New Venture Ideas

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farmerjan
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Re: New Venture Ideas

Post by farmerjan » Thu Dec 27, 2018 7:10 pm

The tip I can give you on purchasing bottle calves from the sale barn......DON'T. Find a dairy that you can buy their calves directly. Pay them a fair price to make sure they have had colostrum, are at least 24-48 hours old. Don't skimp or you will be burying as many as you raise.

As for finding beef bottle calves. They will be few and far between; why would a farmer pull a beef calf off a cow unless she doesn't have milk, or prolapses, dies, or has some other problem.

Several dairies in this area are breeding the lower end of their cows to beef bulls to try to get a little more value out of the calves. Ask around and see if anyone is doing that.

I have jersey and jer x hol nurse cows. If you are planning to try to raise 3 bunches , then you had better plan on a fair amount of grain to keep the cows in production. Holsteins do not do very good on just grass, unless you are a very good manager of rotational grazing with some very exceptional grass. I have been raising calves on nurse cows for 30+ years. The baby calf market here is terrible, they are bringing $5 to $50. Holstein feeders in the 4-6 wt range are only worth $.50 lb on average. There is no market for them here. The hol x angus feeders are not bringing $1.00 lb in the 4-5 wts. The beef feeder market here has also tanked. Most are in the .80's for heifers and 1.25 +/- for steers in the 4-6 wts.
There was a bred heifer sale recently. Due to calve in the spring, weighed an average 1,000 lbs.... they brought $700 to $800 a head.
I have turned my nurse cows out with their calves. They will raise one batch of 3 each average this year. Not worth the extra grain. I am creep feeding the calves in a manner. They come in through a creep gate and I feed them some grain so they can get some away from the cows. Not alot, but it makes them easier to catch up and handle. They see me and come in rather than run the other way; makes doing anything with them less stressful. They also get some decent grass hay in the manger in the barn so can eat in peace. Teaches them to be "bunk broke" and used to people around them.
Realize something also. Not alot of cows will make good nurse cows. For every good one, you might go through 2 or 3 or 5. Some are "born to be momma's" and some are absolute witches to get to take anything but their own calf. If you have to fight them, and they want to fight the calf, the calves won't do good. Nurse cows take a whole different mindset. My son will tell you because he is the first one to say he will NEVER deal with nurse cows. That's my job... Patience takes on a whole new meaning.... Many cows off a commercial dairy also do not do good because they often have never had a calf on them. The instinct has been bred out of alot of them over the years. I have 5 now, and one will leave when her calf does. I have fought with her for 2 previous lactations and am done. One is a peach and will take anything.... the others do okay.



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Re: New Venture Ideas

Post by AggieStudent20 » Thu Dec 27, 2018 8:10 pm

farmerjan wrote:The tip I can give you on purchasing bottle calves from the sale barn......DON'T. Find a dairy that you can buy their calves directly. Pay them a fair price to make sure they have had colostrum, are at least 24-48 hours old. Don't skimp or you will be burying as many as you raise.

As for finding beef bottle calves. They will be few and far between; why would a farmer pull a beef calf off a cow unless she doesn't have milk, or prolapses, dies, or has some other problem.

Several dairies in this area are breeding the lower end of their cows to beef bulls to try to get a little more value out of the calves. Ask around and see if anyone is doing that.

I have jersey and jer x hol nurse cows. If you are planning to try to raise 3 bunches , then you had better plan on a fair amount of grain to keep the cows in production. Holsteins do not do very good on just grass, unless you are a very good manager of rotational grazing with some very exceptional grass. I have been raising calves on nurse cows for 30+ years. The baby calf market here is terrible, they are bringing $5 to $50. Holstein feeders in the 4-6 wt range are only worth $.50 lb on average. There is no market for them here. The hol x angus feeders are not bringing $1.00 lb in the 4-5 wts. The beef feeder market here has also tanked. Most are in the .80's for heifers and 1.25 +/- for steers in the 4-6 wts.
There was a bred heifer sale recently. Due to calve in the spring, weighed an average 1,000 lbs.... they brought $700 to $800 a head.
I have turned my nurse cows out with their calves. They will raise one batch of 3 each average this year. Not worth the extra grain. I am creep feeding the calves in a manner. They come in through a creep gate and I feed them some grain so they can get some away from the cows. Not alot, but it makes them easier to catch up and handle. They see me and come in rather than run the other way; makes doing anything with them less stressful. They also get some decent grass hay in the manger in the barn so can eat in peace. Teaches them to be "bunk broke" and used to people around them.
Realize something also. Not alot of cows will make good nurse cows. For every good one, you might go through 2 or 3 or 5. Some are "born to be momma's" and some are absolute witches to get to take anything but their own calf. If you have to fight them, and they want to fight the calf, the calves won't do good. Nurse cows take a whole different mindset. My son will tell you because he is the first one to say he will NEVER deal with nurse cows. That's my job... Patience takes on a whole new meaning.... Many cows off a commercial dairy also do not do good because they often have never had a calf on them. The instinct has been bred out of alot of them over the years. I have 5 now, and one will leave when her calf does. I have fought with her for 2 previous lactations and am done. One is a peach and will take anything.... the others do okay.


Thank you for the detailed comment. The feeder calf market where I'm at isn't that bad but we just pulled out of one similar. Heifers gong for under a dollar a pound were not uncommon about two years ago back home. I'll probably be doing a majority of dairy bull calves if I do this; this is why I also want to pair it with stocking light calves to help with cash flow. Rotational grazing will be my top priority. Bottle Calves seem to fluctuate where I'm at. Most people pull at least one twin off the cow where I'm at if they have them. I'd like to pick them up for the right price if possible.

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Re: New Venture Ideas

Post by jschoolcraft86 » Mon Dec 31, 2018 8:10 am

Are you familiar with embryo recip programs? It’s more labor intensive and you need to know about embryo transfers or know someone who does, but it seems promising. I dipped my toe in with 10 head this fall just to see how it worked and I am about to move another 25 head into the program shortly. Like I said before it is definitely more involved, but I’m able to invoice in thirds (60 days confirmed bred, at live birth, and at 4 months when they come get the calves) and each 1/3 brings about 100 less than the full sale price of the commercial calves before.

I’m not experienced enough with the program to swear by it but it definitely seems promising to me so far.

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Re: New Venture Ideas

Post by Dirt Farmer » Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:58 am

Two things come to mind for me. As with any investment, diversity is a good thing. With work, do what you enjoy. I’d put pencil to paper and try out multiple things to see what works best financially and what you like. It also just depends on input and cattle prices.

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Re: New Venture Ideas

Post by cowboy43 » Wed Jan 02, 2019 8:32 am

After reading all comments my first thought is: how will you make a living to pay your bills, you will have to have an outside job to pay your living cost and be prepared to put some of your outside income into your farming operation. If you get married that a whole new ball game. All ventures mentioned are labor intensive and demanding. Cow- calf operation is the only one that will let you work off the farm. In all reality with a 500 head cow operation you will be lucky to make minumin wage or a little more.
500 head with a $50 profit per head = $25000 profit per year. Do not give up your dream but get an good paying outside job and start off small and learn by making mistakes . I do not know anyone in the cattle business (unless they inherited it all or were born with a silver spoon in their mouth) that does not have an outside job to support their addicition to ranching. :cboy: my :2cents:

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