For ranchers, selecting the right genetics for their cattle operation is very important for profit.
The mother cow plays an important role and in Billings, there’s a bred cow sale that’s helped ranchers select the right genetics for generations.
According to Ty Thompson, the cattle sale manager for the Combined Competitive Markets in Billings, the sale has a ringtone not only in Montana but across the country.
"People know they can come here and buy high quality genetic," Thompson said. "But not only high-quality genetics but high-quality genetics in volume and that's the ticket."
For over 40 years, the Blue Ribbon Stock Cow and Bred Heifer Sales at the Public Auction Yards in Billings have been a trusted source of high quality bred cattle.
Thompson said that although the weather can impact the sale, some markets continue to flourish.
"One of the driving factors is the calf market continues to increase," he said. "The fed cattle continue to get higher and that's pushing these bred cows pretty good."
In addition, he said there are other things ranchers can do to help their bred cattle bring in more money such as a breeding program.
"Everyone wants to buy cows that are in good condition," Thompson said. "You want to have a shorter calving period. The longer calving periods are getting harder and harder to sell than they used to be."
Consumers are also doing their part at the meat case.
"The demand side of the beef business is very good," Thompson said. "When you can push the beef business from the demand side, that's a lot better than having short supply to have a good market."
A strong cattle market is also good news for our rural communities.
“Ag is such an important part of the economy not only in Montana but our entire region," Thompson said. "When the ranchers are prospering and able to do well, that trickles down to a lot of other businesses. So it’s very nice to see we’re not as high as we were a couple, three years ago, but we’re definitely on the right path and if weather wasn’t hampering us, I think we would be higher yet."
Last week at the Cattle Industry Convention in Phoenix, Cattle-Fax projected the price of bred cattle to range this year between $1200-1800 with the average price $1500 per head during their annual market outlook program for 2018.