As dairy farms grow and specialize in milking cows, one enterprise that may be removed from the dairy farm to allow for milk cow herd expansion is heifer raising. Michigan State University economists Christopher Wolf and Stephen Harsh say custom heifer raising is increasingly common across the country and purchasing heifers may be preferred to raising heifers. However, these alternatives are not suitable for all dairy farmers. Wolf and Harsh examine heifer enterprise costs relative to using a custom raiser or purchasing heifers. They also identify factors that should be considered in making the proper decision relative to the heifer enterprise.          

The basic issues when considering whether an enterprise should be kept are whether profit will improve and whether using outside custom service or purchasing heifers is consistent with the dairy producer’s methods and goals. The heifer raising decision may be driven by the need for a new heifer facility or more room for the milking herd. Read more.