How Much Does A Cow Cost To Buy? 2023 Cattle Prices | Best Farm Animals (2023)

I have been debating putting some cows out to pasture in my extra 3.5 acres of land. But first, I wanted to know how much a cow will cost me to buy, so I researched. Since that time, I have spent considerable time monitoring cow costs throughout the years.

How Much Do Cows Cost in 2023? Generally, a cow costs between $2,100 and $5,100 per cow. The average price is closer to $3,000 per adult cow. But, the actual cost depends on weight, gender, and breed. Yearlings sell for between $850 and $1,550. Cows will also differ in price based on whether they are dairy or beef cows. Bulls sell for more than cows.

Cows can be sold for a flat price for the cow or based on their weight of the cow. Cow and Calf pairs are also sold, which can cost less than individual animals. Let’s explore some of the differences in cows and their prices.

Beef cows cost more than dairy cows. This is especially true with steers. Bottle calves can cost as little as $50-$100 while yearlings are typically between $800-$1000. Milk cows are usually work around $3,000, but beef steers can sell for as much as $4,000-$5,000 if they are fully finished. As a cow gains weight, the average cost per pound decreases, but the overall price increases because the cow weighs so much more.

  • Bottle-fed baby cows (calves) $50-$100
  • Dairy yearlings $550 averag
  • Beef yearlings $800-$1,000
  • Older beef steers $1,000+ depending on weight
  • Producing Dairy Cows price $800-$3,000
  • Older Dairy Cows $800-$1,500

Cow Cost By Weight Chart

Type of Cow CostAverage WeightCalculationCost
Slaughter Cows1,200 Lbs$75 per 100 lbs$900
Bred Cows800 lbs$165 per 100 lbs$1,320
Steers Calves550 lbs$155 per 100 lbs$850
Steers1,200 lbs$140 per 100 lbs$1,680
Heifers Calves520 lbs$145 per 100 lbs$755
Slaughter Heifers1,000 lbs$130 per 100 lbs$1,300

How Much Do Baby Cows Cost?

Age, breed, gender, and purpose affect the cost of a cow. A day-old calf will require more work and will have to be bottle-fed. Those often cost between $35 and $50 per calf. They also have a higher mortality rate, with about half of the calves dying.

A yearling cow that is 4-6 months old is more stable and will cost more. A beef yearling will cost between $650 and $750 per calf. Older calves will cost more based on weight. A dairy yearling can cost as little as $450-$600 for a calf.

  • Beef yearling: $700
  • Dairy yearlings: $550
  • Older calves $800-900 depending on weight

What’s A Beef Cow Worth?

Beef heifers will generally cost about $2,500 to $3,000 per head with an average price of $2,800 per cow. A calf will generally cost based on the weight of the calf. CWT is the unit measurement used to price cows and stands for 100 pounds. The cwt for a beef cow is between $135 and $165. That’s an average of $140 per 100 pounds. A 500-pound calf would cost about $700.

Bred heifers cost a little more than 1.5 times the cost of a heifer. A bred heifer would cost about $1,300 to purchase. Full-grown cows can cost as much as $4,000 to $5,000 per cow. A full-grown cow can weigh as much as 2,200 pounds and go for as much as $1.85 cwt.

  • Calves: $800
  • Heifer $1,300
  • Heifer Calf combination $2,000
  • Full-grown beef cow: $3,000 to $5,000

What’s The Best Beef Cow To Raise?

The most popular beef cow in the United States is Black Angus. They require little maintenance during calving season. However, Black Angus isn’t the only great beef cow available. Check out these varieties.

Black Angus: Marbled meat, low maintenance

Charolais: Heavier cattle, coat thickens in the winter

Hereford: Early maturity, great fattening abilities, docile, good milkers also

Simmental: Easy during calving season, fattening ability

Red Angus: Marbled meat and docile

Texas Longhorn: Has horns, survival cows

Highlands: Thick coats, do well in very cold climates, lean and marbled meat

How Much Does A Cow Cost To Buy? 2023 Cattle Prices | Best Farm Animals (1)

How Much Does a Dairy Cow Cost?

