Over Conditioned

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Over Conditioned

Post by Bright Raven » Mon May 20, 2019 6:03 am

What are the most significant health and welfare drawbacks to over conditioned cows? Excluding economic.

I run a herd of approximately 20 momma cows and am 100 % AI. Despite the comments that over conditioning adversely affects fertility, I have not experienced that. In fact, on the contrary, fertility in my herd is outstanding. For four consecutive years, every cow has bred back in the 60 days postpartum breeding period. AI conception on first service is 80 %.

Regarding calving issues, I have not lost a single calf during partum in the last four years. On average, I assist a couple cows every year during the calving season - all my calves are born September/October. The assist is not needed only makes me feel better. I bring them into the birthing pasture away from black Vultures and where I can assist. In addition, my calves are far from dinks! This year, my average birth weight was 88 pounds. My running average is 86. The largest calf this past fall was 125. Another was 112 pounds. The 125 pound calf needed some low level assistance by using only chains - no jacking. The cow that had the 112 pounder delivered in about 10 minutes. No assist and she was one of the most over conditioned cows in the herd.

What I worry about most is the stress that over conditioning places on their body. I think and I haven't experienced it yet, is that over conditioning will adversely affect longevity.


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Re: Over Conditioned

Post by Redgully » Mon May 20, 2019 6:39 am

I think you have more problems calving if in the first six months of gestation you have a rapid weight gain. There is a difference between fat and good condition. If you have fat heifers they deposit a lot of fat in their udders and will never milk to their potential. I do think dodgy feet break down faster if a cow is pushing it's size but funny enough in a cow with good feet can actually help keep them ground down and looking good, only my opinion from my own experience.

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Re: Over Conditioned

Post by Bright Raven » Mon May 20, 2019 6:44 am

Redgully wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 6:39 am
I think you have more problems calving if in the first six months of gestation you have a rapid weight gain. There is a difference between fat and good condition. If you have fat heifers they deposit a lot of fat in their udders and will never milk to their potential. I do think dodgy feet break down faster if a cow is pushing it's size but funny enough in a cow with good feet can actually help keep them ground down and looking good, only my opinion from my own experience.
I watch my developing heifers closer than the cows or bull calves. All the calves get a feed mix starting at about 4 to 6 weeks old. It is put out in a feeder by bucket. So limited feeding. After weaning, the heifers go into the smallest pasture where they never get any grain from then on. But even there, they get enough grass that they gain and put on weight. I watch their udders. This year particularly. The grass is outstanding.

Regarding the first six months of weight gain in cows. That is exactly when mine gain the most. I calve in the fall. The cows are on hay and nursing. It pulls off a good amount of conditioning. Then about mid March, they go on pasture and they gain that weight back quickly.
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Re: Over Conditioned

Post by Hardnosecattleco » Mon May 20, 2019 6:57 am

If your not experiencing problems I wouldn't worry to much about it then. Me personally I don't like my cows over conditioned just as my personal preference. Those conception numbers tho are nice! Who do u buy semen threw? What bulls do u use? Way off topic but conception numbers like that impress me

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Re: Over Conditioned

Post by Bright Raven » Mon May 20, 2019 7:02 am

Hardnosecattleco wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 6:57 am
If your not experiencing problems I wouldn't worry to much about it then. Me personally I don't like my cows over conditioned just as my personal preference. Those conception numbers tho are nice! Who do u buy semen threw? What bulls do u use? Way off topic but conception numbers like that impress me
I buy most of my semen from the big Cooperatives. Genex, Select Sires, ABS. I don't experiment with bulls that have real short track records. I have Simmentals. I like Cowboy Cut, Upgrade, Lock N Load 1143Y, HPF Optimizer, Uno Mas, Grandmaster, Beacon, etc. I did buy a cane of Shell Shocked from Doug Parke in Paris, Kentucky.

I breed on natural heats. I have a very small operation and stay here full time (retired). That helps.
Last edited by Bright Raven on Mon May 20, 2019 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Over Conditioned

Post by Bright Raven » Mon May 20, 2019 7:17 am

Redgully wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 6:39 am
I think you have more problems calving if in the first six months of gestation you have a rapid weight gain. There is a difference between fat and good condition. If you have fat heifers they deposit a lot of fat in their udders and will never milk to their potential. I do think dodgy feet break down faster if a cow is pushing it's size but funny enough in a cow with good feet can actually help keep them ground down and looking good, only my opinion from my own experience.
Redgully.

