Sandy Russell of Spring Creek Land & Cattle Consulting says bred cow prices were considerably stronger in 2010 and she is predicting even stronger prices in the year ahead. In her weekly newsletter called The Bottom Line, Russell says eventually the North American beef herd will stop its contraction and head the other way. One year of positive returns doesn’t offset the losses of the past eight years, but at some point the cow herd has to start rebuilding and she expects that to begin in the latter half of 2011. Russell predicts top end bred cows will hit highs of $1,200 per head in the first quarter of next year, climbing to $1,400 in the second quarter. The third quarter is likely to see some traditional softening for that time of year, but the fourth quarter of 2011 will bounce back again. Russell believes that producers wanting to retain heifers or purchase bred cows or bred heifers have probably missed their cheapest opportunity. To increase their herd, producers will need to either retain heifers that are now significantly higher valued on the feeder market or purchase bred cattle in a much stronger market. I’m Kevin Hursh.