Calves for $1?

Duckfarmerpa1

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So we went to a pretty small, and clean livestock auction today. I’m trying to talk my husband into buying one beef cow to raise for our extended family. Anyways...the calves came out...many were good lookers and went for a decent price. But some, not so much. Surely they had health issues..splayed legs, no suckle reflex, etc. So..is there any use...I know this sounds heartless...but I’m simply curious because many farmers wanted nothing to do with the runts. Is there any use in buying this type of calf to butcher now...or, since it’s still bottle fed, is the meat so good. I realize there’s hardly any meat..but for $1... it might be worth it? I have no clue..I mean if they aren’t healthy to eat and would cost money to get them healthy, then it’s a loss. But we couldn’t understand why they were taking them for $1..or...why a farmer would even bother bring them when they will get so little. I don’t agree with this..but my hubby’s uncle shoots the males because it’s not worth going to auction..this doesn’t make sense to us. Can anyone explain?
 

farmerjan

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Right now the prices on the small calves is pretty bad everywhere. The reason that his uncle will shoot them is because it will cost anywhere from $5 to $15 to sell them.... auction commission costs. So why get a bill for a calf to be sold.

If the calf has not had any antibiotics, they would make very white veal. Is it worth your time to kill it? It would cost you what a goat or sheep would cost to have a butcher kill it.... and to only get the meat off the hind quarters and the shoulders would not be worth a butchers time. If you did it yourself, then maybe. If you got a small one, that had a sucking reflex, then getting it started on milk, and raising it to 2-300 lbs for veal would be worth it. IF you have the milk. Not milk replacer. We have killed a beef calf for veal when it broke it's leg; and one that the cow got mastitis and nearly kicked its head off and after 2 weeks I couldn't get it to take a bottle, it was starting to lose weight, so we just killed it for veal

Farmers will gamble that maybe someone will want them and it will pay them enough to take them rather than dispose of them. Or they had a few bigger ones and just put the smaller one(s) on there hoping it would bring enough to cover commission.

Smaller calves just take longer to grow, to get the size, and then if they don't have the frame the feedlots don't want them. They make good beef if you have plenty of grass and such once they get up to about 5-600 lbs. But it takes too much to get them up there. That is why veal would be a good alternative....if you have extra milk.
 

Baymule

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So I think what @farmerjan is saying.....you need a milk cow! Then you could buy the sickly $1 calves, milk the cow and bottle feed the calves until they could go suckle the cow themselves. You would probably lose a lot of them, poor babies probably haven't even had colostrum and will die without it.
 

Duckfarmerpa1

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Got it..so the hubb was right again since we don’t have the milk..he said the replacement would cost wayyy too much, as I’ve done it with other animals. He can do the butchering..but he said it would be a big waste of time for so little meat..like plucking a duck by hand...Ok, I guess we’ll hold off on cows for now. My Dad keeps buying half a processed cow for my fitness finatic son..costing him a fortune..I want to raise one for him instead. Still shooting a deer a deer would would be the best, but none of them have had much luck, since they sit in the camp and sleep...:lol:
 

MiniSilkys

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Got it..so the hubb was right again since we don’t have the milk..he said the replacement would cost wayyy too much, as I’ve done it with other animals. He can do the butchering..but he said it would be a big waste of time for so little meat..like plucking a duck by hand...Ok, I guess we’ll hold off on cows for now. My Dad keeps buying half a processed cow for my fitness finatic son..costing him a fortune..I want to raise one for him instead. Still shooting a deer a deer would would be the best, but none of them have had much luck, since they sit in the camp and sleep...:lol:
besides too much sleeping, now everyone has to worry about CWD in deer. We are planning to plant field peas and turnips for the feed on our farm to keep them from leaving the area. Maybe if we can keep them away from the areas where there is CWD then maybe they will be ok. We don't even eat them but still want them healthy.
 

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What do you consider "costing a fortune" for the half? Is it that much considering the amount of meat? I figure that it will cost approx $6.00 lb for the actual meat you get. That is the average for all the meat, from ground beef to the best steaks. You aren't going to be saving a whole lot if you don' t eat all the cuts, but the thing is for me knowing where our meat is coming from. I haven't bought beef in probably 30+ years. Although it is not an "out of pocket" expense like if I were just "buying it".... We do figure in the value of the meat if it were sold. That is one of the reasons I eat my jersey steers. The calves aren't worth anything, the steers aren't worth more than $.50-.60 lb at 500+ lbs., so they are best for beef. We have the pasture and one or 2 extras out there eating are not going to make or break us. If we got into a severe drought time, they would be the first to go to butcher regardless of the size. But to buy a good "beef" animal is more than a jersey. The one thing about the jerseys, they take a little longer to grow out than a beef, but they also don't have the fat that a beef animal has. There are trade offs.