The worth of a milk cow varies between $900 and $3,000. This range depends on the cost of a yearly to the cost of a proven-family cow. Calves or yearlings are much cheaper to purchase than full-grown cows. Additionally, a cow that has been bottled or hand raised will cost more because they are people-friendly and better to have around the family.

  • Jersey cows can cost as little as $1,400 to $1,800
  • Cows sold by weight are usually sold between $1.05 and $1.35 per pound
  • Heifers are cheaper than bred cows, ranging between $500 and $1,000
  • Lactating dairy cows usually cost between $1,500 and $2,100
  • Tame, bottle fed, or hand raised cows generally cost more because they are used to close human contact.

What Are The Best Dairy Cows To Buy?

  • Brown Swiss: Gentle cows, one of the oldest dairy varieties
  • Jersey: Smaller cow, richer milk
  • Guernseys: Smaller cow
  • Dexters: Smaller dairy cows also used for meat
  • Hereford: Early maturity, docile, good milkers also
  • Holstein: Popular for milking cows, great beef cows also
How Much Does A Cow Cost To Buy? 2023 Cattle Prices | Best Farm Animals (2)

Where Can I Buy A Cow?

You have many options on where to purchase a cow. Local farmers may be willing to sell you a cow for less than market prices. Dairy farmers will often sell male cows at a lower price because they aren’t needed for dairy production. In addition to finding a local farmer ready to sell, you can also order and purchase a cow online. Several places offer cow sales, including the following websites:

In addition, there are local auctions all around the country. If you seek a cow at an auction, be sure to bring someone knowledgeable to help you determine if a specific cow has potential problems.

How much does a cow cost annually?

Cows generally cost between $550 and $1,000 a year to keep. In 2023, you’ll want to plan on around $1,000-$1,500 due to the increased cost of feed. This includes their feed and care. A cow will cost less if you produce your own feed or if you have more acres to grass-feed the cow from. A single cow will need between 2-5 acres per cow to grass-feed.

Cows generally need between 30 and 40 pounds* of hay a day for meat cows. Actively milking cows can eat as much as 100 pounds a day in combined feed. If you need to buy hay for most of the year, it will cost you about $1,300-2,000 a year in feed. If you can grow your own feed or have enough land for the cow’s grazing needs, then a cow will only cost you $200-300 a year.

Other costs that you will need to factor include:

  • Grain, Hay, Alfalfa
  • Corn, Oats, and Barley
  • Vet Bills
  • Minerals and other supplements
  • Other needs such as halters, equipment, etc
  • Breeding costs

* Cows eat 2.6% of their weight a day. That means they eat roughly 24-26 lbs a day in dry hay. But, there is usually a 15% waste. It’s best to plan on about 36lbs a day of hay per cow until you figure out the best ways to minimize hay waste.

In 2022, a ton bale of siliage hay cost $175 per bale. Grass hay cost $280 per ton. Alfalfa hay (for pregnant or nursing cows) cost between $400 per bale ton, depending on the cut of alfalfa. In 2023, prices are already rising due to heavy droughts across the Western US and the increased cost of fertilizer and fuels.

How Much Does A Cow Cost To Buy? 2023 Cattle Prices | Best Farm Animals (3)

Frequently Asked Questions About Cow Costs:

How much does a cow cost to keep in your backyard? It will cost around $25-$30 a day in feed if you purchase from a feed store, but you may need to purchase additional equipment if you keep a backyard cow. A steer will eat 15-20 pounds of feed, while a dairy heifer will eat as much as 35 pounds of feed a day (more when combining different food options).

In addition, you will need to have a way to keep your cow safe, contained, and healthy. You will need a barbed wire fence to keep it contained. Getting your backyard cow ready will cost you $300 or more.

How much does it cost to butcher a cow? If you pay to have your cow killed, it can cost as much as $100. There are several costs associated with butchering a cow, including the cost to kill, butcher, and prep the meat. The carcass will need to be butchered and prepped for consumption.

