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How Much Is A Cow? (What Do Cows Cost?)

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If you are looking to become a new proud cow owner, you may be wondering what the best cow for you is. This will be determined by a few things, such as what you want to use the cow for and the age of the cow that you want to buy. So, how much does a cow cost?

The cost of a calf will depend on the weight and age of the calf; this can range between $40 – $600 per calf. Beef cows can cost you between $2,800 – $3,000; this also depends on the cow’s weight. Dairy cows will cost between $900 – $3,000 depending on their weight, and bulls can cost up to $7,000.

black and white cows in a field

So, cows can be pretty expensive, but what can you expect a cow to cost you annually? What is the best beef cow breed to buy? What is the best dairy cow breed to buy? Let us find out. 

How Much Does A Cow Cost?

The cost of a cow can be determined by a few factors such as the gender of the cow, the cows’ weight, as well as the breed of the specific cow.

The cost difference will also be determined by what the purpose of the cow is, is it for beef or dairy production?

Yearling cows and cows sold in pairs, for example, a mother and calf, are generally less expensive compared to buying a fully grown cow or a heifer without a calf.

Cows that you can buy from a slaughterhouse will also be cheaper, but this can be risky as they may have some underlying conditions which could be expensive to treat. 

Yearlings will cost about $800 to $1500, slaughter cows with an average weight of 1.200 lbs will cost about $600, and the cost for a pair (heifer and calf) will be determined by the individual farmer but is generally less expensive. 

Let’s go into more detail about the cost of the individual cows.

The Worth Of A Cow-Calf

How much a calf will cost you depends on two factors, these are the size of the calf as well as the weight of the calf.

For example, if you are buying a calf that is only one day old, then it will require a lot more care and work; this is because you will need to feed the calf milk every day from a bottle. 

For a calf that is this young, it will likely cost in the ballpark of about $40 to $50, but this is because they do have a high mortality rate when they are separated from their mothers from such a young age.

Whereas a calf that is 4 to 6 months old, this calf is considered to be efficient and stable, therefore they tend to be more expensive.

For example, a yearling beef calf will usually cost around $650 to $750 per calf, and a yearling dairy calf will cost around $450 to $600 per calf.

The older and more stable the calf is, then the more expensive the calf will be.

The Worth Of A Beef Cow

The average cost of a beef heifer is generally around $2,800 for an individual cow, but they can range between $2,500 and $3000 per cow. The cost of a beef calf is usually based on the calf’s weight.

The unit of measurement that cow owners use to help price out cows is called CWT; this works the price out based on 100 lbs of the cow.

The usual amount for a beef cow is about $135 to $165 per 100 lbs, with an average of $140 per 100 lbs. Using this pricing, a calf that weighs about 500 lbs will cost around $700.

A bred heifer will cost about $1,300, as they do not weigh that much as you generally buy them when they are younger, whereas a mature beef cow can set you back around $4000 to $5000 per cow as they have had more time to pack on the pounds before you buy them, and they can weigh up to 2,200 lbs. 

girl feeding cows in the barn

The Worth Of A Dairy Cow

A dairy cow can cost in the range of $900 to $3,000; this huge range in price depends on the price of a yearling compared to the price of a proven family cow.

As we mentioned earlier, calves and yearlings tend to cost less than matured cows.

A dairy cow can also be more expensive to buy if it was bottle-fed or hand raised as they tend to be friendlier with people, and they can be kept around family.

This is an advantage as the friendlier the cow is, the easier it is to milk and handle. 

To help work out the price of a dairy cow by weight, the cost per pound is usually between $1.05 and $1.35.

Bred cows are generally more expensive compared to heifers, and heifers can cost between $500 and $1,000. 

Dairy cows that are already lactating will cost more as they are ready for production; they will set you back between $1,500 and $2,100. 

The Worth Of A Bull

The price of a bull will be dependant on the proven breeding ability and the bloodline of the bull. Bulls that are effective breeders with a good bloodline will demand a premium price, while lesser bulls will cost less. 

Many young bulls are simply slaughtered for meat because there is less of a demand for bulls than there is for cows.

A steer cow is a male cow that has been neutered and is being raised for beef will vary in price depending on the weight of the steer. 

A steer that weighs between 200 to 300 lbs will cost between $150 to $190 per pound. Whereas a breeding bull with a good bloodline can cost you $6,000 to $7,000 to buy. 

What Are The Best Beef Cows To Buy?

The most famous breed of beef cow in the United States is the Black Angus cow; this breed of cow does require more care and maintenance, especially in the calving season.

However, these cows are not the only good beef cow that you can buy; the following are a few that provide a good amount of beef. 

The Hereford cow is a breed that matures early in life, and they have a great fattening ability, too; they tend to be quite docile cows, and they are efficient when it comes to milk production as well. 

The Charloais breed is a heavier cow compared to the Black Angus, and they get a nice thick coat in winter, making their winter upkeep easier. 

The Simmental breed of cow is very easy to work with; even during the calving season, they also have good fattening abilities.

A Red Angus is much like the Black Angus cow, they are docile cows, and they have good fat marbling in their meat. 

milking cow facility

What Are The Best Dairy Cows To Buy?

All female cows produce milk, but some breeds tend to do it better than others; the following are some dairy cow breeds that are excellent to keep as dairy cows.

The Jersey cow is a great milk provider, and they are smaller in size compared to other cow breeds, meaning they are a bit easier to take care of. 

The Brown Swiss cow breed is a very gentle cow, and they are actually one of the oldest dairy animals.

The Hereford cow breed is not only a good cow for beef, but they are great milk providers as well, and they mature early so they can start producing milk a lot earlier than other cow breeds.  

How Much Does The Cow Cost Annually?

The cost for caring for and feeding a cow will generally be between $500 and $1,000 per year. This high cost can be lowered if you have the land required to grass-feed your cows; this will require about 2 to 5 acres of land per cow. 

For cows that are being raised for meat, you will need to feed them around 30 to 40 lbs of hay a day at a minimum; some cows may require up to 100 lbs of hay.

This can cost you about $1,000 a year for feed; if you have the grassland for grass-fed cows, then the price for feed can be cut down to between $200 and $300 per year. 

There are some other costs that may be required; these include vet bills, minerals, and other supplements, halters, and other equipment; for dairy cows to produce milk, you will need to pay for them to be bred, oats, corn, barley, and any other food that may be needed to supplement the cows’ diet. 

brown cows in the field

Where to Buy a Cow

When it comes to finding a cow to purchase, there are several places you can explore:

  • Contact your local 4H or FFA group
  • Look on Craigslist
  • Search local farming groups on Facebook
  • Check feed store bulletin boards and/or ask the feed store clerk if they know anyone in your area that has cows for sale.
  • Attend a livestock auction
  • Contact a private breeder (especially if looking for purebred, registered cows)
  • Check with local livestock rescues

Conclusion

Cows can be quite expensive to buy depending on the age, weight, and gender of the cow; it could cost thousands of dollars.

There are cows that cost less, but they may require extra care as they are young, and the young calves also have a high mortality rate. 

The average yearly cost for looking after a cow is not that expensive, but if the cow needs a visit from the vet, then the cost can become quite high.

Good luck with finding the cow that is right for you!

References

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