A 1200 animal is worth 1.15 lb live weight. Current prices from the "fat stock" sale last week here locally. Figure 50% of that is hanging. Another 50% is actual, in your freezer, meat. Now, that is rough estimates. USDA says that the hanging weight is 60% and another 60% is cut.... but we figure that 50% is good, then anymore than that is a plus. So 1/4 or 25% of actual live weight is meat. That makes that steer worth 3.50-4.00 / lb before you pay the butcher fee which here will run about $250..... or in the neighborhood of close to $1.00 lb, killed, cut, wrapped and frozen.... that is vacuum packed. I don't do any paper wrap anymore because vacuum packed will keep for several years if kept frozen, with no pin holes from moving the frozen packages around in the freezer. So if you get a good 300 lb of actual meat, that is about $1500.... but if you figure that you are going to pay 4.00 lb for good ground beef, or more, then you are getting nearly the value of the meat in ground beef. I wouldn't buy cheap ground beef so would probably spend at least 4-5.00 lb for it. I have no idea what it is bringing now. You will get approx 1/4 to 1/3 of your meat in ground beef and stew meat cuts. Trimmings.... but then you have to figure the difference in what those really nice steaks are worth. I get NY strips, ribeyes, filets, and then get the backbones to use for bbq like ribs, or soup etc. All the sirloins..... plus, I get as many of the bones back that I can.
Believe me, we are not making a killing on a beef in the freezer. We actually will do better selling it as a live weight of 1000 lbs or more and let the buyer do all the rest. Again, you have to figure that it costs us at least $500 (1.50 per day yearly average) per year to keep a beef cow. That's what we need to get out of a weaned calf JUST TO BREAK EVEN. Not counting our labor. It takes 18-24 months to get an animal up to 1000 lbs. So we have nearly 1000 in that animal just to get it to that size. We try to sell feeders in the 500 lb size but with steers only bringing 1.40 lb at that size, we are getting back about 700 . Heifers will bring about 1.20, 600. So if you figure that we are making an average 650 a calf, and 500+ is the cost of keeping the momma cow for the year, then we are making 150 per calf per year. That's not much for our labor. If we sell 100 feeders that is only 15,000 per year. Can you live on that, comfortably, and get ahead? That is not counting any major equipment breakdowns, or purchases. That is TOTAL pay for us.... if you figure out how much actual time we put in over the course of the year.... at the average of 40 hrs per week for 52 weeks, which is ridiculously low, that's less than 8,00 per hour. Especially since you figure we don't work 5 - 8hour days with weekends off. We might only "work" 4-5 hours a day in the winter, but then add in equipment maintenance you are up to at least 50 hours/week in the winter, plus anywhere from 8-14 hour days during the calving/growing/harvesting seasons. 6-7 days a week. It is figured that farmers in general make about $3-4 per hour actual labor wages.

We figure that we need at least $1.75 lb for steers @ 500 lbs., to make a small but fair profit. With the inflation rates, cost of living increases over the past 20 years, we should be getting 2.00 lb or more. LIVE WEIGHT.

Sorry, I didn't mean to carry this on so far. I just was wondering what you felt was too much to pay and wanted you to know that there were alot of costs that the average person doesn't see. If they are getting $8-10 per lb then they are making enough of a profit to be able to operate and make a living.

CWD is in deer here. Have to be careful of making sure they are healthy when you shoot. No guarantees. And planting deer plots is good except that you have no way of knowing if the ones eating are healthy. They travel too much to really be sure of one not being a carrier when it comes through. And the bucks will travel. So I am not sure that the plots are of any real advantage to "keep 'em home". Maybe.
 

Mini Horses

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Thank you FarmerJan!!

One of the reasons I don't do cows. AND I would be a fairly good one to keep a cow & raise a calf per year because I have the pasture to do so. OR bottle a calf as I have so much extra goat milk to use. BUT...not doing. I will raise a lamb or meat goat instead. My goat meat tastes amazingly like beef, IMO. But not a beef steak replacement!! Stews, BBQ, ground, all ok. I just pony up at a sale for a couple nice NY strips. :D

Older I get, the less meat I consume per portion. Veggie garden needs more attention.
 

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@Mini Horses you might want to reconsider when the goats come into milk about raising a couple of bottle calves. They will gain good on goat milk, one of the other milk testers raises calves on her goat milk and says they do real good. I am thinking, and the general overall feeling of some of the buyers, is that cattle prices are going to be better in 2020 and I think a fair amount better in 2021. If you could get a few bottle calves for "cheap" that are healthy, and then sell them in the 400 lb range, you could probably make a little the next couple of years. The trick is to get in just as they go up and not get too stuck in raising them as the prices look to fall. They would do good if your grass is growing good. You also have a longer "growing season" than I do because of the proximity to the coast and warmer temps sooner in the spring and lasting longer in the fall. Aren't your goats due early this spring (late winter) due to someone going "visiting" ? You would have a jump on people that wait for the weather to warm up more.

I am trying to consume more meat/protein as I get older to use as building blocks in my body. The more that I read the more I think that because we often eat less as we get older, we wind up not getting enough protein. So, I have been trying to get more per meal that I eat it and I have noticed that I feel better when I do. Plus it has really helped to curb my cravings lately for higher carb foods. Maybe it is my imagination.
 