Hanging meat weight is the raw butcher weight of the meat. The cost to prep the meat is based on the hanging meat weight and not the final weight of the prepared meat. Butchering usually costs about $0.55 per pound of hanging meat weight.

Will I Save Money On Beef Costs To Raise A Cow? You won’t save money if you primarily eat lower-cost cuts, such as the meat used for hamburgers or roasts. You will save money if you primarily like to eat higher-end cuts such as those used for steaks or filets. Beef consumption can be broken into two categories: higher and lower.

When you raise your own beef, all the meat is averaged as a cost per pound. According to the University of Wyoming, raising your own beef costs $4.10 per pound. That means that with an average cost of $2.99 for cheaper cuts of beef, you will overspend by $1.11 per pound. However, higher-end cuts average $8.44 a pound and will save you $4.34 a pound. If you average the costs of the entire cow, and you can consume the entire cow, then you will save yourself $240 a year in beef. That takes into account the consumer costs of $2,081 for 450 pounds of meat and the cost of $1,845 for the same meat in a raised cow.

Retail CostTotal CostRaised CostTotal Cost
Lower End Cuts (315 lbs)$2.99$941.85$4.10$1,291.50
Higher End Cuts (135 lbs)$8.441,139.40$4.10$553.50
How Much Does A Cow Cost To Buy? 2023 Cattle Prices | Best Farm Animals (4)
How Much Does A Cow Cost To Buy? 2023 Cattle Prices | Best Farm Animals (5)
How Much Does A Cow Cost To Buy? 2023 Cattle Prices | Best Farm Animals (6)

Annemaria Duran

Hi, I’m Annemaria Duran. I moved out to the country 6 years ago, mainly so I could have more land. I love all aspects of country living. First, we got chickens, then ducks. Now we have sheep, goats, and rabbits. I'm always learning and love sharing it!

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How Much Does A Cow Cost To Buy? 2023 Cattle Prices | Best Farm Animals? ›

Fed cattle prices are expected to range from $150 to $172 per hundredweight, averaging $158 for the year, up $14 from last year. Calves weighing 550 pounds are expected to average $225, up $29, while cull cows could rise $20 to $100. Good quality bred cows could range from $1,900 to $2,300.

How much will bred heifer cost in 2023? ›

Thus, if feeder cattle futures are any indication of what can be expected for bred heifers in 2023, bred heifer values may be worth $2,400 to $2,600 per head.

How much is the feedlot cost of gain 2023? ›

Feeding cost of gain for the first and second quarters of 2023 are expected to range from $140 to $143 and from $135 to $140, respectively. Feeding cost of gain is sensitive to changes in feed conversions, corn prices, and alfalfa prices.

What is the US cattle inventory for 2023? ›

US Cattle Inventory Down 3 Percent

Inventory of all cattle and calves in the United States, as of January 1, 2023, totaled 89.3 million head, down 3 percent from the 92.1 million head on January 1, 2022.

How much does it cost to buy a cow per year? ›

How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Cow? The average cost to raise a cow for a year is between $500 and $1,000. This number includes prices for feed and care!

What will cattle prices do in 2023? ›

Slaughter numbers of both cows and finished cattle will be shrinking in 2023, and buyers will have to pay up to get what they want. Here's the forecast for average prices. Fed cattle: $150 to $172 per hundredweight trading range, with an average of $158 for the year. That's up $14 from last year.

What will beef prices do in 2023? ›

Slaughter numbers are expected to be down this year, pressuring prices. Fed cattle prices are expected to range from $150 to $172 per hundredweight, averaging $158 for the year, up $14 from last year. Calves weighing 550 pounds are expected to average $225, up $29, while cull cows could rise $20 to $100.

What is a good rate of gain for cattle? ›

The expected daily rate of gain depends on what you're feeding and what your goals are. "If they're primarily on forage, grazing cattle, stocker cattle, 1-2 pounds a day would be typical. If you're feeding corn silage or kind of a moderate energy growing ration, 2-pounds a day would be typical," says Loy.

How much profit per head for feedlot cattle? ›

Feedlots found average profits of $133 per head last week, fully $67 per head higher than the previous week.

