Birth weights & cold

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Dana Kopp
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Birth weights & cold

Post by Dana Kopp » Mon Mar 20, 2006 3:13 pm

So my family and I have been debating this ourselves and I thought I'd bring it online to see what other's experiences were:

Our calves birth weights were slightly heavier this year overall. The calves from our bull that last year produced 70-80 lb calves have been 85-100 this year and the new bulls that we expected 70-85 pounders out of have been 85-95. We have had a fair amount of really cold, way below average temperatures this winter. I have read the research which supports my theory that the colder weather makes heavier calves but thought I'd see if anyone else was/had experiencing this.

The research found that for every degree below average temp there was approx 1 lb heavier on the calf, warmer winters had lighter calves, same pounds. This is the same reason fall calves are lighter weight than spring calves.

Our biggest debate is:
Do we use the bulls again?
Genetically we can, but we want light birth weight calves...are they going to just get heavier because the bulls will be older? There is no telling about our winters...if it is super cold again and THAT adds weight...AARGH!!


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Re: Birth weights & cold

Post by dun » Mon Mar 20, 2006 3:30 pm

Dana Kopp wrote:are they going to just get heavier because the bulls will be older?


He passes the same genes if he's 10 months or 10 years. The OWT about younger bulls throwing smaller calves is BS

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Re: Birth weights & cold

Post by SPRINGER FARMS MURRAY GRE » Mon Mar 20, 2006 4:34 pm

dun wrote:
Dana Kopp wrote:are they going to just get heavier because the bulls will be older?


He passes the same genes if he's 10 months or 10 years. The OWT about younger bulls throwing smaller calves is BS

dun



Dana, get you a good murray grey bull for more manageable birth weights and calves that will grow off and sell well!! ;-) :cboy:
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Post by Jeanne - Simme Valley » Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:36 am

Yes, the extreme cold increases BW - and Dun is absolutely correct - age of bull does not change his GENES. Age of dam can effect the size of the calf. 2 year old is still growing and "generally" doesn't provide as much nutrients to calf as a mature cow. But the bull only provides the sperm.
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Re: Birth weights & cold

Post by DiamondSCattleCo » Tue Mar 21, 2006 9:25 am

Dana Kopp wrote:Our calves birth weights were slightly heavier this year overall. The calves from our bull that last year produced 70-80 lb calves have been 85-100 this year and the new bulls that we expected 70-85 pounders out of have been 85-95.


In addition to what Dun and Jeanne posted, I'd like to ask if you had any additional calving troubles because of additional calf weight? Did you have to pull a greater percentage? If not, then why worry? I see my 100 lb calves up and getting a suck just as fast as the 70 lb calves. Herd nutrition ensures healthy, hardy calves.

The reason I ask is that I think people get too hung up on birth weights as an indicator of birthing problems. Sure, you don't want to see 120 lb calves on 1000 lb cows, but by the same token, I've watched my 1200 lb cows spitting out 100 lb calves all day long with nary an issue, due to the conformation of the bull being correct.

Rod

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Post by Jeanne - Simme Valley » Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:12 pm

Rod, I totally agree. Actually, John Pollak, the geneticist (sp?) at Cornell handles all the ASA EPD's. He would like to DROP the BW EPD. Says weight of calf is already included in the CE and is not as important as CE. He feels way toooo many bulls are castrated just because of the 100+ bw. I said yeah, maybe so, but I'm not about to "talk" a buyer into a heavy BW bull, and have him have one cow with a calving problem - than it's my reputation down the tube.
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Post by DiamondSCattleCo » Wed Mar 22, 2006 8:36 am

Jeanne - Simme Valley wrote:I said yeah, maybe so, but I'm not about to "talk" a buyer into a heavy BW bull, and have him have one cow with a calving problem - than it's my reputation down the tube.


Yeah, I'm not so sure about _not_ castrating the 100lb+ calves as CE does come up significantly after triple digits, especially on smaller framed cows. I don't mean to make it sound as though BW isn't important, its just not as important as many seem to feel it is. I certainly don't want to see birthweights creep up in my Shorthorns like they have in some breeds.

