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  #1  
Old 04/11/10, 06:48 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Wintersville, OH
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Raising jersey calves...profitable?

I have an opportunity to get jersey bull calves for free. Before I jump in with both feet, can raise them profitably?
What I would like to do is raise 2 for beef and raise 2 to sell, hoping that the 2 sold will pay for the milk put into all 4. I would have to buy the milk replacer this year. The dairy I would get the calves from said they would sell me a cross bred heifer for cheap so in 2 years I can use her milk to assist in raising the calves.
I was thinking of raising 2 for sale at around 4-5 months. I have pasture, so could feed them while the grass is good and sell before winter. Thoughts?

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Old 04/11/10, 07:41 PM
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The only way I can see you making this profitable is if it's totally grass-based after you get them off the bottle and you have a lot of grass. At 4-5 months old, a jersey steer will not be near big enough to think about slaughter though. I see them on craigslist all the time at or near 150lbs. and folks are asking $200 each for them. That's over $1.00 per pound! Most dairy calves sale for significantly less than beef prices.

That being said, if you have a lot of grass and enough time factored in to keep them until they are 16 months old, (ready for slaughter on grass) you can turn a profit. But just don't expect to get rich at it.

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Old 04/11/10, 08:52 PM
 
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I don't plan on slaughter at that age. That indeed will have to weight til 1 yr +. The ones I slaughter will be much older. I was looking at SELLING those that I plan on selling at that age. I just want to be able to pay for the milk and a little feed, from those that I sell.

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Old 04/11/10, 08:58 PM
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You have to check out your local market. A 6 month old Jersey steer here would be doing well to sell for $50. Newborns get knocked on the head (sell for $5, - $10 commission, - trucking)

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  #5  
Old 04/12/10, 12:19 AM
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Last year I sold them at 3-4 weeks old, once the scours was long gone. These were auction calves. Private people were glad to pay $100 each for them. Some people want the calf but are glad to pay once they know it wont die from the wind blowing. I probably sold 8 at this price, then the market dried up because they only sell well in spring.
I invested in a milkbar, MR, a packet of electrolights, and a bottle of nuflor but still made a good profit.

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Old 04/12/10, 05:33 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by francismilker View Post
The only way I can see you making this profitable is if it's totally grass-based after you get them off the bottle and you have a lot of grass. At 4-5 months old, a jersey steer will not be near big enough to think about slaughter though. I see them on craigslist all the time at or near 150lbs. and folks are asking $200 each for them. That's over $1.00 per pound! Most dairy calves sale for significantly less than beef prices.

That being said, if you have a lot of grass and enough time factored in to keep them until they are 16 months old, (ready for slaughter on grass) you can turn a profit. But just don't expect to get rich at it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaleK View Post
You have to check out your local market. A 6 month old Jersey steer here would be doing well to sell for $50. Newborns get knocked on the head (sell for $5, - $10 commission, - trucking)
I think that pretty well sums it up over here too. I could rear as many Jersey calves as I wished because they are being knocked on the head. I do rear some now and again but they are fully grass fed and I milk my own cows so rearing costs are minimal. I have the land to finish them but they take longer to grow out and have a smaller carcass - there is no doubt that I would be better rearing dairy/beef or Friesian rather than Jersey in terms of return.

Whether the two that you sell will cover the costs of all four is something your going to have to do your homework on as it would seem to differ from area to area - watch the sale prices. At the moment I would expect to get $150.00 - $200.00 for 4-5 month well grown Jersey weaners. If I had fed them CMR and starter meal, that would barely cover their rearing costs.

On the other hand, I prefer Jersey for my freezer and if you take a couple through for yourself, you will still have cheap, good quality meat in the freezer - providing you are grass feeding rather than grain.