How long will a cow spend living at a feedlot? ›

Depending on their arrival weight, cattle may spend anywhere from a few months to nearly a year in a feedlot. Typical feedlot stays are slightly less than 6 months.

What state has the largest inventory of beef cattle? ›

Texas had the most beef cows in the United States in 2023 followed by Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska & South Dakota.

What is the outlook for beef cattle in 2023? ›

The consensus is that beef production will decline this year for the first time since 2015. The extent of that decline will depend on several factors, including drought. If USDA continues to adjust its 2023 beef production forecast upward, it will signal that drought is still impacting beef cow and heifer slaughter.

Who has the largest cattle inventory? ›

Roughly 63% of the world's cattle are in India, Brazil & China. (The cattle inventory in India includes water buffalo).

How much do farmers make per cow? ›

On average farms with less than 250 cows will make just $125 to $170 per cow in 2020, while those with more than 1000 or 5000 cows will earn about three to five times that level. The least profitable region is expected to be the Southwest, and farms below 250 cows are expected to lose money in 2022.

How much does a cow make a farmer? ›

Cattle Farmers in America make an average salary of $46,110 per year or $22 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $96,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $21,000 per year. What Am I Worth?

How much profit from 10 cows? ›

10 cows milking 85 lbs of milk at $21/cwt is $179/day in revenue.

Is beef going up in 2023? ›

In 2023, a temporal shift in expected feeder calf placements and stronger cow slaughter lifts the production forecast to 26.9 billion pounds. Cattle prices are projected to reach new highs in 2024, and the 2023 forecast was raised as well.

Is there going to be a beef shortage in 2023? ›

Beef. 2023 will also likely bring a beef shortage, meaning you may need to shell out more if you want to serve burgers and steak. Last year, a drought in Texas resulted in less grass feed for cows. At the same time, alternative feeds were expensive, so farmers sold their cattle earlier than anticipated.

What month are cattle prices the highest? ›

Price tended to rise from January through about August then drop through October and rise again through December. The smallest variability in prices was during June and September. The seasonal price index for the 700 to 800 pound steers shows a distinct seasonal pattern during the 2005-2014 period.

Is now a good time to sell cows? ›

Prices are generally lowest during the months of November and December, while the highest prices are received during the months of March, April, and May. The reduced prices in the fall months are attributed to the sale of culled beef cows after weaning calves.

What will replace beef in the future? ›

Plant-based meat analogues, edible insects, and cultured meat are promising major meat alternatives that can be used as protein sources in the future.

Is there a cattle shortage? ›

The meat industry forecast for 2023 predicts a significant decrease in the supply of beef, leading to higher prices for everyone. Reports estimate that on average, Americans will eat 5.6% less beef this year due to shortages.

How much profit do you make from cattle? ›

Weaning rate was estimated at 85%, meaning that it is expected that a calf will be weaned and sold from 85% of the cows that were exposed to the bull. Based on these assumptions and adjusted for the weaning rate, average calf revenue is $725 per cow.

How much profit can you make from cattle? ›

After adjusting for these other costs, the net return (all costs included) is –$151 per cow per year, or –$6,040 for the 40-cow farm. Another way to look at this is to just include the depreciation and interest for equipment/fencing/facilities ($150/cow/year), and not include land and labor ($200/cow/year).

How much profit is in selling cattle? ›

A bred cow would bring $1,300 to $1,500 per cow. Profitability varies significantly among individual producers, but Olson said the general picture is that per-head average profit should be from $175 to $200 per cow; the majority of producers aren't making enough money.

How many cows can you have on 100 acres? ›

General Rules of Thumb

The general rule of thumb is 1:1. That means one cow per one acre of pasture. Keep in mind that is a minimum requirement.

How many acres do you need for 1000 head of cattle? ›

A typical 1000 lb cow with a calf (1 Animal Unit) needs around 0.27 ac (0.11 ha) of pasture in excellent condition and applied irrigation, up to 8 ac (3.2 ha) of pasture in poor condition and low precipitation level.

