Calves in a field

Let's face it - there is no perfect way to rear calves. Essentially you choose a system that best fits your resources and requirements. However, whether you are a dairy or beef farmer you’re looking for economic viability and a high-weight, healthy weaned calf.

Factors to consider:
  • Your facilities and financial resources
  • Your experience in animal husbandry and calf rearing
  • The number of calves to be reared
  • Weaning policy
  • Type of calf (heifer replacements - bull beef?)
  • Breed criteria and requirements
  • Capital expenditure overall
  • Labour–cost and availability
  • Pasture availability/quality
  • Prices of a 4 day old calf
  • Price of calf milk replacers/whole milk
  • Feed once a day or twice a day
  • The price of a 100kg weaner
  • The beef schedule

If you are new to calf rearing or have never undertaken large scale rearing, then we recommend you seek as much advice as you can. Better to start small and increase numbers gradually. This site has a lot of information to assist with decisions and we are more than happy to talk to you.

Calves respond well to human voice and touch, and when treated with a little compassion will respond well. The greatest asset you can have is experience. Try a small number for the first season until you are confident in dealing with any problems that may arise. Gradually increase your numbers, don’t jump from 20 one season to 500 the next.

Here's a cashflow worksheet to assist in planning.

Cashflow / Projection Worksheet
  Cost per kg/litre/unit Unit Cost Total Cost
Capital outlay      
Interest payable      
Colostrum      
Liquid Whole Milk      
Calf Milk Replacer      
Bedding      
Meal      
Pasture      
Straw      
Projected losses      
Health      
Labour      
Power      
R & M      
Miscellaneous      
       
Total cost per calf      
$/kg L/wt gain      
Projected profit per calf