I do have a tendency to agree with Mr. Pollak about CE though. I've watched buyers skip by 90 lb BW bulls with great conformation and buy 80 lb BW bulls with square front shoulders and a hammer head.

In this particular circumstance though, where BW are 100lbs and under, if there weren't problems with calving, I see no good reason to get rid of the bull(s).

Rod

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Post by Susie David » Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:21 am

Dana...was the feed constant? We feed a higher ME feed during real cold weather and generally give the bred cows a better grade of alfalfa. I think that you have had more below zero nights on your side of the hills this year.
IMO the genetics don't change from year to year, the temperature theory is one to consider.
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BW/cold

Post by Dana Kopp » Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:38 pm

In response to the two main questions about an increase in problems and change in feed.

No, actually we haven't had any more increase in problems. In fact the calves out of our heifers are considerably lighter this year than last. The bull we used last year threw 95-100+ lb calves on all our heifers and 2nd calvers. Ouch! We sold him. Even with that we only had one medium-hard pull and one easy pull (his nose was off center). This year we didn't have to help any heifers at all, in fact they practically shot their calves out. The heifers calves probably averaged mid 80s and everyone was up and going good with the exception of the one that was a calf-sicle and ended up taking a hot bath in my sink. The rest of the calves varied from 72 to 100+ lbs out of two bulls, we helped one out but once we straightened his legs so he was a little more streamlined she pushed twice and he ended up in a big pile.

Feed is the same as the last several years, from the same fields, we do it all ourselves and it is pretty much wild grass and timothy. There is a little alfalfa in one field and some that we buy from the same guy every year as a supplement for super cold weather.

I am not sure what I was thinking when I typed the bull increase in bw for age part, I have been looking at some of the bw vs age calculations for cows - interesting stuff - I guess I can blame that on the fact that I really am blonde. Hmmm...

The reason we like smaller birth weights is because in our experience they tend to be faster to get up. We also have the 95-100 lbs calves that are up in minutes too, but more often they are up and nursing within an hour not several minutes. BUT when one is that big and isn't up fast or gets chilled, for whatever reason...they are too darn big for me to pick up! We also aren't around every second of every day so we expect our cows and heifers to be able to do it on their own. We want to "help" them out by choosing bulls that aren't going to throw Big, Dumb, Slow calves.

Personally you couldn't pay me to breed a bull with a 100 lb birthweight to my cows, even the ones that have done it in the past. We would rather have a smaller calf and potentially give up a few pounds a weaning than risk losing one by pushing the higher birthweights. Just our opinion...my husband thinks I think too much about all this stuff...
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Sink?

Post by KMacGinley » Fri Mar 24, 2006 7:58 pm

You must have a big sink. :D

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Re: Sink?

Post by Jeanne - Simme Valley » Sat Mar 25, 2006 8:07 am

KMacGinley wrote:You must have a big sink. :D

:D I was thinking the same thing. I have the biggest, deepest single sink I could buy, but I don't think I would attempt putting a calf in it - well maybe a 50# calf!! :shock:
My Schnauzer goes in the sink many times a day when it's muddy out (only the past 6 months on and off around here :shock: )
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bwt

Post by SEC » Sat Mar 25, 2006 8:41 am

Rod, you are a bull buyers dream. THere seems to lack the confidence on the bwt issue when lots of people don't actually have a clue what they weigh at birth.

I would rather not get a 100lb calf but there is little doubt that they are usually the biggest calves in the fall. As long as the calves aren't stupid, than bwt is fine. When I have had a calf that is stupid we will castrate him as there is no good in passing on calves that are this way. Regardless of bwt.

I was always told a cow will try to have a calf of at least 7% of their body weight. If that's the case it becomes relative.

I have the Cdn Angus Assoc, send me my adj. birthweights for interest sake. It's very interesting to see the adjustments for the calves

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Re: bwt

Post by Jeanne - Simme Valley » Sat Mar 25, 2006 9:31 am

SEC wrote:
I was always told a cow will try to have a calf of at least 7% of their body weight. If that's the case it becomes relative.


I've always heard 8%
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