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Raising Holstein feeder calves?  RSS feed

 
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We have a ton of dairy farms around us that sell Holstein weaned calves for about $300-400. Buying breeding stock is out of our budget for 3 years and so I thought that may be a good start. We were thinking about buying about 5 and running them with our sheep (15 ewes + their lambs) until finishing weight then butchering for half and wholes as well as farmers market sales. Has anyone done this with dairy cows? And maybe with success stories? I’m not looking to make big bucks, just experience in cattle with a lower capital and still make some profit. Thanks!
 
steward
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Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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When I lived in Wisconsin, it seemed like Holstein steers were considered "hamburger beef."  I can't say I have any personal experience with it.  I'd be a little concerned that they will require at least some grain to gain weight, since their genetics are developed on being fed more than just grass.

Dairy cattle are not dual purpose - they just don't make good beef.  You might want to get two and plan on eating them yourself, before you sell them to others.  (Two because cattle don't like to be alone.)
 
pollinator
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Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Crossbred calves are much better but hard to find. Dairy farmers used to use Angus or Hereford bulls with their Holstein cows.  These worked great.  The big dairies don’t cross them here, but you might find a small dairy that does.

I don’t know what the prices are like now,  but the dairy calves would have to be a lot cheaper for pure dairy calves to be worthwhile.  Also consider the weight of the animal when pricing them. The dairy calves are likely to be younger and lighter weight.
 
Taylor Cleveland
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Anything other than dairy is going to run about $900.00 here, seems more worth it to buy some heifers in that case. I will look into finding some crosses. I actually have to go down to Mennonite country today so ill ask the guys at the feed store if they know if anyone. Do you think a dairy/meat cross would really be a lot better? Because now Im thinking about just maybe grinding it unto hamburger for market sales at a slightly lower price.

I also own a ready-to-eat meal delivery business and only use ground beef. I could probably use a whole cows worth of hamburger for my business alone, not to mention my family.

Thanks, you have got me thinking/brainstorming.
 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
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Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Crossed is much better, maybe as good as pure beef breeds.

The Holsteins are likely bottle fed and weaned very young. Most likely the beef calves are much heavier, making the price differential a lot less than it might seem.

Amish might have a different breed of dairy cows. There used to be at least one dual purpose breed. I think it was called a Shorthorn. Not sure. They were not common
 
pollinator
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Any idea how old these weaned calves are?  That would probably play a role in profitability.  They should be profitable at any rate (excepting, of course, massive death losses, which is unlikely but happens), the question is just how profitable.

But if you've got $1500 or more to spend, you might consider buying a bred heifer of one sort or another, which ought to be doable for around $1000.  When she calves, buy another newborn (week-old-ish) calf (maybe $200) and graft him onto the new mama.  In about three months have her bred back.  You've only got at most two calves for butcher (one, if the heifer's own calf was a heifer and you decide to keep her), but you've also got a leg up with the start of a breeding herd.
 
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