How Much Does a Cow Cost?

Written by: Staff

With more than 1.3 billion cows roaming the world, the cost of one will be dependent on the breed, its size, age, breeder, market condition and geographical location.

cow by steve p2008, on Flickr
cow” (CC BY 2.0) by  steve p2008

How much do cows cost?

With the factors mentioned above, the costs can really be all over the place; however, if you were looking to purchase a basic bottle fed calf, then the costs would be in the $500 to $1,000 range.  If you didn’t want a calf, then the average purchase would be within the $600 to $2,100 range, depending greatly on its size, market conditions and how good it looks.  With so many breeds out there, refer to our table to see what the average breed may cost.

The Prairie Homestead said you should be prepared to spend $900 to $3,000, depending on where you live.  The proven family cows will cost more, while the first-calf heifers will cost less.

This report said cattle prices had peaked in November of 2014, with a newly weaned calf costing $1,400 per head.  In 2015, the price dropped 25 percent less, to about $1,035 per head.  Much of this decline, according to the website, was due to heavy losses by cattle feeders.

BreedAverage Price

What is going to be included in the adoption fee?

Most farmers will include up to date vaccinations and can confirm a pregnancy with paperwork if you needed confirmation.

What are the extra costs?

The annual costs to take care of a cow, according to Beef Magazine, is $900 per head per year.  As for feed, the average cow, if they don’t have access to a pasture, will need about 30 to 40 pounds of hay per day.  With the average bale, depending on average market conditions, cost $150 per ton, this means you would spend about $0.075 per pound or $2.25 per day.  These costs can go down if your cow has access to a larger pasture, however.

A cow, on average, will need about two to four acres to graze.  If you don’t have this land available, then you may want to consider budgeting for it.

Since everyone’s situation is different, you need to factor in the starter equipment, facilities, maintenance and labor.  A trailer may be required if you need to transport from one destination to another.

The same can be said about vet visits for new calves and future checkups.

Some farmers can deliver within a certain radius for a small fee, or in some cases, they may waive it if you purchase enough cows at once.

How can I save money?

A lot of farmers may sell more than one “head” at a time.  Generally, the more cows you purchase at once, the more you can save per “head.”

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