decrease in the Northern Plains region. The highest farm real estate values were in the Corn Belt region at $ 6,290 per acre. The Mountain region had the lowest farm real estate value at $ 1,110 per acre.
The United States cropland value decreased by $ 40 per acre (1.0 percent) to $ 4,090 per acre from the previous year. In the Southeast region, the average cropland value increased 4.0 percent from the previous year.  However, in the Northern Plains region, cropland values decreased by 5.4 percent.
The United States pasture value remained constant at $ 1,330 per acre. The Delta region had the highest increase of 3.9 percent from 2015. The Northeast region had the highest decrease in pasture land at 2.6 percent.

2016 Florida Farmland Value Summary

Florida farmland values have held fairly steady over the past four years.  According to USDA’s estimates, only the Real Estate Value (value of all land and buildings) of Florida farmland declined in 2016, down $ 100/acre from 2015.  Crop and pasture land actually increased slightly in value over the past year.  Average crop land value increased $ 70 per acre, and pasture land $ 200 per acre.

Southeastern States Summary

There is considerable variation between land values in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama.  Clearly proximity to larger urban areas, demand for development, and the types of crops grown in the four states influences land prices. This report does not break down land values into regions of each state, so the value of land in the Florida Panhandle land might more closely resemble the average for the Southeast.

Average Crop Land Value Estimates2016 SE Crop LandThe definition used to classify cropland includes field crops, vegetables, CRP, and hay production.  Certainly the percentage of citrus, vegetable, and sugarcane land in Florida skews the value some as compared to the other states. 

Irrigated Crop Land Value Estimates

2012-16 Irrigated vs Dryland Cropland ValuesIn the USDA report, crop land values for many states are averaged, but for states such as Florida and Georgia, with a higher percentage of irrigated acres, they provided separate land values for both irrigated  and dryland or rain-fed crop land.

Pasture Land Value Estimates2016 SE Pasture Land ValuePasture land values are much more similar across the southeast, but are still significantly higher in Florida, likely due to the higher demand for development.  Interestingly, USDA estimates the value of Georgia pasture has declined over the past five years, while the other states have had a slight increase in value.  Pasture land value in the Florida Panhandle would probably more closely resemble the average for the Southeast.

Download the full USDA report summary for more details from surrounding states:

USDA Land Values 2016 Summary



Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – Jackson County Extension Director – Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/09/10/florida-farmland-value-holding-fairly-steady/

Tupelo Honey – Rich in Local History and Medicinal Value

The Annual Tupelo Honey Festival will be held on Saturday, May 21st from 9 AM – 4 PM at Lake Alice Park in Wewahitchka. It’s an exciting event, and your chance to take part in this local delicacy. Area honey producers will be on hand, selling their honey in a variety of sizes. There will also be food, art & crafts, and live music.

For decades, tupelo honey has been synonymous with Gulf county. The pollen from the tupelo gum tree (Nyssa ogeche), produces some of the finest honey in the world. The common name “tupelo” is derived from language of the Muscogee Nation, also known as the Creek Indian Nation. The meaning of the word is “swamp tree”, as this tree flourishes in areas of wet soils and seasonal flooding. Gulf county, especially in the Dead Lakes and Apalachicola river region, provides prime habitat for one of the largest tupelo forests on earth.

The tupelo pollination process kicks off during April. The tupelo bloom begins to form as a small bud. Within a few weeks, the bud explodes into a cluster of many nail or spike like attachments. At this point, honeybees begin to descend and capture the pollen.


Figure 1. Honeybee visiting tupelo blossoms.

Credit. Gulf County Tourist Development Council.

The tupelo bloom season lasts from approximately mid-April to the end of May. This is an anxious time for beekeepers. Tupelo blooms are very temperamental and delicate in nature. For this short period, beekeepers hope for little wind or rain and no cold temperatures, as any of these factors can decimate tupelo honey production. Regardless of seasonal impacts, the demand for Gulf County’s tupelo honey never subsides.

A bonus to honey’s great taste, is the medicinal value. Honey has been used for medicinal purposes throughout time and cultures. Ancient Egyptians used honey in the embalming process, wound dressing and treatment for burns. Honey can be used as an antimicrobial agent. This is mostly due to low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide produced naturally from sugar compounds. Honey contains large amounts of sugars, approximately 97%. Most of the sugar content is glucose and fructose. Honey also contains smaller amounts of vitamins and minerals.

The color of honey is a factor when grading content. Generally, a darker honey will have a higher concentration of polyphenols. This means the honey is higher in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Exposure to area honey has been thought to help people who suffer from area specific seasonal allergies. However, there is no consensus among the scientific community to support the claim. Though there is research supporting honey as medicinal purposes, please consult with your physician before using as a medical treatment.

Enjoy tupelo honey and see you at the festival!

For more information on Gulf County Tupelo Honey, please visit:



Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS EDIS publication “Health Benefits and Medicinal Value of Honey” by Sara Marshall, Liwei Gu and Keith R. Schneider: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FS/FS26700.pdf

An Equal Opportunity Institution. UF/IFAS Extension, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Nick T. Place, Dean for UF/IFAS Extension. Single copies of UF/IFAS Extension publications (excluding 4-H and youth publications) are available free to Florida residents from county UF/IFAS Extension offices.




