Raising dairy heifers until they are ready to enter the milking herd is a substantial investment, so having a clear, detailed contract is important to outline the responsibilities and expectations of both parties. When writing a contract, the first details to be determined are how long the heifers will be raised and what stage or stages of growth the contract will cover. The next major consideration to determine is the cost of raising the heifers.

Although many contracts are written based on a daily feeding rate, some contracts use other strategies to determine pricing, such as a set charge per pound of gain. In addition to negotiating the cost for raising heifers, including details as to what the expectations are for heifer growth and development is important. Also, be sure to discuss and outline these issues in your contract:

  • Who will absorb the cost when a heifer dies?
  • Which party pays for vaccinations and any veterinary expenses?
  • Which party is responsible for transportation costs?
  • Details and expectations for breeding heifers if heifers will be raised during breeding.
  • Information on expected age and size at breeding, as well as party responsible for paying synchronization and breeding costs and how breeding decisions will be made.

When dairy heifers are being raised by a third party, having a written contract in place is essential to outline the terms of the agreement and to clarify who’s responsible for the various expenses and management tasks.