Crazy Idea

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Farmer Kevin

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2005
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I have had luck with raising cattle so far. I am hoping to get bigger and my father has a stantion barn that is not being used. It does not do well with calves in it so it sits empty. The way I am pushing the numbers I could make a pretty good living on raising 75 to 85 calves at a time (600 a year), assuming nothing goes wrong. I have already went through the feed guy about a breakdown of breakeven cost and start-up cost. i was just wondering what everyone thought if i would turn the stancion barn into a little milking operation with 10 cows for waste milk for the calves. i get waste milk from a local dairy right now, but it is not always in supply and the boost in numbers would not allow it to be enough. Wondering what everyone thinks? Is it worth looking into?
Two things I would consider is a private healthy source of calves. I would not like to think of doing this with sale barn calves both for the time it takes to buy them and the probable diseases they would bring to the ones you already have started. The other big item that comes to mind is the housing for the calves. Do you have individual huts or pens? To start they need companionship but they do not need the competition of other calves. This is a high dollar undertaking and it is possible but it will be a 24-7 job so consider that when you are making the decent living. Sounds like you have thought about it a lot so good luck whatever you try.
-The area where the calves will be housed, needs access to an outside pen or they need adequate ventilation with some sort of fresh air exchange. This will prevent chronic lungers.
-Raising bottle calves and milking cows is a "tie down" job. You can not leave the farm for extended periods of time. No days off.
-Sickness is an issue so you need to source calves from a reputable source. They need to pre breed vaccinate the cows, and they need to be on the ball with colostrum intake. Stay away from sale barns.
- you need a good supply of appropriate drugs for pnemonia, scours, general sickness, vet on speed dial, and know how to tube a the very least.

The idea has good merit. I suggest to not go whole hog into it the first year. Start small. See if you like it, and use it as your learning curve. When figuring how many live calves you need at the end of the year, increase your projected losses by 20% for the first year. Because this will be your learning curve year your losses will be heavier.
It is bette to start small, and then increase. This offers a few advantages
- allows you to see if you like it
- reduces the risk to the wise
-gives you that learning curve which you will need
-if you do not like it, not so much to sell off or reduce to gain back the investment made

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