Author: Ray Bodrey – rbodrey@ufl.edu

Gulf County Extension Director, Agent II Agriculture, Natural Resource & Community Development

Ray Bodrey

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/05/13/tupelo-honey-rich-in-local-history-and-medicinal-value/

USDA Releases Farm Land Value Report

Florida farm real estate values have been declining in the recession, but seem to be settling

USDA Report shows Florida farm real estate values are still declining.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their Land Values 2013 Summary last month based on surveys conducted in early June.  This report provides some unbiased averages that could provide a helpful starting place for land sale negotiations, but is most helpful for showing the general market trends over the past four years.  As you can see from the chart above, land values are still declining in Florida, but appear to be slowing down.  If the economy continues to improve, land values may start to rise once more.

The following charts are summaries from the four southeastern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.  Interestingly, the trends in the Southeast do not completely match the general trends in other regions of the country.

USDA Agricultural Land Value Highlights

The United States farm real estate value, a measurement of the value of all land and buildings on farms, averaged $ 2,900 per acre for 2013, up 9.4percent from revised 2012 values. Regional changes in the average value of farm real estate ranged from a 23.1 percent increase in the Northern Plains region to no change in the Southeast region. The highest farm real estate values were in the Corn-belt region at $ 6,400 per acre. The Mountain region had the lowest farm real estate value at $ 1,020 per acre.

The United States cropland value increased by $ 460 per acre (13.0percent) to $ 4,000 per acre. In the Northern Plains and Corn-belt regions, the average cropland value increased 25.0 and 16.1 percent, respectively, from the previous year.  However, in the Southeast region, cropland values decreased by 2.8 percent.

The United States pasture value increased to $ 1,200 per acre, or 4.3 percent above 2012. The Southeast region had the largest percentage decrease in pasture value, 1.5 percent below 2012. The Northern Plains had the highest increase at 18.4 percent.

To see the USDA summary for the entire US download:  2013 USDA Ag Land Value Report


SE Farm Real Estate Value

SE Crop Land Value

SE Pasture Land Value




Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Jackson County Extension Director, & Livestock & Forages Agent

My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/08/23/usda-releases-farm-land-value-report/

Forest Stewardship Internet Video Workshop: The “Green Value” of Your Woods

December 12, 2012; 1:00 – 4:00 PM ET (12:00 – 3:00 PM CT)

At participating UF-IFAS Extension Office across Florida (listed below)

Get a more complete picture of the value of your woods! Florida’s private forest lands provide many economic and environmental benefits to society such as protecting water quality, wildlife conservation and carbon storage. Until now we have known little about the dollar value of these environmental benefits. The University of Florida recently identified and quantified the economic values of environmental benefits, or “green value”, provided by lands enrolled in Florida’s Forest Stewardship Program. Join us to get a more complete picture of the value of your woods. We will also get a review and update on greenbelt assessment policy for property taxes.

Tentative Agenda (all times Eastern):

  • 1:00 pm Sign in at facility, meet and greet
  • 1:15 Program introduction, Chris Demers, Forest Stewardship Coordinator, UFIFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation (SFRC)
  • 1:30 Forest Stewardship “Green Values”, Melissa Kreye and Chris Demers, SFRC
  • 2:30 Break
  • 2:45 Greenbelt Review and Update, George Wheeler, Agriculture Greenbelt Coordinator, Florida Department of Revenue
  • 3:45 Q&A, Conclusion, Evaluation, Adjourn

Download a printer friendly flyer:  Green Value of Your Woods Flyer

Register: This program is free. Details and registration on-line at:

You may also register by calling the contact listed for the location you wish to attend.

Bonifay, UF-IFAS Holmes County Extension Office
1169 E Hwy 90 – Bonifay, FL 32425-6012
Call at (850) 547-1108 to register.

Chipley, UF-IFAS Washington County Agriculture Center
1424 Jackson Avenue Suite A (Hwy 90) – Chipley, FL 32428
Call (850) 638-6180 to register.

DeFuniak Springs, UF-IFAS Walton County Extension Office
732 N 9 Street – DeFuniak Springs, FL 32433-3804
Call (850) 892-8172 to register.

Jay, UF-IFAS Santa Rosa County Extension Office
5259 Booker Lane – Jay, FL 32565
Call Janis (850) 675-3107 to register

Marianna, UF-IFAS Jackson County Extension Office
2741 Pennsylvania Avenue – Marianna, FL 32448
Call (850) 482-9620 to register.

Quincy, UF-IFAS Gadsden County Extension Office
2140 W Jefferson Street – Quincy, FL 32351-1905
Call (850) 875-7255 to register

Funding for this event provided by the USDA Forest Service through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Florida Forest Service, and a grant from the Florida Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee.

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2012/11/02/forest-stewardship-internet-video-workshop-the-green-value-of-your-woods/