How Much Do Calves Cost?

Written by: Staff

Calves, the young of domestic cattle, are bred to become adult cattle or can be slaughtered young for their meat, known as veal.  Calves can be produced naturally or by artificial breeding through artificial insemination.

Calf by asands, on Flickr
Calf” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  asands>

How much do calves cost?

The price of calves depends on the seller, the quality, age, health, breed, geographical location and market conditions.  By the pound, which is the way most farmers charge, plan on spending $0.20 to as much as $1.50 per pound.  Some hard-to-find breeds can be as much as $3.50+ per pound.  With the average calf weighing about 30 to 50 pounds, this will put the average calf in the $37 to $75 range for one that’s younger than a few weeks old.  As they grow older, the prices will go up.

The jersey bull calf, about one week old, can cost anywhere from $20 to $70 each, while a Guernsey bull calf, three to five weeks old, can cost anywhere from $30 to $100.  A baby Holstein calf can cost $50 to $130, on average.

According to this thread, a forum member had stated that a Holstein Bull Calf cost anywhere from $125 to $175, while a day old calf could be less than $80.  This was in the state of Florida.

One member on said he paid about $25 to $100 for a few day old calf at a barn or $100 to $125 for holsteins and jerseys.

Empirelivestock keeps up with the market trends and at the time of this writing, a grower bull calf was $0.60 to $0.80 per pound, while heifer calves were $1.25 to $1.75 per pound.  Over 92#s were $0.60 to $0.82 and Bob Veal calves were an average of $0.20 to $0.50 per pound.

We went ahead and browsed the Internet, looking at various classified ads and we were able to come up with the following prices across the United States.

Type of CalfGeographical LocationCost
Irish BlackNebraska$3.50/lb
Holstein (18 months)California$230 obo
JerseySouth Carolina$50
HolsteinSouth Carolina$70
Holstein (weaned)Ohio$225
Holstein (1 week old)North Carolina$65
Jersey (3 week)Texas$200
Hereford (3 days old)Texas$250
Angus heifer (4 months)Florida$400

What is going to be included in the fee?

Paperwork may also come along with the purchase such as the date of birth, its vaccination/health record, a deworming and ear tagging. All breeders will have their own inclusions, so be sure to check ahead of time to see what’s going to be included with the purchase.

What are the extra costs?

Some farmers can deliver the cow to your location for an additional fee.

Like any animal, recurring costs will follow such as feeding it and providing shelter. notes the average cost to feed a calf is $3.81 per day.

Tips to know

The most common calves found on the market will include the Holstein, Jersey and a cross between other breeds.  Most farmers will either list their calves for sale on websites like Craigslist or on classified websites that cater to farmers such as

Most calves will be weaned off their mothers at about five to seven months old.

Since only one male is often needed on the farm, they will cost much less than a female.

How can I save money?

If you are planning to purchase a lot of calves,  a single seller since will often provide discounts for bulk orders.

Try to compare prices from several sellers to determine which one can offer calves at the best price.  Check online as many auctions can often showcase the inventory currently available.  Some people recommend heading to a local dairy farm and see if they have any calves for sale as many are willing to unload most of them for a low price.

Be sure to check around the local area as many auctions can have different buyers.  At these auctions, consider connecting with the farmers directly.  By purchasing the calves for a fair price direct can save upwards of 20% since the farmers won’t have to pay the auction fees on their animals.

Most farmers are willing to haggle, especially if you’re purchasing more than one.

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