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How much does it cost to raise cattle for milk and meat purposes?

by cattlefarmer on August 22, 2009

bthomas_tbs asked:


I’m looking to get into this investment, and I want some advice on how it works. I also wonder if I can buy the animals and store them at a farm (not owned by me) and still make a profit.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

David W August 23, 2009 at 10:15 pm

I feel that you have missed the point when you say that you will store the animals. You don’t store animals, they need to be checked at least once every day, and provided with feed, clean water and a clean place to sleep. You also have to organise veterinary care when needed. Your cattle holding has to be approved and registered. Yes beef prices are good right now but its still difficult to make a profit.

donfletcheryh August 25, 2009 at 11:53 pm

It is almost impossible to make money on dairy cattle without being there to look after them at least twice a day. Now that does not directly speak to who owns the farm, it is just that dairy farming is among the industries that most urgently require your presence every day, 365.25 days per year.
You can minimize your investment by buying a group of second yearling cows ready to breed for dairy cows. Depending on your long term strategy this can be an investment of $500,000. You might start with $100,000. Much below that amount may not be an economic operation. But for a person asking this question, it would likely be better to start with a farm operation that is too small. You will have some costly learning to do.

If you are discussing meat purposes, you may have to decide whether you want to be in ranching or farming, whether you want a large investment in real estate to provide food or a small feedlot where you will feed supplies you have bought. You will need to decide whether to be a cow-calf operation or a beef finishing operation.
Finally you will need to decide whether you will be a dry land farmer or use irrigation. Far too many unknowns here for a simple answer.

Bob B August 26, 2009 at 12:35 am

It costs somewhere, in general, between $12.50 and $15.00 per hundred pounds of milk produced. You can sell that milk, in general, for between $11.00 and $22.00 per hundred pounds, depending on market conditions. .

sarah s August 27, 2009 at 11:23 am

To raise a heifer from birth until she’s ready to freshen ( calve) around here ( northern Ca) most farmers figure it costs about $1200 to $1500

LoveMoo11 August 27, 2009 at 11:31 am

Anyone who says they are making a profit in the dairy business right now is lying. Farming is a big committment, its not just something you can do for fun unless you have a ton of money laying around. It is a big investment, you need equipment, animals, feed, a milking system, buildings, electricity, land….The animals always have to come first before your own needs and often you are tied to the farm because something unexpected may come up. Cows have to be milked 2x a day everyday, even on holidays so you have to be prepared to do that.
If you are just raising beef it is much easier but you still have to put your animals first. A lot of beef critters do just fine on pasture. But, you must have a good fence and it may be more difficult to get your animals bred because if they are running around in a pasture they are harder to work with and keep any eye on.

butch August 29, 2009 at 8:43 am

depends where you live but currently the farmers are being paid much less per hundred than it is to produce the milk.

sergio gonzalez December 28, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Hello
I’m going to school for my business degree. I want to have my own business some day and I need some advice from someone in the business. I want to own a dairy farm. I kow the basics about cattle but not enough to run a business just yet. Besides the principal, what are the things that I need to be concerned about? I would like to start with 50 heads. I live in Southern California.

Shelly January 31, 2012 at 7:38 am

Thinking of getting a couple of calves to raise for either breeding, or processing.
Will have 24 acres; 1 acre for the home the rest fenced for the cattle. How many cows (1 bull) can I put on 23 acres? Not really looking to make a whole lot of money, but would like to do more than break even care/feed/vet VS sales.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Oh, this little farm is in Gainesville, Fl. Thanks, God Bless

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