Do cattle ranches make money? ›

Overall profit margins of a cattle ranch range from 24-33% per head of cattle. Profits vary depending upon product sold, size of ranch, demand, and pricing.

What is the best age to slaughter beef cattle? ›

Prime. Slaughter steers and heifers 30 to 42 months of age possessing the minimum qualifications for Prime have a fat covering over the crops, back, ribs, loin, and rump that tends to be thick. The brisket, flanks, and cod or udder appear full and distended and the muscling is very firm.

How many years should you keep a cow? ›

However the most consistent decline in reproductive performance was noted after cows were 10 years of age. A steeper decline in reproductive performance was found as they became 12 years of age. In other words, start to watch for reasons to cull a cow at about age 8.

How much does it cost to feed a cow in a feedlot? ›

For raised hay, daily feed cost is estimated to be $1.75 for good hay, $1.86 for fair hay and $2.15 for poor hay. Fall-calving cows have higher feed costs due to lactation. Using purchased hay prices, estimates of daily feed cost are $2.90 for good hay, $2.68 for fair hay and $2.68 for poor hay.

What state has the best beef? ›

Which states have the best USDA prime beef? Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas are among the top states for producing high-quality beef. These states have ideal conditions for raising cattle, including ample grass for grazing and a suitable climate for growing feed crops.

What state is number 1 for cattle? ›

As of 2023, there are 28,917,900 beef cows in the United States. This is down from one year ago. Texas has the most beef cows, followed by Oklahoma, Missouri, and Nebraska.

What 3 states have the most cattle? ›

Texas has the most cattle in the United States followed by Nebraska & Kansas. Texas accounts for roughly 13% of the cattle inventory in the United States.

Why are cattle prices falling? ›

Beef supplies are shrinking after farmers sold off cattle in response to drought and high costs. “Tightening cattle supplies are expected to cause a significant year-over-year decrease in beef production, the first decline since 2015,” a March market outlook from the US Department of Agriculture noted.

What will happen to the beef industry in the next 10 years? ›

The COVID-19 pandemic has focused new attention on a 2019 study that predicts the conventional U.S. beef industry will collapse by 2030, with "severe" impacts on much of the rest of agriculture. "By 2030, the number of cows in the U.S. will have fallen by 50% and the cattle farming industry will be all but bankrupt.

What cow sells for the most? ›

Summary of the Most Expensive Cows
4.Longhorn CowsApproximate Price – $10,000
3.Black Angus CowsApproximate Price – $12,000
2.Brahman CowsApproximate Price – $20,000
1.Wagyu CowsApproximate Price – $30,000
12 more rows
May 22, 2023

What is the highest selling cattle breed? ›

The Angus breed was first imported to Victoria, Kansas, from Scotland in 1873. Since then, it has become the most dominant beef cattle breed in the United States.

Who owns the most cows in USA? ›

South Dakota has the most cattle per person in the United States followed by Nebraska and Montana.
1South Dakota844,877
4North Dakota723,393
46 more rows
Apr 16, 2023

Do ranchers make good money? ›

The average salary for a farm rancher in the United States is $31,547. Farm rancher salaries typically range between $13,000 and $74,000 a year. The average hourly rate for farm ranchers is $15.17 per hour. Location, education, and experience impacts how much a farm rancher can expect to make.

What's the most profitable farming? ›

Dairy Farming: Dairy farming is one of the most profitable agricultural business ideas. Aside from milk, it also produces manure. There is a high demand for organic dairy products all year round such as milk, cheese, curd, cream and so much more.

How much money can you make with 100 cattle? ›

By this logic, 100 cows would produce a net profit of about $34,000/year. 200 cows selling 200 calves/year would then produce a net profit of about $68,000/year.

Are cattle farmers wealthy? ›

Cattle ranchers earn almost twice as much as the average American worker, but their jobs are also physically strenuous. Income and profit fluctuates from year to year due to shifting overhead costs, government subsidies and public policies regulating the beef industry.

