Feeder Calves-what to look for?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by savinggrace, Mar 24, 2006.

  1. savinggrace

    savinggrace COO of manure management

    Oct 27, 2005

    I am curious what you look for when selecting calves for meat.

    Available in the area are meat bull calves, dairy bull calves, and dairy/meat cross bull calves. Prices vary greatly!

    What are some benefits to each? What prices are reasonable (for say a 2 wk old calf)

    Thank you!

  2. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

    Nov 28, 2005
    In my area dairy bull calves are running $150 a peice and beef calves around $200. If I had a choice I would go with a beef or beef/dairy cross. You'd get faster gains and more efficient feed conversion with a beef steer vs. a dairy steer. A dairy steer may take longer to finish. There is nothing wrong with raising a dairy steer though. We keep back a few bull calves every year from our dairy herd to raise for beef. Dairy bulls are cheaper to buy and you can get just as good meat. I've gotta say though the bull calves we raise are either Ayrshire or a Normande/Holstien cross. They fatten up alot nicer than a purebred Holstein. As far as what to look for when selecting a calf. Just look for the biggest healthiest one. Make sure they have bright eyes, shiney fur and lots of energy. When we hold back a calf to raise it is usually whoever is born in the right timeframe of when we will need an animal to butcher. If he is a puny runt or sickly we won't keep him.

    Happy Hunting!

  3. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 24, 2003
    100# is the ideal birthwt for bull calves at nearby holstien farm....I bought a 90# for $65 2 years ago....and usually they have weekly auction trucks so if you are buying from farm (better) calf will be at most 6 days....they should be eager to suck, bright eyed and not easily moved when healthy!!! On just goat milk and hay ..both til 6m he was 450- 500#livewt...160# of boneless meat
  4. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    Melissa, It would be rare to find a little beef calf. The cow who had it has no function on the farm for another year, but she is still eating. Holsteins are plentiful, and make good beef. They will outgrow most beef breeds. Also holsteins crossed with beef breeds can be readily found. A holstein big enough to take off bottle would be a safer buy than the little ones because the scours are such a common problem with bottle calves. Avoid dairy calves other than holstein. As for price it would be in the $1.50 per pound range. maybe more.
  5. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

    Dec 7, 2002
    Dysfunction Junction
    Calf should be strong, active and interested in its surroundings. The animal should be able to walk/run normally (shouldn't have knuckled-under hooves, or any hot or swollen joints, a sign of navel ill, bacterial infection that enters via the unbilical cord). A healthy calf will be curious and probably will try to suck on your fingers. A clean calf (not covered in mud and feces) probably comes from a clean farm, always a plus. Look for evidence of scouring (diarrhea) around the back end and hind legs. Check the umbilical cord and surrounding area; it should be dry, not hot, swollen or herniated. If the cord stump has been dipped in iodine (stained dark red), so much the better. If you can talk to the farmer, ask how many feedings of colostrum the calf received (one is OK, 2 is even better yet, none is unacceptable).

    Trust your instincts and if something tells you to pass on a calf, keep looking.