I like the idea of the breeder paying all the costs associated with implanting the recips. as well as paying a premium for the calves at weaning.The owner of the recip herd, has to feel that he is making money... or he will feel like the breeder is taking advantage of him. Like every partnership, each party has to benefit. I for one, feel that you can pay a fair premium as you do not have to maintain a reip herd of your own, which is a major cost. The only catch may be in how much say the breeder will have in how the ET calves are grown out while they are on the recip moms. I guess if the breeder feels that the calves are not being managed properly, he should have an option in the contract that allows him to early wean the calves and take possession of them earlier. ... and I feel a written contract is a must. It does not have to be long and wordy, but it must have the basics on paper and signed by both parties. This will save many hard feelings and disputes.
I have seen calf splits work for both parties as well. I have also seen these splits not work well as well. If the breeder is a " known" herd, with established markets for his calves, he will usually be able to sell his share of the calves for more than the cooperator herd owner. This may not cause problems, but i have seen cases where it has. If you think the split is the best way to go, have the breeder or the cooperator herd owner split the calves into two groups. Whoever does not do the split then gets first pick . This way, no one gets all the better calves in one group.There are many other ways to do this as well, such as alternate picks.
I have been considering using a cooperator herd ( s) as well. The main problem I have is finding cooperator herds close enough to me so that I can watch the calves develop. I think it is important to at least see the calves two or three times through the summer so that you know the calves, and see how they have developed from birth.