Consistently Low Milk Production ?

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Stocker Steve
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Consistently Low Milk Production ?

Postby Stocker Steve » Mon Sep 25, 2017 1:51 pm

We are retaining a lot of heifers and flipping the cow herd. We are using simi angus bulls so there is plenty of growth in the genetics. Each year we seem to have a couple heifers - - perhaps 10 to 15% - - that don't raise a nice calf and repeat that performance as 3 yr olds. They breed back right away but I am not impressed.

Is this a pretty typical percentage for poor milk production?
Any reason not to cut them after the first calf?
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Re: Consistently Low Milk Production ?

Postby TexasBred » Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:09 pm

Stocker Steve wrote:We are retaining a lot of heifers and flipping the cow herd. We are using simi angus bulls so there is plenty of growth in the genetics. Each year we seem to have a couple heifers - - perhaps 10 to 15% - - that don't raise a nice calf and repeat that performance as 3 yr olds. They breed back right away but I am not impressed.

Is this a pretty typical percentage for poor milk production?
Any reason not to cut them after the first calf?

I don't have any proof but the numbers are reasonable. Milk production is hereditary but influenced by the quality and quantity of feed being fed. Read somewhere once that the same gene that gives a cow her capacity for high milk production also has a tendency to kill embryos. No idea if that is true or not. I do know high producing dairy cattle are often hard to get bred.
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Re: Consistently Low Milk Production ?

Postby Workinonit Farm » Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:40 pm

Is it possible that other calves are 'stealing' from these heifers, thus reducing the amount of milk that their own calves receive?
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Re: Consistently Low Milk Production ?

Postby Aaron » Mon Sep 25, 2017 4:32 pm

Stocker Steve wrote:We are retaining a lot of heifers and flipping the cow herd. We are using simi angus bulls so there is plenty of growth in the genetics. Each year we seem to have a couple heifers - - perhaps 10 to 15% - - that don't raise a nice calf and repeat that performance as 3 yr olds. They breed back right away but I am not impressed.

Is this a pretty typical percentage for poor milk production?
Any reason not to cut them after the first calf?


Same numbers here - about 10% roughly. But they do decent on the 2nd year or they go to town. If they do a crap job and come up open, they are gone after the 1st one.

That all being said, my definition of a crap calf off a 1st timer is one that is at least 50 lbs lighter than the average calf weight in the herd.
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Re: Consistently Low Milk Production ?

Postby Son of Butch » Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:31 pm

From my experience it seems all classes of animals always separate into 1/3s
Top 1/3 middle 1/3 bottom 1/3

In the Feedlot 1/3 finish fast...do great 1/3 average 1/3 slow (and the bottom 1/3 of the bottom 1/3 just plain suck)
same with calf crop 1/3 shine 1/3 average 1/3 lag

dividing the bottom 1/3 again into 1/3s = 11.1%

So Yes I would say 11.1% is the expected junk percent in a cow herd 11.1% in a group of heifers ect.
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Re: Consistently Low Milk Production ?

Postby 1982vett » Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:30 pm

I guess in theory, a first calver @ 2 years old isn't fully matured. At 3 she might put what she is using to grow into milk..... hard call. But if the 3 year old can't do the job you expect and you rule out genetics, I'd think it would be time to move on.
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Re: Consistently Low Milk Production ?

Postby Stocker Steve » Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:07 pm

1982vett wrote:I guess in theory, a first calver @ 2 years old isn't fully matured. At 3 she might put what she is using to grow into milk..... hard call.


I looked hard at the poor milking heifers, and there is some trend towards being narrow/lower capacity. Could be less feed intake for that kind.
I have one 3 year old that has her second smallish calf. She was a little thin last year, and is smooth and greasy this year... Her calf is a tad bigger than last years but still a cull.
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Re: Consistently Low Milk Production ?

Postby dun » Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:23 pm

This year we have a first calver that has the smallest calf at weaning and it's the oldest calf. The strange part is, her full sister consistantly has one of the top 1 or 2 calves at weaning. Both bred to the same cleanup bull last year, the older cows calf out weighed the younger ones by 122 lbs and is 2 weeks younger.
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Re: Consistently Low Milk Production ?

Postby angus9259 » Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:48 am

Workinonit Farm wrote:Is it possible that other calves are 'stealing' from these heifers, thus reducing the amount of milk that their own calves receive?


This seems to me a pretty consistent problem that doesn't really ever get factored in. Likewise, you can end up with a monster calf that has nothing to do with its momma because it's learned to nurse off a half dozen other cows!
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Re: Consistently Low Milk Production ?

Postby Stocker Steve » Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:30 am

I had a monster bull calf two years ago, and another have one monster bull calf this year, that were stealing milk. This is one way to get a EPD curve bender bull! :banana: Could contact an AI stud... ;-)

Interesting thing is seeing how much growth potential many modern calves have.
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Re: Consistently Low Milk Production ?

Postby Nesikep » Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:31 pm

I find milk thieves never steel enough to make the difference between a good calf and a bad one.. end of the day they might be 20-50 lbs max heavier at weaning, and the one that got stolen from will probably have less that that as a deficit.

I have had some cows that started a little slow but then turned up the wick on their 3rd calve and now routinely make the BEST calves of the herd.. First was below average, second was average, and from there on they were good to go. Perhaps they were a little shy and didn't get as much food, etc I can deal with them having one smaller calf for the first try as long as they make it up later. Chroma was one of these.

I've also had some that outdid themselves on their first calf and come up short on the 2nd, again finally getting into the swing of it for their 3rd.. Kama would be such a cow, raised two this year coming up to 900 lbs total at 205 days, she's only about 1200 lbs
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Re: Consistently Low Milk Production ?

Postby Workinonit Farm » Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:16 pm

angus9259 wrote:
Workinonit Farm wrote:Is it possible that other calves are 'stealing' from these heifers, thus reducing the amount of milk that their own calves receive?


This seems to me a pretty consistent problem that doesn't really ever get factored in. Likewise, you can end up with a monster calf that has nothing to do with its momma because it's learned to nurse off a half dozen other cows!


This is why I mentioned it. I have noticed this kind of thing, on and off, over the years both here at home and where I used to work. It isn't an unusual thing for a heifer/new mother to allow another calf to suck or even notice that another calf has snuck in while her own is nursing. same with a calf who manages to wangle its way on to the teat of every cow or heifer that will put up with it.
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Re: Consistently Low Milk Production ?

Postby Nesikep » Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:27 pm

Some thieves are just so persistent that they eventually get their way.. the cow learns to give up after a while, and makes it easier for future generations of thieves!
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Re: Consistently Low Milk Production ?

Postby Nite Hawk » Sun Oct 22, 2017 10:41 pm

Are the lower producers a bit on the thin side? I have found cows that had a rough winter, and came up a bit thinner in the spring usually produce less milk, that is why one tries to keep the flesh on them.
I haven't ever heard of high producing cows "killing their calves" I do know that sometimes the high producers take a bit longer to start cycling again after calving. From what I understand I thing it is the high prolactin in their blood stream that slows the ovulation down, and the high stress on the body. It seems that high producing milk cows often don't have a decent heat until about their 2-3 month. Might be able to cycle them with a needle, but the milking stress is so high I prefer to leave them alone if possible.
Also, it depends on what kind of feed they are getting, protein etc, also if they are low on the pecking order they may be getting pushed out, and low feed means low milk production..
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