Cheers,
Ronnie
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  #7  
Old 04/12/10, 05:41 AM
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: So/West Missouri
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We raise bottle calfs mostly holstein, the highest price we ever received on jersey calfs was after they were off bottle. Your best bet is farm direct purchase, if they are free and your careful the milk replacer is your largest investment. As posted before you can make a profit but you won't get rich. I wish we could get them free or for $10-$25 I would go for it.
Glenn

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Old 04/12/10, 07:04 AM
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Will you have your own hay? How much pasture? I have 2 yearling calves. A jersey steer and a jerseyxholstein heifer. I don't want to think what it has cost me to get them to this age. It has NOT been cost effective for me, but that is not really what I am after. The steer can go to the freezer as soon as the pasture dries up this summer. I bought him for $25 off a truck full of jersey calves. I put one bag ($54) of MR in him. I feed him grain - not much- just starting to up it a bit. I am also feeding him a bit of corn now. Hay was the problem. We had a drought last year. I didn't have enough hay and neither did most other people around. What was available was not good hay. I had to start feeding earlier than usual due to the lack of pasture. If I had to buy ALL my hay, it would cost around $500 for the one calf. I fed on average about 1/2 a bale a day per calf. Now they would eat a lot more than that.

Would I do it again- yes. I am after meat I can control. Would I do it as a business? No. There might possibly be that market you are looking for with people looking for weaned calves. But if you mark your price up too high so you make a profit, they are likely to figure they will just bottle feed themselves. I would sell them ahead of buying them.

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  #9  
Old 04/12/10, 07:05 AM
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Make sure they've all had their first feeding of colostrum. They might not make it otherwise. My neighbor learned that lesson the hard way. He picked up 6 Jersey day olds for $10 bucks each only to have them all die within three weeks. He had expenses for milk replacer and medicines, electrolytes, vet bill etc trying to save them.

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  #10  
Old 04/12/10, 07:49 AM
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I have to give my two cents worth here being a Jersey breeder, we have registered stock here not that means much , just what we want. Ok, make sure you get calves that are at least three days old(for colostrum reasons) and right from the farm(health reasons), and take them home and "don`t kill them with kindness" jersey calves are smaller and most people over feed them milk. I feed my calves real milk, no replacer for me, but I also have the cows. I might loose one calf a year, and it is never from scours. If you want to sell two calves to pay for the milk it may work, it may not don`t plan on it. You won`t ever make it pencil out buying all your feed and butchering a calf, but you at least know what you have then. Francis is right , if you have a lot of grass it is cheap feed, and it will more than likely take you 16 to 18 months to feed one out on grass. I myself like to feed grain to mine , so you do what you need to. You will never be sorry you feed out a jersey as they are great locker calves at the smaller size, the meat cuts are smaller and just right for your serving portions. I have no idea why holstiens bring more than a jersey at a sale barn, holstiens eat so much more, and are such large animals. My vote will always be for a jersey, not that I`m biased or anything. So there you go, get your calves, and have fun with them. Need anymore help let me know, I love helping people with jersey`s. Thanks Marc

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Last edited by springvalley; 04/12/10 at 07:51 AM. Reason: sp
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  #11  
Old 04/12/10, 07:42 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Wintersville, OH
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Thanks for all your input. I am going to try it this year and see what happens. I raised 3 holstein calves last year and will butcher them this Nov when the grass runs out. (they'll be 16 mo) I like to know where my food comes from, its inputs and that it was treated humanely. So we'll see what results I get with the jerseys.

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  #12  
Old 04/13/10, 12:47 AM
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If you could dmake a decent profit off jersey bull calves you wouldn't be getting them for free.

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  #13  
Old 04/13/10, 07:37 AM
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I've raised roughly 60 calves over the past five years, made profit on all 60. The problem was the profit didn't justify the work, stress, or did I mention the work. Anyway yes I made profit, however you have two types of customers. Customer #1 is a well read, savy customer with minimal monies. Or customer #1 just likes to visit farms hang out and talk your ear off and purchase nothing. Customer #2 is clueless and holds plenty of money. Personally I admire customer #1, but I love customer #2. If you live in a #2 area money can be made in a small operation. Not much but some....Topside

Quick example: My first eight calves were holsteins to learn on were holstein steers. At the time they were selling for $1.22 per pound at auction @ a weight of 300-400. Dig up your local market report for your area....Quite a shocker. That's just an example, so good luck.

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Last edited by topside1; 04/13/10 at 07:43 AM.
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