A systematic culling of beef cows can aid Tennessee beef producers in stretching a limited winter feed supply.

Brood cows are the greatest consumers of feed in cow-calf operations. Research at the University of Tennessee indicated that the brood cow consumed 94 percent of the total annual feed consumed by the cow-calf unit in the production of a weaned calf.

A 1,000 pound beef cow will need about 25 to 30 pounds of average or better quality grass hay per head per day during the wintering period. Depending on the length (days) of the wintering period, this could amount to 1.5 to 2 tons of hay.

In most herds, there are “hay-burners” that should be culled under normal feeding conditions. Under restricted feed conditions, such as drought, culling low producing cows that would take feed from the productive ones would be a profitable practice.

Culling cows would reduce the numbers and total amount of hay needed to get through the winter feeding period. It could also result in a little extra feed for the remaining cows and receipts from marketing of the culls could be use to purchase feed for the remaining herd.

A systematic, constructive approach should be taken in culling cows. Following are some suggestions that would be helpful in making culling decisions:

Cull 0pen cows first

Open beef cows are a liability. They offer no profit potential, only profit reduction. There are no other options except to cull open cows during a feed shortage.