There are many useful reasons why you should raise cattle. Some people do it for breeding, some simply for milk, while others do it for their fresh, delicious red meat that is one of the most eaten around the world, from traditional households to fast food restaurants and wider. However, when raising cattle, there are a lot of things to consider and one of those things is how much it cost to buy a cow in the first place, as well as raise it.
Many things will affect the value of a cow. For example, many farmers, ranchers, and breeders will put into consideration that cows will cost more if they’re heavier. In addition to that, the cow breed as well as its age plays a significant part in determining its price on the market.
In some situations, you will spend less than $1,000 on a cattle, while in some other situations, you’re expected to pay anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 to own a cow. To understand how the cow market works, one has to consider all the factors in the first place, and regularly research the cattle market and raising industry.
Quick Summary: Cows range in price based on age, sex, breed, and whether they are used for milk or beef. Milk cows can cost anywhere from $800 to $3,000, while beef cows are more expensive compared to milk cows, and given that they reach up to 2,000 pounds can cost anywhere from $2000 to $5,000. The cows will also rise their value if they were bred, while the cheapest yet highest maintenance option is to purchase a baby calf.
Because we know this might not be easy for everyone getting started with cattle raising and potentially breeding, we wrote this detailed guide where we’ll break down how much does a cow costs. We put all the considering factors side by side and compare prices for different breeds and ages.
That being said, continue reading our guide on how much does a cow costs, and you’ll also be able to calculate the costs of caring for a cow as well as feeding it. If you calculate all the costs effectively and take good care of your cows, you’re guaranteed to turn this investment into a powerful ranching business!
Best Breeds of Cows to Raise
It’s no secret that Black Angus is the most popular cow breed to raise in the United States of America. This Scotland-based breed is famous for producing excellent quality meat that is often used in the most famous America-based burger restaurants and other shapes of fast food.
However, something that many butcherers and ranchers alike don’t know is that to raise the Black Angus cattle, you have to put in a lot of hard work and dedication. These animals require a lot of care and are generally considered high-maintenance, especially during the calving season which is the most important to them.
If you don’t want to raise Black Angus cattle for several reasons like your private reasons or their high-energy needs, less lean meat, or something else, there are other amazing providers of beef such as:
- Hereford: a breed of cow that is among the first to reach maturity. They are known for their fattening traits, as well as their docile nature, and great at milk production.
- Charolais: These cows are heavier and have thicker skin during the winter which protects them from the cold. This breed is adapted for cold climates, so it’s the best breed to have if where you live the winters are frigidly cold.
- Red Angus: Just like the Hereford, they are very peaceful and docile. Many people choose to raise them because of their excellent fat marbling.
- Simmental: They are also pretty docile, and just like Charolais, they have excellent fattening abilities. They are the easiest to work with when the calving season comes.
- Highlands: This is another great cow breed for colder climates. What’s even better about them is that they have lean red meat with nicely marbled fat tissue.
- Texas Longhorn: You wouldn’t expect anything less from a Texas cow than to be able to easily survive. They also have long horns which inspired their name. They have good, lean meat and are generally considered to produce meat that is lower in cholesterol than other cows.
However, if meat is not your only concern, but also milk you should consider which cows are the best for it. It’s no secret all female cows deliver milk. However, with some breeds, it’s of better quality and in more quantity.
If you want a cow that is good for both meat and milk, you should choose the Hereford cow that we mentioned earlier. Don’t forget they are also maturing early so they are a great choice for milk production. Still, check out other breeds that excel at producing milk.
- The Brown Swiss: If you ever ate some chocolate made of Alpine milk, there’s a great chance that the milk was produced by this breed of cow or some related option. They are great milk providers and in addition to that, they are gentle and very docile.
- The Jersey Cow: Because they’re smaller compared to other cow breeds, they are easier to care for and raise. In addition to that, they produce great quantities of milk.
How Much Does a Cow Cost?
When buying a cow, there are several more things to consider, like whether you’re buying a cow for milk or beef. Dairy cows are much more affordable than beef cows. While some beef cows are also great milk producers, you will usually want to benefit from only one purpose to preserve than other. Keep in mind that this especially applies to steers.
Now, if you’re expecting to purchase a milk cow, expect you’ll spend anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 as well as $3,000 to $5,000 if you’re opting for a beef cow. Yearlings of both will cost somewhere from $700 to $1,200 but expect the prices to go up with all the cost rises.
