Bull Market

Prices Hold Strong on Good Genetics

Victoria G Myers
By  Victoria G. Myers , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Bull prices tend to trail feeder calf markets, said Jonathan Perry, manager of Tennessee's Deer Valley Farm. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Victoria G. Myers)

Nearly 500 bulls pass through the sale ring at Tennessee's Deer Valley Farm every year. It's those bull genetics that color every decision Jonathan Perry said they make with the farm's 2,200-cow herd.

Commercial operators are the customers Perry said they focus on, adding they do sell quite a few breeder bulls and have an exclusive agreement with Select Sires Beef, as well. Select Sires is a 50-year provider of semen in both the dairy and beef industries, and North America's largest artificial insemination (AI) organization. It is based in Plain City, Ohio.

"Select Sires guarantee a lease on our Lot 1 bull in the fall," Perry says. "They lease him before he's even sold, so when the buyer wins him, he's already leased by stud, and that is a selling point for the new owner."

Perry said the bull market has been trending down following feeder calf prices, adding it tends to trail about six months behind. He estimates they've seen a 10% to 15% drop in bull prices during the last 12 months. However, Perry said he still considers the bull market to be strong from a historical perspective.

"The most we've ever sold a bull for would be $100,000, and that was for a one-third interest," he said. "Over the last three years, the bull that went to Select Sires has brought over $90,000."

All of the bulls Deer Valley sells come out of the farm's own genetics program. Some are born and raised on customers' farms, but they come back to Deer Valley at weaning for development and to be sold through the program.

Perry said the farm's embryo work has helped move them ahead genetically, with about 50% of calves now the result of an embryo transplant. The farm also markets embryos.

"This technology gives us a way to really propagate the top end of our herd," he explained. They rely on Zoetis' HD 50K test to identify which females they want to flush embryos from. This allows Perry and the farm's customers to evaluate animals for specific traits, determining which will best fit individual programs.


Victoria Myers