Calf rearing

Swaley

Member
Livestock Farmer
Hello all,
Would like to ask you all what your thoughts on calf rearing are, such as what breed of calf e.g. beef x dairy and heifers or bulls. When would you sell them finished or store. Can a angus cross or hereford cross be a good grass fed store. And where can a profit be made.
Many thanks all.
 

Damo7530

New Member
We buy in off farm at 2-3 week old, mainly angus and blue's but some b/w bulls, on average we sell at 6months, we make enough to make it worth doing, you don't need expensive cmr either, a good whey powder is plenty enough you also get better concentrate intakes earlier on whey powers too
 

HarryB97

Member
Avoid bulls there is no market for them, you will sell heifers and steers all day long. Breed doesn't matter to much it depends on your system and budget. Blues are overpriced for what they are but will get heavier than native crosses and there are lots about now due to sexed semen. Angus are also over priced as the Angus schemes are not up to much anymore as they have pulled back the bonus, most will never be an R grade or will be to old or to light if they are heifers. Store or finish depends on your situation and cash flow needs etc. We sell most of ours as stores but plan to have a go at finishing some next year. A profit can be made at most stages as long as the beef price is reasonable and you are good at the job. We mainly buy a mix of hereford & angus x heifers and steers at 2-4 weeks old and sell them as 500kg stores at 13-15 months old. The natives do really well on top quality silage and finish incredibly easy without the need for an epensive finishing ration. The heifers especially can get over fat very easily and you will never get the weight on them compared to a continental but they spend much less time on farm, eat less and you can have more head for the same amount of feed. There's no right or wrong answer, I would start with cheaper breeds or heifers initially and sell as stores to keep it lower risk and easier and go from there.
 

Swaley

Member
Livestock Farmer
Avoid bulls there is no market for them, you will sell heifers and steers all day long. Breed doesn't matter to much it depends on your system and budget. Blues are overpriced for what they are but will get heavier than native crosses and there are lots about now due to sexed semen. Angus are also over priced as the Angus schemes are not up to much anymore as they have pulled back the bonus, most will never be an R grade or will be to old or to light if they are heifers. Store or finish depends on your situation and cash flow needs etc. We sell most of ours as stores but plan to have a go at finishing some next year. A profit can be made at most stages as long as the beef price is reasonable and you are good at the job. We mainly buy a mix of hereford & angus x heifers and steers at 2-4 weeks old and sell them as 500kg stores at 13-15 months old. The natives do really well on top quality silage and finish incredibly easy without the need for an epensive finishing ration. The heifers especially can get over fat very easily and you will never get the weight on them compared to a continental but they spend much less time on farm, eat less and you can have more head for the same amount of feed. There's no right or wrong answer, I would start with cheaper breeds or heifers initially and sell as stores to keep it lower risk and easier and go from there.
Do the Hereford and the Angus get much concentrate feed aswell as grass may a I ask.
Many thanks
 
We buy calves in at around 3/4 weeks old. Mainly Blues and Lims. All bulls are castrated. We sell all finished between 16 and 22 months. We do push ours quite hard on the feeding side but as said above theres no right or wrong way.
 

Anymulewilldo

Member
Livestock Farmer
We buy top end B&W bulls 2-6 weeks old. Keep entire. Milk powder and good calf mix until 9 weeks. Good calf mix until 12 weeks then integrate barley into mix at 16%CP. keep that up to 6/7 months then drop too 13/14%CP barley blend. Clean straw at all times too eat. Minimal silage just to aid gut function. Aim too have all finished and gone by 14months. Never turn out, constantly making muck too spread back on the grazing ground for breeding sheep and sucklers.
 
We buy top end B&W bulls 2-6 weeks old. Keep entire. Milk powder and good calf mix until 9 weeks. Good calf mix until 12 weeks then integrate barley into mix at 16%CP. keep that up to 6/7 months then drop too 13/14%CP barley blend. Clean straw at all times too eat. Minimal silage just to aid gut function. Aim too have all finished and gone by 14months. Never turn out, constantly making muck too spread back on the grazing ground for breeding sheep and sucklers.
How does the economics of these stack up? You make it sound so simple I began to wonder why more people don't do it?
 