If you’re looking to buy a bottled calf and raise it on your own, expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150. As calves grow older and start to gain weight, their price will usually rise. Same goes for cows, in general, that gain weight and for some breeds, you’re expected to pay per pound rather than have a standalone formed price.
The table below details the different cow costs:
|Type of a Cow||Average Weight||Cost|
|Beef Cows||1200 lbs||$2,000-$3,000|
|Bred Cows||800 lbs||$900-$1,000|
|Steers Calves||550 lbs||$850|
|Heifers Calves||520 lbs||$800|
Beef Cow Cost
If you’re looking to purchase a beef cow or a cow heifer, you’ll pay anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 per head. The average price of these is about $2,500 to $2,800. However, keep in mind that the weight of a calf plays a great role in the cost, so you’re expected to pay up to $5,000 total for exceptional quality.
If you want to have a better measurement view of a cow, you should use the CWT measurement unit which equals 100 pounds. That said, a CWT for a beef cow is anywhere from $130 to $170, which makes it an average of $150 for a 100-pound cow.
Another thing that affects the price is whether the heifers were bred, which will result in a total increase in price by 1.5 times. That makes full cows reach up to $5,000 in total because they can gain over 2,000 pounds of weight.
Dairy Cow Cost
Given that we broke down the overall price of the beef cows, it’s time to detail how much it’d cost to buy a dairy cow. Dairy cows can cost anywhere from $800 to $3,000 and sometimes even more, depending on different factors.
The prices are different for a yearling cow, and go up as the cow is proving to be a true family cow. If you’re going to purchase a calf or a yearling, know that you’ll spend considerably less money compared to buying a fully-grown cow.
If you raise a cow by hand by bottling or other methods, those cows will be more expensive to buy given they’re docile and friendly towards humans. They enjoy people and are great for a family ranch with a lot of children playing around.
Below we broke down the dairy cow cost based on age and other factors
- Cows that you sell based on per weight ratio cost from $1 to $1.35 per pound
- Bred cows are more expensive compared to heifers and will cost from $500 to $1,000
- Lactating dairy cows can cost up to $2,000
- Jersey cows cost from $1,500 to $1800
Baby Cow Costs
If you’re looking to purchase a baby cow, facts like its age, gender, and breed will affect its cost. If you buy a calf that is only a day or a few old, expect to spend about $50. On the other hand, raising them will require some extra expenses because of their high mortality rate.
A yearling will cost more, anywhere around $700 for a beef yearling and $500 for a dairy yearling. Depending on their weight, as they grow older, calves will cost anywhere from $800 to $900.
Editor’s notes: Keep in mind that baby cows can be extremely hard to raise and will require a lot of vet expenses and maintenance from your side. You’re also expected to be dedicated and devoted to raising a healthy cow so that you will be able to generate revenue in the future.
Other Costs of Keeping a Cow
Regardless of breed and purpose of keeping a cow, there are extra costs per year for every cow that you have on your ranch. If you’re expecting to purchase your first cows, here are some things you have to consider in the process. Your total costs of keeping a cow will be anywhere from $500 to $1,000, and the price is likely going to increase to up to $1,500 per cow.
Cows have a varied diet and while they do need a few acres per cow for grass-feeding, a cow’s nutrition is more than just grass. They need anywhere from 30 to 60 pounds of hay if you’re keeping a beef cow. If you are raising milk cows expect that they’ll eat up to 100 pounds of different feed daily.
The costs will also depend on whether you need to buy hay or have enough land to produce your hay. Needless to say, if you plan to buy it, you’ll have to spend anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 just on feeding.
Other feed that the cows need is corn, barley, oats, grain, alfalfa, and others.
Editor’s notes: Another thing worth mentioning is that cows won’t only need food, but supplements and minerals that also cost to get and will help cows stay healthy while growing. There is also concern about parasites and health, so it’s important to include the vet bills and maintenance in the total cost of caring for a cow. Finally, there are also breeding costs in case you’re raising cows for the breeding purposes.
Where Can You Buy a Cow?
There are several options you can look into when purchasing a cow. Your easiest bet is to purchase it locally as delivering costs will be the lowest and you’ll be able to find it at a relatively lower price. However, male cattle will also be cheaper to sell to dairy farmers given that they only needed them for breeding.
Your other options are:
- Checking local farming groups on Facebook and Instagram pages
- Checking Craigslist
- Checking 4H and FFA groups
- Feed Store Bulletin Boards also contain a lot of selling ads from local farmers
- Check if there are some livestock auctions that you can visit.
- Private breeders who have purebred confirmed cows.
There is also an alternative and that is checking some of the websites listed below: