Anyone else calving early?

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TCRanch

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According to the gestation calculator, my girls were supposed to start calving March 5th. Wrong!!! Had one yesterday and another today. Both probably 75-80 lb. bull calves, appear fully developed & healthy, both mama's 11 years old (so their 10th calf). And I'm not the only one around here with early calves. General consensus is blaming the epic weather plus additional feed to keep the cows warm. Is that valid or reasonable? My guess would be yes, but curious if anyone has a better explanation.
 

Buck Randall

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There really isn't anything to explain, because cows calving two weeks before their "due" date has always been normal. Think of that date as the average of when cows bred on a certain day will calve, not the day when they should all be ready. Some cows will be as much as two weeks shorter, and some will be two weeks longer. With selection for calving ease (which is really just selection for shorter gestation), it's pretty normal for most cows to be calving well before what the textbook would call their due date.
 

Dave

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Mine all came from the sale yard and were preg checked there. That means some will be born early and some born late. And I will really be surprised if one is born when the vet said it would be. B bought 30 cows from a guy who said they could start January 1. One born a couple days before Christmas. One on February 12 and another on Tuesday. 27 of them? Today we were looking at the cows and he said it looks like we have March calves.... April calves too. The cows were supposed to be bred to a Waygu. The 3 that have calves so far the calves don't look Waygu to me. Someone might have been telling a story........
 
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TCRanch

TCRanch

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Thanks for the responses! I've just never had them calve so early with the exception of an obvious preemie. I figured anytime towards the end of Feb, but definitely not this early. Just thankful the worst of the cold/snow is supposed to be over.

As far as CE bulls, what's interesting is the two that have already calved were bred by my terminal bull - no way would I use him on my heifers. Speaking of which, better get them moved to the barn ASAP. And so it begins . . .
 

bird dog

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I think Fungus is on to something with his comments about early calves. I seem get a few real early but very few late. I would guess the average would be like 3 days early.
Its becoming very rare for them to be late. Of course this is only on the ones that I see in heat and get wrote down in my record book. Not much scientific research has gone on around here.
 

kentuckyguy

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I have a few due March 6th that I’m hoping will hold off till then. Still lots of ice and snow here.
As a rule of thumb most of mine are within a week five or take of the 283 day gestation period.
I usually try and have my calves a little later in March but if they are in heat and I’m off work I go ahead and AI them.
 

gcreekrch

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Interesting thoughts. The past several years we have pulled bulls out of our heifers so there is a final date. We always have them calve earlier than due date but last three years, the last heifer has calved on the last calendar date possible from breeding period.
 

Dsth

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I have heard several times that normal calving is considered 10 days before or after the due date. I have not seen any difference in cows/heifers bred to CE bulls. Seems like the first group of my cows have started about 2 weeks early the past couple of years and the last straggly ones calf past their due dates. Not sure why. 3 years ago my first heifer calved 20 days before due date with nice healthy calf. Could possibly be from weather and extra feed but I have not noticed any difference between nice fall weather needing into a mild winter and a short fall and nasty early winter weather. I have however noticed that the first calfers are usually the same cows, so my theory is that it is linked to genetics and factored in by weather and feed.
 

Nesikep

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the bull and the cow DEFINITELY both play a role in the gestation length.. I do think that repeatedly stacking short gestation length animals could eventually have ill effects... My herd has an average gestation of 288 days... The new bull I have may be a short gestation length bull, I've had 3 calves from him and I'm really scratching my head on if some of these cows were bred again later, since it did seem like I saw the bull with them a second time

Here's some data:
Prada, Bred May 4th, calved Feb 10th (281 days), 80 lb bull, she was only seen bred once.

Cenci, Bred April 28th, and seen again with the bull May 19th, calved Feb 10th, 70 lb bull, 292 days if it's the earlier date, 271 if the second.. She's a long gestation cow and has gone as long as 302 days before

Dusty, Heifer, bred Apr 30 and probably seen again May 17th, calved Feb 12, 80 lb bull, 295 if the first time, 278 if the second...

I'm scratching my head on this as to which are the correct breeding dates!
Here's a graph of 222 births according to gestation time and sex of calf..
1613931132345.png
 
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TCRanch

TCRanch

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I think Fungus is on to something with his comments about early calves. I seem get a few real early but very few late. I would guess the average would be like 3 days early.
Its becoming very rare for them to be late. Of course this is only on the ones that I see in heat and get wrote down in my record book. Not much scientific research has gone on around here.
Bingo! Check the pastures twice a day when I turn out the bulls, notepad & pen with me at all times. When in doubt which bull actually sired the calf, sometimes I have to wait until it hits the ground. Tall & rangy = Woody, looks like a freight train = Johnson, perfect prime Angus = Willy, and so forth. Dates the cow was bred are also subjective. Note when the bulls are sniffing around, note when she's in standing head, note when she's getting hunched by other cows & a bull isn't around (which generally means the bulls have already done their job so I leverage a day). Clearly, not an exact science!
 
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TCRanch

TCRanch

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So, basically, flip a coin. That baby comes out when it's ready - or when mama says so. Used to be, the only time I had one early was a true preemie. And all 3 mama's had hardware (probably not a coincidence).

I've always heard/read that bull calves need a little more time in the cooker & heifers are more likely to be early. Not my experience, with the exception of the preemies.
 

Katpau

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I calculate gestation on all cows I observe being bred. My herd average on the registered cows is 278 days. We are now on day 286 since the day the bulls were turned out. 43% of the herd has already calved with an average of 277 days gestation. Shortest gestation was 268 days on a first calf heifer and longest was 285 days, also a first calf heifer.

That last heifer had me worried. My heifers rarely go over 280 days. I got myself all worked up thinking maybe it was positioned wrong. Maybe it was getting too big. I started expecting the worst and hoping for the best. She went into labor just before dark, and I spied on her as best I could, but lost her in the woods and the dark after about half an hour. A short time later I heard her make that "What the heck is that?" call. I was able to find her and the new calf already trying to rise to its feet. All was well. She was licking it. I was thrilled to know that once again I worried for nothing. The calf was 86 pounds, but she delivered it less than an hour from when she first started cranking her tail.
 

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