MiniSilkys

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What do you consider "costing a fortune" for the half? Is it that much considering the amount of meat? I figure that it will cost approx $6.00 lb for the actual meat you get. That is the average for all the meat, from ground beef to the best steaks. You aren't going to be saving a whole lot if you don' t eat all the cuts, but the thing is for me knowing where our meat is coming from. I haven't bought beef in probably 30+ years. Although it is not an "out of pocket" expense like if I were just "buying it".... We do figure in the value of the meat if it were sold. That is one of the reasons I eat my jersey steers. The calves aren't worth anything, the steers aren't worth more than $.50-.60 lb at 500+ lbs., so they are best for beef. We have the pasture and one or 2 extras out there eating are not going to make or break us. If we got into a severe drought time, they would be the first to go to butcher regardless of the size. But to buy a good "beef" animal is more than a jersey. The one thing about the jerseys, they take a little longer to grow out than a beef, but they also don't have the fat that a beef animal has. There are trade offs.

A 1200 animal is worth 1.15 lb live weight. Current prices from the "fat stock" sale last week here locally. Figure 50% of that is hanging. Another 50% is actual, in your freezer, meat. Now, that is rough estimates. USDA says that the hanging weight is 60% and another 60% is cut.... but we figure that 50% is good, then anymore than that is a plus. So 1/4 or 25% of actual live weight is meat. That makes that steer worth 3.50-4.00 / lb before you pay the butcher fee which here will run about $250..... or in the neighborhood of close to $1.00 lb, killed, cut, wrapped and frozen.... that is vacuum packed. I don't do any paper wrap anymore because vacuum packed will keep for several years if kept frozen, with no pin holes from moving the frozen packages around in the freezer. So if you get a good 300 lb of actual meat, that is about $1500.... but if you figure that you are going to pay 4.00 lb for good ground beef, or more, then you are getting nearly the value of the meat in ground beef. I wouldn't buy cheap ground beef so would probably spend at least 4-5.00 lb for it. I have no idea what it is bringing now. You will get approx 1/4 to 1/3 of your meat in ground beef and stew meat cuts. Trimmings.... but then you have to figure the difference in what those really nice steaks are worth. I get NY strips, ribeyes, filets, and then get the backbones to use for bbq like ribs, or soup etc. All the sirloins..... plus, I get as many of the bones back that I can.
Believe me, we are not making a killing on a beef in the freezer. We actually will do better selling it as a live weight of 1000 lbs or more and let the buyer do all the rest. Again, you have to figure that it costs us at least $500 (1.50 per day yearly average) per year to keep a beef cow. That's what we need to get out of a weaned calf JUST TO BREAK EVEN. Not counting our labor. It takes 18-24 months to get an animal up to 1000 lbs. So we have nearly 1000 in that animal just to get it to that size. We try to sell feeders in the 500 lb size but with steers only bringing 1.40 lb at that size, we are getting back about 700 . Heifers will bring about 1.20, 600. So if you figure that we are making an average 650 a calf, and 500+ is the cost of keeping the momma cow for the year, then we are making 150 per calf per year. That's not much for our labor. If we sell 100 feeders that is only 15,000 per year. Can you live on that, comfortably, and get ahead? That is not counting any major equipment breakdowns, or purchases. That is TOTAL pay for us.... if you figure out how much actual time we put in over the course of the year.... at the average of 40 hrs per week for 52 weeks, which is ridiculously low, that's less than 8,00 per hour. Especially since you figure we don't work 5 - 8hour days with weekends off. We might only "work" 4-5 hours a day in the winter, but then add in equipment maintenance you are up to at least 50 hours/week in the winter, plus anywhere from 8-14 hour days during the calving/growing/harvesting seasons. 6-7 days a week. It is figured that farmers in general make about $3-4 per hour actual labor wages.

We figure that we need at least $1.75 lb for steers @ 500 lbs., to make a small but fair profit. With the inflation rates, cost of living increases over the past 20 years, we should be getting 2.00 lb or more. LIVE WEIGHT.

Sorry, I didn't mean to carry this on so far. I just was wondering what you felt was too much to pay and wanted you to know that there were alot of costs that the average person doesn't see. If they are getting $8-10 per lb then they are making enough of a profit to be able to operate and make a living.

CWD is in deer here. Have to be careful of making sure they are healthy when you shoot. No guarantees. And planting deer plots is good except that you have no way of knowing if the ones eating are healthy. They travel too much to really be sure of one not being a carrier when it comes through. And the bucks will travel. So I am not sure that the plots are of any real advantage to "keep 'em home". Maybe.
The CWD is not in our county, yet. But it is close. Every year we see about 8 deer plus 3-4 littler ones. It seems to be always the same number. We know where they sleep. We have a creek on 2 sides of 40 acres. That is surrounded by soybean, corn, or wheat fields. We hardly ever go to the back woods except to Bush- hog a small area. They have everything they need.
 
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