Anymulewilldo

Member
Livestock Farmer
How does the economics of these stack up? You make it sound so simple I began to wonder why more people don't do it?
Get the wrong type of bull calves, it doesn’t work
Bull calves too dear, it doesn’t work
Get bad pneumonia in the young calves, end up with a batch of bad doers, it doesn’t work
Corn price goes through the roof, it doesn’t work
Try and skimp on feed quality at ANY point of the process, it doesn’t work.
Can’t mix pens after 6 months (learnt that the hard way)

A lot of people don’t like b&w bulls because too put it plainly they are tw!ts. They smash everything that isn’t welded solid or concrete. Every now and then they pick one out and bull him too death if you don’t notice and pull him out quick. They can go nasty at 10 months and I have too keep them too 12 too go too my deadweight Man.

I get hardly any problems at all with the odd batch of lims or blues that I buy. And the suckler bulls are a doddle once they are in and on the right diet.

I know quite a few folks feeding b&w bulls for ABP or Buitelaar. If you’ve not got lots of grazing ground or like me I want all my grazing to hold breeding units then it works for me.

You have too know when too stop as well. Once they get over 14.5 months get them down the road. They are eating more than they are making by that point.

At the moment they stand me at £750 as they leave. Last bunch averaged £932. So a nice little packet too be made per bull after other costs. Calf prices this summer and an incling that corn and straw would be dear has caused me too shut the bulls right back over winter. They are very very subject to input prices. I’ll wait and fill up again when I can see light at the end of the tunnel. The suckler cattle will keep everything ticking over until then
 
Last edited:

Zippy768

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Dorset/Wilts
Get the wrong type of bull calves, it doesn’t work
Bull calves too dear, it doesn’t work
Get bad pneumonia in the young calves, end up with a batch of bad doers, it doesn’t work
Corn price goes through the roof, it doesn’t work
Try and skimp on feed quality at ANY point of the process, it doesn’t work.
Can’t mix pens after 6 months (learnt that the hard way)

A lot of people don’t like b&w bulls because too put it plainly they are tw!ts. They smash everything that isn’t welded solid or concrete. Every now and then they pick one out and bull him too death if you don’t notice and pull him out quick. They can go nasty at 10 months and I have too keep them too 12 too go too my deadweight Man.

I get hardly any problems at all with the odd batch of lims or blues that I buy. And the suckler bulls are a doddle once they are in and on the right diet.

I know quite a few folks feeding b&w bulls for ABP or Buitelaar. If you’ve not got lots of grazing ground or like me I want all my grazing to hold breeding units then it works for me.

You have too know when too stop as well. Once they get over 14.5 months get them down the road. They are eating more than they are making by that point.

At the moment they stand me at £750 as they leave. Last bunch averaged £932. So a nice little packet too be made per bull after other costs. Calf prices this summer and an incling that corn and straw would be dear has caused me too shut the bulls right back over winter. They are very very subject to input prices. I’ll wait and fill up again when I can see light at the end of the tunnel. The suckler cattle will keep everything ticking over until then
Intrigued, why cant you mix pens after 6 months?
 

Henery

Member
Location
South shropshire
Have done much calf rearing over the years.... calves from all over so problems and more problems....
Better calves are easier reared in general but you can still buy in a load of grief...
I found the most likely way to not loose money is to rear bull calves, castrated, and sell as stores to optimists with grass and cash in the spring....
No right or wrong , just a hell of a lot of risk.
look very hard at the costings..... very hard ....
 

Zippy768

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Dorset/Wilts
Ok, prepare yourself......questions....

How many do you rear?
How many farms do they come from?
Do you get any from Market?
Where do you sell them?
Do you have to take EVERYTHING from said farms?
What do you do with black and whites?
Much demand for beef heifers?

For transparency, we do:
-800+
-Dont get many direct from farms (a couple we take from)
-Yes
- private
- from the couple of farms, we only take the steers
-none
- not much
 

Celt83

Member
Livestock Farmer
Ok, prepare yourself......questions....

How many do you rear?
How many farms do they come from?
Do you get any from Market?
Where do you sell them?
Do you have to take EVERYTHING from said farms?
What do you do with black and whites?
Much demand for beef heifers?

