With bull selling season in full swing, ranchers are buying more bulls and heifers to build up their herds and capitalize on current conditions in the beef market. At the retail level, supply is low and customer demand is high, which is driving prices to levels many ranchers have never seen.
Cow-calf operators booked record profits in 2014, when they received $2.20 to $3 per pound for their calves. That meant calves that sold for $600 or $700 just a few years ago sold for $1,400 to $1,700 last year.
Those prices, coupled with low fuel prices and reasonable hay and grain prices, have helped profit margins for ranchers, who in 2012 were reducing their herds after several years of drought.