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Birth Weight

ffamom

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Our largest calves have been sired by low birth weight bulls according to EPD's. Research was done to find a negative numbered bull. So far, 3 calves have hit the ground, all heifer calves, and all were over 80lbs with the last one weighing about 100 lbs. Upon doing more research on progeny, most of the calves that were registered were bred and recorded by the owner of the bull.

Am I reading the paper wrong? Did I want a higher number? If I did read them correctlly, how many people do you think record the weights they want reported rather than the actual measurements?

Not saying this happened, but not what we expected according to the numbers. These heifers were not grained. Not even a good year for the pastures because of the drought.
 

Frankie

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ffamom":1uqw2eyn said:
Our largest calves have been sired by low birth weight bulls according to EPD's. Research was done to find a negative numbered bull. So far, 3 calves have hit the ground, all heifer calves, and all were over 80lbs with the last one weighing about 100 lbs. Upon doing more research on progeny, most of the calves that were registered were bred and recorded by the owner of the bull.

Accuracies are important. The Angus Assn keeps EPD accuracies at .85 until data is reported across the board, not just by the owner.

Am I reading the paper wrong? Did I want a higher number? If I did read them correctlly, how many people do you think record the weights they want reported rather than the actual measurements?

Were you looking at Birth Weight EPD or Calving Ease EPD? You want a low BW number, but a high calving ease number.

I don't believe many people record fake weights. There's just no way that it will pay off for them in the end. If a bull throws big calves, we'll know about it one way or another. And if he kills a few heifers because of it, the bull and the owner will be marked as unreliable.

Not saying this happened, but not what we expected according to the numbers. These heifers were not grained. Not even a good year for the pastures because of the drought.

EPDs are EXPECTED, not guaranteed. It's a good idea to look at the bull's sire and dam's EPD, also. A young bull's EPD is often half of their EPDs added together. If one of them has a +5 BW EPD and the other has a -5, the bull might have a 0 BW EPD. But that will be a low accuracy EPD. As more data gets reported, he'll likely take after one or the other of his parents and either throw the +5 calves or the -5 calves.

I'm speaking of Angus EPDs here. If you're using a composite bull of some sort, everything I know about EPDs goes out the window. :) I'd be interested in the bull you're using though. Would you care to post his name or reg #?
 

ffamom

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I look at the sire's sire and his CE is 14 and BW -0.5. Sire's dam did not have a calving ease number, but 2.3 for BW.

Sire we used did not have a CE number. BW was -0.2. However, when checking his progeny there were 8 out of the 56 with BW of 4.

I feel uncomfortable posting the name of the bull, but I will not use this bull again. Only one left to calf from him. Will make sure she is in the pasture closest to the house in case her calf needs to be pulled as well.

Frankie,
Thanks for the clarification on the numbers.
 

SRBeef

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Here's a link to what I think is a very helpful article in the August 2009 Hereford World Magazine about understanding EPD's:

http://www.herefordworld.org/_HW/Documents/0809_EPDs.pdf

As you can see, the Calving Ease (CE) EPD is higher for more "calving ease" bulls. BW as a negative number means the calves will likely weigh less than the average. But you want to couple that with a positive WW so that a lighter calf grow to a good weaning weight, not just stay small...

My beginners interpretation from the article...

A would assume the Angus EPD's are the same but know nothing about breeds other than Hereford. The American Hereford Assn EPD inquiry has a bar chart option which is a very quick and easy way of evaluating EPD's. (Thanks to HS for introducing me to them).

Jim
 

Bez+

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ffamom":3ororvc9 said:
Our largest calves have been sired by low birth weight bulls according to EPD's. Research was done to find a negative numbered bull. So far, 3 calves have hit the ground, all heifer calves, and all were over 80lbs with the last one weighing about 100 lbs. Upon doing more research on progeny, most of the calves that were registered were bred and recorded by the owner of the bull.

Am I reading the paper wrong? Did I want a higher number? If I did read them correctlly, how many people do you think record the weights they want reported rather than the actual measurements?

Not saying this happened, but not what we expected according to the numbers. These heifers were not grained. Not even a good year for the pastures because of the drought.

People love to hit up low birth weight bulls and talk about any probs they have - however the other half of the equation is often ignored.

The bull might not be the problem.

The mother might be your problem.

While you might not like the weights - any cow unable to comfortably handle what you are reporting here - should not be in the breeding game in the first place - and the more you keep using those low BW bulls the sooner you will have problems - especially if you keep retaining heifers like we see and hear about on this board by a multitude of members.

Personally I would have no problem with those numbers in my herd - the important part is were they unassisted?

Cheers

Bez+
 

angus9259

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ffamom":nsp6vwgb said:
Our largest calves have been sired by low birth weight bulls according to EPD's. Not saying this happened, but not what we expected according to the numbers. These heifers were not grained. Not even a good year for the pastures because of the drought.

Same thing happened to us. EPDs are no guarantee of anything - they are a very modest tool. There are simply way too many factors involved.

One of my customers bought some cows from me bred to calving ease bulls. 4 of 5 calves hit the ground fine. The fifth, a bull calf out of a heifer required SIGNIFICANT assistance. The customer was very unhappy with me.
 

robert

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I agree with Bez+, if the calves were all unassisted then the calving ease is there, if you had to pull them all it may be the bull or it may be the cows, have they been selected for laying down and having a calf or are they from a style of manangement that routinely assists? Personally I've seen more calving problems with cows/heifers losing weight going into calving than those that some consider too fat, you alluded to poor pasture, were the cows losing weight? The bull is half the genetics but the dam is the other half plus 100% of the environment!
 

ffamom

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If 100 lbs is an exceptable weight, what you say is an unacceptable birth weight? I know I would be able to sell a bull if his birth weight is greater than 80 lbs.
 

