In all over the world, cows are popular cattle that are chosen by many farmers for various purposes. They are not only friendly but productive as well. Cows are highly beneficial if raised correctly. But, how much does a cow cost? And what do you have to prepare for a cow farm?
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What to consider when buying a cow?
1. Land and food for the cows
Before finding out “How much does a cow cost?”, the first thing that needs checking out is how large your land is. It is advised that you should have at least an acre or two for having cows. The amount of acre can be adjusted following your annual plan of hay feeding. A cow is known to feed on 2-5 acres of pasture in a year.
Also, a large sunny field with grass and legumes throughout the year is the best quality and the most ideal environment for your cows, which means you can have an economical plan for your investment.
It is because the additional food cost such as dry hay or minerals is quite pricey. The hay price may vary in a year depending on the season and the delivery fee as well. Minerals are optional giving to the main diet.
In case you purchase a property from somebody else, make sure that you check the fencing quality as this is for your cow protection and safety.
2. The annual cost to maintain a cow
The major cost of cows per year is related to their feed and care. Normally, it costs from $550 to $1,000 to give cows good care and adequate nutrients throughout a year. The way to reduce this amount is to produce the feeding to your cow on your own or to have a larger pasture.
The daily portion of a beef cow is generally between 30-40 lbs. of hay, while a dairy cow needs around 100 lbs. of food per day. If you have to pay for hay most of the time, it will cost approximately $1,000 per year. Otherwise, you could save from $700-800 by using your source of feeding.
Other factors that need to be considered as well are regular medical checkups, minerals, and supplements, or breeding costs.
3. Purpose of raising cows
Before coming up with any business plan, it is important to define the main purpose of your business or to set goals. The same thing happens when you would like to invest in cows. You will need to devise a careful plan and see what can bring you the highest profit.
You have to ask yourself what you would like to do with your business. Would you like to have a cow for meat or milk? Or would you like to invest in cows for calves? Or would you like to expand your business to a wholesale supplier of cows? Or would you just simply have a cow for your family?
For different purposes, you have to pay attention to various factors. For example, if your business is small or you want a cow for your family, an economical choice is the breed that can produce both meat and milk. Or if you’d like to make a huge investment into the market, you will need to consider the shelter, the vet care cost, the workforce salary, and which age of cows to buy for the maximum benefit of your business.
4. Cow quality
In advance of your investment, equip yourself with good knowledge of cows. Choosing good cows at the beginning is important as those cows play a crucial role in your products later on.
Below are some characteristics you can look into to see if it’s healthy cattle or not:
- Eyes: should be bright and clear, without any mucus discharge around.
- Nose: shouldn’t be runny or snotty. A little moisture on the nose is fine.
- Breath: should be normal. If a cow breath normally and calmly, it is a good signal.
- Coat: should be smooth. It may get thicker in winter, but a cow shouldn’t have any strange spots on its hair.
- Udder: The best one should have 4 quarters similar in size.
- Full body: should be muscled, especially in shoulders and legs. A cow should be able to walk normally and smoothly, with good balance, and its back should be straight. Dairy cows may look slimmer than beef cows generally.
Tip: Besides those characteristics mentioned above, you are recommended to have a look and feel a cow by yourself. It means that a good cow may show its interest in you calmly and gently.
In contrast, some cows may show their nerves when someone is visiting or tend to get crazily distracted. You wouldn’t like to have those cows on your farm.
5. Price of a cow
How much does a cow cost? Well, the price of a mature cow must differ from one of a baby bow, a calf, or a yearling. The price of a cow is defined based on its weight, its gender, or its breed.
Sometimes, the age of a cow also matters as younger cows will be more beneficial because they can give birth to more calves.
Moreover, your purpose of having a cow is an important point to consider the price as a beef cow is not the same as a dairy cow. In the next section, let’s see how the price varies depending on the cow types.
How much does a cow cost?
The price range of a cow is normally between $2,000 and $5,000, and for a yearling, it is around $800 to $1,500.
1. Price of a calf
The cost of a calf is determined by its age and its size. A day-old calf is often around $35 to $50, and it demands a lot of care. When a cow reaches 4-6 months or older, it becomes more stable, and the price, because of that, is higher.
A beef yearling is priced from $650 to $750, while a dairy yearling is at a lower price of between $450 and $600. The price of older calves is $800 to $900, depending on their weight.
2. Price of a beef cow
A bred heifer (a pregnant cow with her first calf) costs $1,300 on average, while you can choose to buy a heifer calf combination at a more cost-effective price – $2,000. For a full-grown cow, the price range is from $4,000 to $5,000.
3. Price of a dairy cow
A dairy cow costs between $900 and $3,000. Calves or yearlings are sold at a much lower price than mature cows. By the way, a cow that has been manually or directly taken care of by its owner will be more expensive as they tend to be more friendly to people.
If a cow is sold by weight, it will be around $1.05 to $1.35 per pound. A heifer is worth between $500 and $1,000, and the price of a dairy cow in the period of feeding milk to its baby is higher, between $1,500 and $2,100.
Fun fact: The cow at the highest price recorded until now was sold at $1.2 million at an auction in Toronto in 2009. The name is Missy, and it was a Holstein cow from Ponoka Morsan Farm in Alberta, the place famous for its first-class milk.
What are the best cow breeds to raise?
In terms of beef cows, the most popular in the U.S. is Black Angus. Nevertheless, it is not the only choice of a cow (check my list of best beef cattle for a small farm here). You can have a look at the table below for more reference.
|Have beautifully marbled meat
Require little maintenance
|Heavier; The coat gets thicker in winter
|Get mature at a young age
Acquire great ability to fatten
Good personality, good milk producers
|Marbled meat; Nice and friendly
|Encounter no difficulty during calving season
Great fattening ability
|Have horns; Strong cows
|Thick coat; Marbled meat
High resistance to cold climate
For dairy cows, there are also different types recommended below.
|Gentle; One of the oldest sorts of dairy cows
|Smaller cows; Can also used for meat
|Get mature at a young age; Acquire great ability to fatten
Good personality; Good milk producers
|The popular choice of cows; Great meat quality also
|Smaller cow; a Higher level of mil
Where to buy a cow?
If you are really into cows, first, take your time to compare the cow price in your area. When you have the idea of the average cost that you should spend, you are ready.
Second, find a good supplier. Local farmers may be the first people you would like to approach. They are experienced and may offer a lower price than in the market.
Also, nowadays, you can make your order and buy a cow online. Some webpages for your reference are:
After all, to invest in cows, it is highly recommended that you prepare the necessary knowledge for yourself. Cows are important, however, before asking “how much does a cow cost?”, you have a lot of other questions related to the land, the budget, or the annual maintenance cost to answer. Make a clear plan, and get ready for your adventure.