Man, what a difference location makes! :shock:
I was at the sale on Friday (Erath County Dairy Sales, Stephenville, Texas) and the price of babies has fallen drastically over the last month.
I saw one bull calf bring over $100 ($110 and he was an exceptional black calf), with the majority of good Holstein calves struggling to fetch $75. Smaller Holsteins and Crosses never hit the $50 mark. Jersey bull calves brought less than $20...Holstein heifers that were bringing $600-$700 a few months ago barely hit the $400 mark.
As to raising the babies...we always figure it will take one 50lb bag of milk replacer per calf. The last bag of milk replacer I bought was $49, but I have not bought any in a few months and the price does fluctuate. We feed milk until the calf is eating 2-3 lbs of starter-grower per day and as with all live animals, this varies with each calf...some take to grain quickly and wean very well, some seem to depend upon the bottle and all but refuse to eat the feed for weeks after others have given it up. We never keep babies together! If one scours, the rest will be infected before you can remove him from the group.
If these calves have been properly cared for and had colostrum then you are way ahead of the game, as many of the sale barn babies arrived without this benefit...I have actually witnessed a baby born about an hour before the auction in the pen in the back and run through the ring and sold...
We have three auctions a week here and see anywhere from 200 to 400 babies go through the ring, so you can imagine the number of people raising calves in this area. What I can tell you from visiting with everyone at the sale barn, I have heard all kinds of theories on raising babies. :lol:
If you take them...Good luck. Let us know how it goes.