I wanted to come back to the fat deposition in heifers. Glad you raised that. I omitted that. It is my number one concern even over longevity. I have a heifer now - a Broadway that was 112 at birth. She is out of a big cow and Broadway is a growth bull. She is huge. The biggest heifer I have raised here. She also is putting on fat. My calves are gentle so I can palpate their udder in the pasture. I am a little concerned about her. The grass is outstanding.
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Re: Over Conditioned

Post by Redgully » Mon May 20, 2019 7:40 am

Bright Raven wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 7:17 am
Redgully wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 6:39 am
I think you have more problems calving if in the first six months of gestation you have a rapid weight gain. There is a difference between fat and good condition. If you have fat heifers they deposit a lot of fat in their udders and will never milk to their potential. I do think dodgy feet break down faster if a cow is pushing it's size but funny enough in a cow with good feet can actually help keep them ground down and looking good, only my opinion from my own experience.
Redgully.

I wanted to come back to the fat deposition in heifers. Glad you raised that. I omitted that. It is my number one concern even over longevity. I have a heifer now - a Broadway that was 112 at birth. She is out of a big cow and Broadway is a growth bull. She is huge. The biggest heifer I have raised here. She also is putting on fat. My calves are gentle so I can palpate their udder in the pasture. I am a little concerned about her. The grass is outstanding.
I don't worry too much myself but the dairy guys can have coronaries when they visit and see the condition of my heifers. I breed red polls which naturally have good milk. I did have two heifers that got over conditioned as i too have good pastures. I don't feed grain but red polls excell on grass alone. These two have struggled a bit in feeding their calves. What i have noticed is their calves are suckling twice as much as the others. The other cows seem to be able to satisfy their calves in one go and they then sit and wander around for a few hours. One of the cows that got over fat as a heifer is on her third calf now and still the same. But their calves still grow well. I breed on natural heats and my system is simple, if i see her standing, four hours later she gets a straw. My semen ranges from the 1980s to the latest stuff. Admittedly these days it is a hobby and i only have 7 cows now but i run very close to 95% strike. I have one cow, as a hiefer i couldn't get through her cervix and as a cow i can't, and she's never missed! The only ones i have that didn't take there was a reason, i.e. ovarian cyst, metritis, to soon after calving.

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Re: Over Conditioned

Post by NEFarmwife » Mon May 20, 2019 9:05 am

We have a cow that I call Mary Antoinette because she loves her cake. She must LOVE the feed too because I think she gains ten pounds just looking at it. I have never ever, in my life... seen a cow this FAT. She calved nearly 2 months ago and looks like she's holding in 6 more babies. We went to work her the other day and she got stuck in the alley and wouldn't fit in our silencer.

She did not take to AI. Her calf was born late. She calved from one of our best herd bulls from Herbster so I am tickled about that. But if she doesn't move back up into our calving window, she's gone. I do wonder if she calved later because of her obesity.

She was not over-conditioned when we got her. It's like she's one of those girls who never lose the baby weight.

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Re: Over Conditioned

Post by Bright Raven » Mon May 20, 2019 9:21 am

NEFarmwife wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 9:05 am
We have a cow that I call Mary Antoinette because she loves her cake. She must LOVE the feed too because I think she gains ten pounds just looking at it. I have never ever, in my life... seen a cow this FAT. She calved nearly 2 months ago and looks like she's holding in 6 more babies. We went to work her the other day and she got stuck in the alley and wouldn't fit in our silencer.

She did not take to AI. Her calf was born late. She calved from one of our best herd bulls from Herbster so I am tickled about that. But if she doesn't move back up into our calving window, she's gone. I do wonder if she calved later because of her obesity.

She was not over-conditioned when we got her. It's like she's one of those girls who never lose the baby weight.
I have 3 that are like that. They just stay fat through nursing and hay feeding. Most of mine fall off some when they go on hay and have a big calf pulling on them. But all 3 have no problem delivering, breeding back, or functioning. I suspect their longevity will be where the weight takes its toll.
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Re: Over Conditioned

Post by TCRanch » Mon May 20, 2019 9:26 am

Steamroller was the poster-cow for over conditioned. Fat when we bought her, always looked bred, clocked in at 2300 while 8 months bred. And yet she was a prolific breeder, always one of the first to calve, perfect udder, perfect disposition. Her downfall was bad feet - quite possibly because she was so fat. We have some big girls but none of the others are/were fat like old Roller so it's not like we're over feeding. I've kept 3 of her daughters & numerous granddaughters, none of which are fat and I've yet to have a foot problem.

