Contract Heifer Rearing

Published 24 March 14

This option may be attractive to farmers who lack the necessary resources on their own units, such as labour, time or buildings, to rear the productive, well-grown heifers they require. Heifer rearing contracts usually apply to heifers delivered to a contract rearer between 2 to 6 months of age and being returned to the farmer at between 4 and 6 weeks prior to calving. Like the flying herd, this method of rearing replacements can expose the herd to biosecurity risks, albeit to a lesser extent.

Several different types on contract are used:

  • A per animal per day contract, where a flat rate fee per animal per day based on the actual rearing costs is paid by the farmer
  • A per kilogram of weight gain contract, based on a simple delivery weight to the rearer and return weight to the farmer, so growth rate per day is calculated. The potential flaw in this system is that care is required not to produce over-fat heifers
  • A sell and buy-back contract, the farmer selling the calves to the rearer with the principal right to purchase back the same heifers at 4 to 6 weeks before calving. This gives the contract rearer full control of the rearing system but he suffers all losses associated with the rearing period
  • A full contract, with the farmer setting the rearing policy, covering the cost of any deaths and providing feed, semen and medicines, while the rearer provides the labour and facilities

It is imperative that contracts define each party's responsibilities and that the rearer is insured for any third-party claims involving the contract-reared heifers.

DairyCo have template contracts available for producers to use in their businesses, please email for copy.