Steer Calves

Things to Know About Steer Calves for Sale

Steer Calves

So, you have decided to raise steer calves to help with field and grass control, provide your own family with meat, to raise to sell to others for profit, or you are helping your child with their steer-focused 4-H project. Whatever the reason, there are several things to consider when you look for steer calves for sale.

Below are some basic things to know from Harrer’s Lost Lake Ranch before you head out to your first sale or auction to purchase steer calves.

First of all, you should go into this knowing that you should not just purchase one steer calf alone because isolation for them is extremely unhealthy. You have heard the saying that everyone needs a friend and steer calves are no different. You should plan to purchase at least two of these magnificent animals at your first sale.

You also want to make sure that you have enough land for your calves to grace. You should have at least two and a half acres of land that has prime grass growing throughout it to provide a good climate for your calves. You also need to consider what type of climate you have and how much grazing land you will have throughout the year to make accommodations so your calves can get their nutrition.

Grazing land is critical to growing steer calves which is the reason it is imperative for you to ensure that the grazing land is enough to accommodate the number of steer calves that you purchase since it is much better to have fewer cattle than you have land for than to have too many. You can check how much actual grazing area you have on your land by consulting Google Maps and using the area calculator that is available to outline the grassy locations that are fit for your calves to feed.

It is important to have a fence in place that is durable to keep your cattle on your property. You should also have two or more paddocks of land so your cattle can be rotated from area to area when grazing. An electric fence, metal fencing, or even a wooden fence will work well to map off your different pieces of grazing land. Each area will need not only grass, but a water source as well for your steer calves.

It is imperative that you know and understand the legal requirements of owning your own cattle. For example, you must register each calf with the NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing System as well as the TBfree which is the stock control system that is in place to keep calves from contracting tuberculosis (TB). Both programs are free to register with and very important for your future as a cattle owner and producer.

Types of Steer Calves to Consider

There are two different options when it comes to the age and type of steer calf you may want to purchase. This is one of the decisions you should make before you head out to a livestock sale so you will know exactly what you are looking for when it comes to a young steer.


The first option is a weaner calf. These calves are about eight to 12 weeks old, and you should purchase two as we talked about above since they do not like to be isolated from others. You should check to make sure the calves you are buying have already been grazing on grass and not just eating grain. You can feed them grain as you get them more used to their grass diet.


The smallest option you will have when you go to a sale for steer calves is the actual calf itself. The calves will be at least four days old, but it is better to purchase them when they are around a week old. If they are less than a week old, it will take more work for you since they will not be weaned yet and you will have to purchase milk powder to be able to feed them. It can also be a fun experience for kids if you want to make it a family affair, but keep in mind though, that this is a risky time for a calf, so you have to do a lot of hard work to ensure that it stays healthy and thriving. The isolation rule still applies so you should opt to purchase two or more calves instead of one by itself.

Pick a Breed

If you are looking for a milking breed, they are available through the dairy industry and are normally crossbred, possibly from a beef bull and a milking cow. Some of these breeds are great if you just want them to be a pet or if you want them for milk production, but the beef breeds are normally what people are looking for in a steer calf because they can be a money maker more so than their dairy counterparts.

To choose the best beef steer calf, you will want it to be at least four days old, but it is even better for it to be at least a week to 10 days old at the time of purchase. Your calf should weigh about 40 kilograms and should be full of energy with plenty of strength. This means that you should not buy a sick calf because it could die very suddenly or even bring some type of disease that can infect other cattle and livestock that you may already have on your property. To determine if the calf is healthy, you should ensure that it is alert, and its eyes are not sunken in but bright and focused. The calf’s ears should be alert and its rear end should not show any signs of diarrhea. You should check the calf’s knees to make sure they do not seem to be sore or painful and they should not have any swelling occurring. You should also check out the navel area for any infection or inflammation as well.

You should check with the farmer that is selling the steer calves to determine if they were fed colostrum in the hours following their birth. This substance from the mother’s milk can help facilitate better health in their digestive systems throughout their lives.

If you are looking at milking breed steer calves, there are several breeds you can choose from, including Holstein or Holstein Friesian, Jersey, Friesian, Kiwi Cross of a Jersey with a Friesian, or Ayrshire. When it comes to beef steer calves, the best breeds are Hereford, Angus, and Murray Grey.

Contact Us

The farmer or ranch from which you choose to purchase your steer calves is just as important as ensuring that the calf itself is healthy and strong. You will want to rely on a trusted source that has had ongoing success in the livestock industry. To purchase your steer calves from a reliable source, you can simply buy high-quality livestock from one of our livestock auctions at Harrer’s Lost Lake Ranch today! They have been in the cattle business for decades and have been proven to be a top-notch resource for the livestock industry. Contact us today and you will be on your journey of purchasing top-of-the-line cattle for your farm or ranch.