What livestock is most profitable? ›

Beef cattle are considered the most profitable livestock and easiest to raise for profit, but homesteaders with small acreage won't be able to raise cattle. Cattle, whether you want beef or dairy cattle, require plenty of good-quality pasture, supplemental hay, fresh water, room to roam, and veterinarian care.

How many cows do I need to start a farm? ›

Most farmers start off with 2 to 5 cows. They may not have the money or experience to handle more. Focus on getting a few healthy cows, then turning them into profit so you are able to afford more. Sell your products at a local level to get started.

How do I start a cattle farm with no money? ›

How to Start a Farm with No Money
  1. Get Experience from Another Farmer.
  2. Look For Deals on the Market.
  3. Start Purchasing Livestock Young.
  4. Purchase a Good Truck.
  5. Never Loan nor Borrow Anything.
  6. Stock Up on Everything.
  7. Rent Out the Best Farm for You.
  8. Look Into Possible Grants.
Oct 18, 2021

Is cash cow profitable? ›

A cash cow is a profitable product or business that brings in a steady flow of income. It may also refer to a business venture that generates more profit than it cost to acquire or create.

What are the predictions for cattle in 2023? ›

ERS estimates 2023 production to slow year-over-year, dropping 7% to 26.4 billion pounds. This is largely due to the expectations for a smaller cattle inventory for the upcoming year. For the third consecutive year, drought has plagued much of the U.S. in 2022.

What is the value of a bred heifer? ›

Current bred cow values could range from less than $1000/head to nearly $2000/head in the current market across a wide range of quality, age, stage of gestation, and hide-color factors. Cow and heifer markets are likely to be even more dynamic in the coming months.

How much does a pregnant heifer cost? ›

The $963 is today's economic value of a preg-checked heifer that has seven consecutive calves for a typical Northern Plains ranch.

How much does 1 heifer cost? ›

Beef cows cost between $2,500-$3,000 and are bred for meat production. A dairy cow costs roughly between $900-$3,000 and is bred for milk production.

Will there be a beef shortage in 2023? ›

Beef. 2023 will also likely bring a beef shortage, meaning you may need to shell out more if you want to serve burgers and steak. Last year, a drought in Texas resulted in less grass feed for cows. At the same time, alternative feeds were expensive, so farmers sold their cattle earlier than anticipated.

Will meat prices go down 2023? ›

Beef and veal prices rose 1.3 percent in April 2023, the largest monthly increase since October 2021, though prices were still 0.5 percent lower than April 2022. Beef and veal prices are predicted to increase 0.7 percent in 2023, with a prediction interval of -4.1 to 5.9 percent.

What is the highest sold heifer? ›

A Highland heifer bred in Victoria has sold for $67,500. Demand for Highland cows is currently high. Sales of cow embryos have also increased.

How old should a heifer be to breed? ›

A: Breeding should occur when the heifer reaches puberty. Puberty is a function of breed, age, and weight. Most heifers will reach puberty and be bred by 12 to 14 months of age and will be between 55% and 65% of their mature weight when they first begin to exhibit estrous cycles.

How many times can you breed a heifer? ›

Theoretically, a cow could give birth more than once during a year if she rebreeds quickly. Good management practices when raising cattle recommend waiting to rebreed cattle until their calves are older. If a cow rebreeds within 82 days of calving, she will give birth in one year.

How many cattle do you need to be profitable? ›

Beef cattle: One to two acres per animal. Dairy cattle: One to two acres per cow. Goat: Half an acre per animal.

How much do cattle farmers make per cow? ›

Weaning rate was estimated at 85%, meaning that it is expected that a calf will be weaned and sold from 85% of the cows that were exposed to the bull. Based on these assumptions and adjusted for the weaning rate, average calf revenue is $655 per cow.

Can you have 1 cow on 1 acre? ›

Cows require a considerable amount of space when compared to other livestock. “You want at least an acre per cow,” Robbins said. “If they're going to have a baby, you want two acres for a cow-calf pair. That's the minimum amount of land.”

How profitable is one cow? ›

Based on these assumptions and adjusted for the weaning rate, average calf revenue is $725 per cow.


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