Keep hiefers or buy bred cows?

Help Support CattleToday:


Dumb Old Farmer
Jan 2, 2004
Reaction score
Wanting to grow my herd more and try to increase income. Got a couple nice hiefer calves that I thought about keeping, but it just takes so long to get any return on them.. I know if I keep them I know what I have, but money wise do you feel its better to sell them and buy bred cows to get a quicker turn around?
It depends on the individual situation. Bred cows are so high right now that it would take a lot of years to have them be profitable.
I'm not too great with the math, but we've alwasy figured a calf is worth $500 on averqage. In todays market that's way low, but in some years it's way high, so we just work from the average. I don't know the actual dollars in forage, vaccination, supplements, minerals, water if you have to pump it, depreciation and all those other variables. But the figures I've seen claim that a cow cost $325-350 a year. So at the best with those figures you have to figure $1500 profit a year, and the studies actaully show it's more like $75-100. Bred cows around here are going in the $900-1200 range. That works out to around 6 years, maybe a little less because of salvage values, before a cow has paid for herself. Now in my book, that's a long time for an investment to pay for itself. I'm talking commercial cows, if you're doing registered stuff you might hit the jackpot with a bull or a heifer that brings in some big bucks. But you can't plan on that, plus that really good registered cow will cost you more upfront to get in your pasture.

There probably are times when it would pay better to sell your heifer calves and buy other cows, I always keep a few heifers every year for replacements, the main reason being that I'm trying to keep a closed with less chance of dragging problems in from outside, The only outside cattle I buy in are new bulls every 2 or 3 years and I always try to buy private from good farms
If you have plenty of grass and land then keep your heifers. If you are looking to increase the size of your herd quickly then sell the heifer and buy bred cows or pairs. If you can spare the money and grass do both. Keep your heifers and buy bred cows.
Our heifers that are equal to or better than their parents are kept for breeding as well as listed for sale to others. Bulls that are equal to or better than their parents are kept for our breeding stock and/or offered for sale to other breeders, or kept for lease out bulls. Ones that don't match up to our breeding standards but otherwise are good bulls are sold (or an occasional one we don't want to put back into the breeding chain are eaten).

We've had more than one registered cow that has paid for herself in one to three years with sales of their calves.

Like Dun said, any "good" or better calf is worth at least $500 on the average.

Latest posts