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Re: Over Conditioned

Post by sim.-ang.king » Mon May 20, 2019 9:27 am

AI has a higher conception rate, so a fat cow has an easier time breeding. Fall breeding also helps the fat ones along.
Try getting them bull bred in June-Aug, and you'll find out what problems over conditioning causes.
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Re: Over Conditioned

Post by Bright Raven » Mon May 20, 2019 9:42 am

sim.-ang.king wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 9:27 am
AI has a higher conception rate, so a fat cow has an easier time breeding. Fall breeding also helps the fat ones along.
Try getting them bull bred in June-Aug, and you'll find out what problems over conditioning causes.
QUESTION: Should a seedstock producer select against genetic lines that naturally stay over conditioned?
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Re: Over Conditioned

Post by bigbluegrass » Mon May 20, 2019 10:22 am

Another concern that hasn't been mentioned with over conditioned cows is how they handle the summer heat. My fattest cows (and steers) are always the ones panting and showing heat stress once it gets hot out. The fat ones will be looking for shade and a water hole. At least that is how it is here.

I would not select against cows that stay over conditioned, UNLESS they were weaning a below average calf.

Last year the cow who raised the biggest calf for me, was a small, thin cow. She might weigh 900 lbs and weaned a 595 lb calf. I know her calf weight because of the sale barn scale, I don't know her weight for certain. She is half Jersey and half angus. Until I got the weaning weights back I had actually considered selling her because she looks so thin. She has earned a place in my herd for the foreseeable future, despite her thin appearance.
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Re: Over Conditioned

Post by Bright Raven » Mon May 20, 2019 10:30 am

bigbluegrass wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 10:22 am
Another concern that hasn't been mentioned with over conditioned cows is how they handle the summer heat. My fattest cows (and steers) are always the ones panting and showing heat stress once it gets hot out. The fat ones will be looking for shade and a water hole. At least that is how it is here.

I would not select against cows that stay over conditioned, UNLESS they were weaning a below average calf.

Last year the cow who raised the biggest calf for me, was a small, thin cow. She might weigh 900 lbs and weaned a 595 lb calf. I know her calf weight because of the sale barn scale, I don't know her weight for certain. She is half Jersey and half angus. Until I got the weaning weights back I had actually considered selling her because she looks so thin. She has earned a place in my herd for the foreseeable future, despite her thin appearance.
That is my thought too. If a cow holds good condition on the same inputs as the other cows she is compared to, that would mean she is more efficient or as the term used often, "Easy Keeper".

Afterall, that is the purpose in feed efficiency studies, to determine the best performance on the same inputs.

By the same token, Sim is correct, they have to perform.
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Re: Over Conditioned

Post by Brookhill Angus » Mon May 20, 2019 11:08 am

Bright Raven wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 6:03 am
What are the most significant health and welfare drawbacks to over conditioned cows? Excluding economic.

I run a herd of approximately 20 momma cows and am 100 % AI. Despite the comments that over conditioning adversely affects fertility, I have not experienced that. In fact, on the contrary, fertility in my herd is outstanding. For four consecutive years, every cow has bred back in the 60 days postpartum breeding period. AI conception on first service is 80 %.

Regarding calving issues, I have not lost a single calf during partum in the last four years. On average, I assist a couple cows every year during the calving season - all my calves are born September/October. The assist is not needed only makes me feel better. I bring them into the birthing pasture away from black Vultures and where I can assist. In addition, my calves are far from dinks! This year, my average birth weight was 88 pounds. My running average is 86. The largest calf this past fall was 125. Another was 112 pounds. The 125 pound calf needed some low level assistance by using only chains - no jacking. The cow that had the 112 pounder delivered in about 10 minutes. No assist and she was one of the most over conditioned cows in the herd.

What I worry about most is the stress that over conditioning places on their body. I think and I haven't experienced it yet, is that over conditioning will adversely affect longevity.
The only issue I can see is that people gawk at one’s cattle from the road in amazement, at least that’s been my main issue. Other than that it’s all good. Keep on the path you are going. Great cattle need great nutrition.
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