For transparency, we do:
-800+
-Dont get many direct from farms (a couple we take from)
-Yes
- private
- from the couple of farms, we only take the steers
-none
- not much
400
2
Yes
Store marts/finish a few /weand calf marts. No private.
Yes most of the time
Pinch them and sell them as strong stores
Massive demand for the correct type.
 

Loftyrules

Member
Location
Monmouth
Is calf rearing on a contract a better option? Am looking into starting with this, but not sure current shed is suitable so would it pay as a long term investment (whilst money is cheap) to stick a purpose built shed up and take them through to 12-14 weeks?
 

Zippy768

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Dorset/Wilts
Is calf rearing on a contract a better option? Am looking into starting with this, but not sure current shed is suitable so would it pay as a long term investment (whilst money is cheap) to stick a purpose built shed up and take them through to 12-14 weeks?
With contract (I'm assuming you are talking meadow quality, buitelaar type arrangement) you ensure supply and the sale of the animals. But you pay for that.

Buy yourself (or get a calf buyer) and sell them yourself - straight forward with internet.
Rear them to 4/5 months then sell
 

Celt83

Member
Livestock Farmer
Is calf rearing on a contract a better option? Am looking into starting with this, but not sure current shed is suitable so would it pay as a long term investment (whilst money is cheap) to stick a purpose built shed up and take them through to 12-14 weeks?
Make sure there is a contract and get a good lawyer to go over it and point out all the clauses in it!

We were going to do one but wanted to have a look around and see what systems successful people were doing but a mate of mine didn't have the same patience as me and went ahead.

The ones that made the weight during the allowed period were OK, the ones that didn't he got penalised massively, and the ones that made over the target weight he got no extra bonus. Mortality rate was a factor as well.

I'm not saying they are all bad, just go into it with your eyes wide open.
 

Gulli

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Somerset
Get the wrong type of bull calves, it doesn’t work
Bull calves too dear, it doesn’t work
Get bad pneumonia in the young calves, end up with a batch of bad doers, it doesn’t work
Corn price goes through the roof, it doesn’t work
Try and skimp on feed quality at ANY point of the process, it doesn’t work.
Can’t mix pens after 6 months (learnt that the hard way)

A lot of people don’t like b&w bulls because too put it plainly they are tw!ts. They smash everything that isn’t welded solid or concrete. Every now and then they pick one out and bull him too death if you don’t notice and pull him out quick. They can go nasty at 10 months and I have too keep them too 12 too go too my deadweight Man.

I get hardly any problems at all with the odd batch of lims or blues that I buy. And the suckler bulls are a doddle once they are in and on the right diet.

I know quite a few folks feeding b&w bulls for ABP or Buitelaar. If you’ve not got lots of grazing ground or like me I want all my grazing to hold breeding units then it works for me.

You have too know when too stop as well. Once they get over 14.5 months get them down the road. They are eating more than they are making by that point.

At the moment they stand me at £750 as they leave. Last bunch averaged £932. So a nice little packet too be made per bull after other costs. Calf prices this summer and an incling that corn and straw would be dear has caused me too shut the bulls right back over winter. They are very very subject to input prices. I’ll wait and fill up again when I can see light at the end of the tunnel. The suckler cattle will keep everything ticking over until then
We used to buy b&ws and run them as steers but as you say they just trash everything, never known animals like it, used to undo gates for fun.
Thankfully we don't but them anymore
 

Chief1

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
North Yorkshire
Is calf rearing on a contract a better option? Am looking into starting with this, but not sure current shed is suitable so would it pay as a long term investment (whilst money is cheap) to stick a purpose built shed up and take them through to 12-14 weeks?
Market them yourself, only one winner on "rearing contracts" and it wont be you
 

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Plans are being urgently reevaluated and rejigged to set priorities for treatment, with a watchful eye on deadlines for timely spring crop establishment when a window allows. And all against a backdrop of potential damage to soil structure to fields from traveling in waterlogged conditions.

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Lessons learned from last year have proved invaluable, with the latest Syngenta Spring Guide giving an insight into some of the tips and ideas to help with this season’s decisions...
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