Finding bottle calves

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Meg Z, Nov 24, 2006.

  1. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    In a year or two, we'd like to start raising a pair of calves at a time, partly to rotate grazing behind the sheep with a species that has different parasites, and partly for meat. I'm just now starting the research I need to do this. One of my questions, is where to get calves? I've always heard you could buy bull calves from a dairy, but the few dairies I've been around all raised out those calves as veal, and looked on them as profit. I'm hesitant about an auction calf, and the nearest auction is several hours away, which would make a nice stressful start for an already stressed animal.

    So, where do I look? And, does anyone know how I can find out what the going prices are at any given time?

    Thanks much,
    Meg
     
  2. GREEN_ALIEN

    GREEN_ALIEN Sunny, Wet, Tornadoey SD!

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    A good place to start is to put the word out to all of the dairys and cattlemen in your area. Tell them what you are looking for, offer to pay the going price and give them your number. It is not unusual to lose a cow during calving or to have a set of twins where one does not take etc... Just maybe it will pan out.

    Ted
     

  3. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

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    Check with the local feed dealers early in the spring. Most are on first name friendships with the ranchers and will know if any have orphan calves that need new homes. If they have a bulletin board, post a note. Or run an ad in the farm animals section of the newpaper next spring.

    ETA: If you're wanting freezer meat, I wouldn't invest in a dairy bull calf. Dairy cattle are kind of skinny. Meat cattle will have a lot more weight on them come butchering time.
     
  4. topside1

    topside1 Retired Coastie Supporter

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    Meg, the meat return off a properly raised dairy steer would be 60-65%. This example would be based on raising a large framed Holstein steer. One half of a Holstein can feed a meat loving family of four for a year. Not to bad for a dairy steer. Average slaughter weight roughly 1200-1600 pounds....Now that's a lot of beef!!!! My veiw, Tennessee John
     
  5. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    Duh! I hadn't thought of spreading the word with feed stores! And I got a pointer by IM from a thoughtful person, too.

    As far as dairy vs beef, I was raised on dairy. My parents were homesteaders, and we always raised dairy calves off our milk cows for the table. Lighter weight than the beef cattle, most certainly...but the flavor cannot be beat! When we could, we'd cross the girls with a beef bull, and get the best of both worlds. I'd actually prefer to go that route, but unless I get my own dairy cow, I don't see that happening. And I have no use for that quantity of milk!

    If you have any other ideas on hunting down calves, let me know. I'm taking notes and getting ready! thanks to all who answered here or by pm.

    Meg
     
  6. dezeeuwgoats

    dezeeuwgoats Well-Known Member

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    Just a note: I asked the closest dairy farmer by me about calves and was told $350 for day old bulls, and $600 for day old heifers! These were holsteins. Guess he thought I was dumb 'city folk! Be sure to ask more than one to get an idea of prices in your particular area.

    I picked up two healthy heifer calves from the auction - both weaned. One was a black/white dairy heifer, eight weeks old by her ear tag and the other was a hereford cross. I paid $90 for one and $125 for the other. Pail fed them goat's milk for another couple of months, as well as alfalfa, and rolled corn/barley. Bought 'em in July - still have them both. I just looked for feisty ones at the auction, no messy bottoms, and on the small side, since I knew I had goat's milk for them to drink.

    Niki
     
  7. lyceum

    lyceum Well-Known Member

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    We do the same thing. We have our own calves that our cows can't take care of that we bottle. But this year we only had one, so we bought 2 at the sale barn. One was a Holstein Heifer that we paid $200 for. The other Holstein Heifers in her group brought $500. They were older and weaned. She was not. We had also bought one that was the last of a group left in the ring. He was only 2-3 days old and needed some help. Bottle fed them goat milk and they are great.

    If you go to the sale barn to buy. Look for the feisty, bright eyed calves that come up to you and want to lick you and suck on your hand.

    Lyceum
     
  8. arabian knight

    arabian knight Miniature Horse lover Supporter

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    No that is about the average price for dairy Holsteins like that. That is WHY I buy Jersey Bull Calves. and at 30 bucks for a 4 day old one is not bad. Knowing Holsteins calves are in the 100's of dollars~!!! The same guy told me that a Jersey heifer would be close to 250 to 300. So you see Prices for heifers ARE that high~!
     
  9. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    I can buy Holstein bull here for $75.00 at 3 days old. A dairy calf fed properly will finish out very nicely and make excellent beef.
     
  10. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

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    I didn't mean to insinuate that dairy cattle don't make good meat. It'll cost you the same to feed out a dairy steer as it does to feed out a beef steer, but the beef steer will have more weight when it comes time for it to jump into the freezer. I think the meat breeds have a better feed conversion rate so in the overall, you end up with more meat for the money with a beef breed.
     
  11. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    The last Holstein that I butchered a couple of months ago was 18 months old and had a hanging weight of 750lbs. The slaughter house that I use doesn't have a way to weigh them live, but he was probably 1400-1500 lbs. You're not gonna find a beef breed that'll do much better than that at 18 months.
     
  12. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    Wow! I guess I'll have to do a lot of asking on prices before I make any committment to buy!

    The nearest livestock sale barn is several hours away from here. I guess I'll need to go to several sales before I decide to purchase, so I know what's happening, and how prices run...and to judge the condition of what's brought in. That's if I can't find something local...but it's really not cow country here. I don't know of any local dairies, and the beef cattle I see are just mixed breed, small herds. It's poultry and pigs around here!

    Thanks again.
    Meg
     
  13. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

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    Around here the best time to buy is the last sale before a holiday. Prices are very low. I never sell right before a holiday cause you dang near give it away (not enough buyers to get the prices up.)
     
  14. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    I will most certainly keep that in mind! Thanks!
     
  15. Rockin'B

    Rockin'B Well-Known Member

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    We have three calves that were bought as bottle calves. We have a smaller family run dairy near us that breeds his heifers back to a black baldy bull. I think he wants the smaller calf for the first time heifer.
    These three are great looking calves and should make great beef.

    Maybe you could check around with smaller dairy operations?