What is in this article?:
- Feeding dairy steers can be profit center
- Can be reasonable profitable
- Dairy steer calves can be an economically viable enterprise on dairy farms or as a stand-alone beef production operation.
- Current beef prices offer opportunities to raise dairy steer calves up to various weights at economical cost of production levels.
Fed dairy steers make up about 15-20 percent of all fed cattle sent to market for beef production.
Dairy steer or bull calf sales only account for about 1-2 percent of gross sales from typical dairy farm operations.
Given current beef and milk prices, if dairy steers are fed to finish on the farm, they would account for about 15 percent of dairy farm revenues.
Dairy steers are a significant contributor to the U.S. beef supply and can be a revenue generating center for dairy farms or other farming operations.
Since the sale of newborn bull calves is a small percentage of revenue, there is little financial incentive to offer them the same high quality care that the female counterparts receive. However, the future profitability of bull calves is greatly impacted by the care they receive during the first hours and days of life.
Calves that do not receive adequate immunoglobulin transfer within the first few hours of life are at greater risk of diseases such as scours and pneumonia and exhibit mortality rates twice those of calves receiving adequate immunoglobulin transfer.
Management recommendations for steer calves need to be the same as the heifers if they are to be healthy and vigorous.
Raising steer calves to 300 pounds from birth requires an intensive allocation of feed, labor and facility resources. Comparatively, as the dairy steer grows older labor and facility costs decrease on a per head basis and feed costs per pound of gain also decreases.
Calculating breakeven analysis at various death loss rates indicates that the simple loss of the purchase price is only a small portion of losses.