Bez+

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ffamom":3gt0vt1y said:
I know I would be able to sell a bull if his birth weight is greater than 80 lbs.

If this is the case, what is the problem? They are sold all the time - you are now confusing me

If you had intended that sentence to have a "not" in it - then I would say you are not only very wrong - you are dealing with people who do not know much about breeding.

Remember there is another half to the equation and that is the cow. Almost every small holder expert does this and so do some of the big boys - but it is really prevalent with the hobbyist. Epd is a guide only. No matter what anyone tells you - never forget that.

Also - there is a real danger in continually retaining those low birth weigh animals - especially when they are retained generation after generation as this tends to continue to reduce the size of the female - and in turn it often affects their ability to have a calf. I have all sorts of cows and heifers that have or have had - and indeed will have in the future - calves on their own - well out of site of human eyes - if they need to be watched like a hawk I would not want them.

Calving ease SHOULD NOT always be considered to be a weight issue either.

You would be surprized at how many people do not know this.

There are dozens of highly thought of bulls in any breed that have a larger birth weight than 100 pounds - not always an animal I would use but I think you are putting far too much into this "weight issue". And there are lots with far lower birth weights that I would not use.

Case in point - someone recently wrote - no Herefords - they have a big head. It showed me they know little about calving. I have actually compared head diametre at birth - and yes I have a few black bulls on the place now and then - there is little to no difference in the majority of cases - and just as often as not the black calves were larger and had as much potential for trouble.

Nothing in life is a guarantee - especially an epd.

I am an accidental poet as well it seems.

People actually believe them to be gospel - and that is a mistake.

If a heifer/cow cannot handle a higher birth weight when it happens, I would not have her in the herd - and the older she gets the more important it becomes as she gets closer and closer with increasing age to having that one big calf. Not due to genetics, but simply due to the odds.

In all honesty I also believe a lot of folks have probs because they breed on age rather than size - and start them off too small.

Have fun and if those calves turn out I would use the same guy again - after all - no one had trouble this time - so next time they will hopefully and probably do just as well.

All breeding is a bit of a crap shoot despite what anyone tells you.

And do not be surprized if that larger heifer does well and also has SMALLER calves than the others.

You seem to have been 100% unassisted. That is the important factor.

You were fine and will be fine.

Have fun.

Bez+
 

msscamp

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ffamom":jlsd8mx6 said:
Our largest calves have been sired by low birth weight bulls according to EPD's. Research was done to find a negative numbered bull. So far, 3 calves have hit the ground, all heifer calves, and all were over 80lbs with the last one weighing about 100 lbs. Upon doing more research on progeny, most of the calves that were registered were bred and recorded by the owner of the bull.

Am I reading the paper wrong? Did I want a higher number? If I did read them correctlly, how many people do you think record the weights they want reported rather than the actual measurements?

Not saying this happened, but not what we expected according to the numbers. These heifers were not grained. Not even a good year for the pastures because of the drought.

I think you are forgetting the other half of the equation - the calf's mother. EPD's are not a guarantee, they are only an estimation of what the bulls contribution will be based on prior calves. Mitochondrial DNA also contributes to that calf. Now, I am not smart enough, or experienced enough to fully understand the complete effects of mitochondrial DNA, but it is my understanding that it contributes much more than the bull does with regard to the calves.
 

Bez+

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I think you are forgetting the other half of the equation - the calf's mother. EPD's are not a guarantee, they are only an estimation of what the bulls contribution will be based on prior calves. Mitochondrial DNA also contributes to that calf. Now, I am not smart enough, or experienced enough to fully understand the complete effects of mitochondrial DNA, but it is my understanding that it contributes much more than the bull does with regard to the calves.

Good morning mmscamp - it is about 0730 here - I think it is time for you westerners to get some sleep! It must almost be 2230 your time :D

Cheers

Bez+
 

msscamp

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Bez+":2q8q0ar1 said:
I think you are forgetting the other half of the equation - the calf's mother. EPD's are not a guarantee, they are only an estimation of what the bulls contribution will be based on prior calves. Mitochondrial DNA also contributes to that calf. Now, I am not smart enough, or experienced enough to fully understand the complete effects of mitochondrial DNA, but it is my understanding that it contributes much more than the bull does with regard to the calves.

Good morning mmscamp - it is about 0730 here - I think it is time for you westerners to get some sleep! It must almost be 2230 your time :D

Cheers

Bez+

Good morning! :) I was going to come up with a very witty comeback, but I'm too tired to figure out what time 2230 is in my world. :oops: So I will simply state that it's 10:52, and I'm headed in that direction in a very short time! :lol: :lol: Take care!
 

Lucky_P

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Good points made about the cow side of the equation.

High CED and low BW epds - if the accuracies are high - are a good predictor; low-accuracy epds may be something of a crapshoot.
But you also need to look at the CEM or MCE(maternal calving ease) epd of the cow's sire. If she's sired by a bull with a CEM/MCE epd below breed average, chances are that she'll be less likely to be able to deliver as large a calf, as a first-calf heifer, than would the daughter of a bull with a high positive CEM/CME epd.

I've passed on some bulls that had many of the traits I felt were desirable because they had negative maternal calving ease epds - I'm still in the mode of trying to breed better females; if I were gonna market ALL my calves as terminal crosses, then maternal calving ease wouldn't be a concern.

Then, there's always the possibility that the pedigree on the paper isn't actually what's behind the bull, and the projected EPDs aren't accurate - whether the breeder realizes it or not. Honest mistakes do happen, as does outright chicanery.
 

S&WSigma40VEShooter

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Lucky_P":ahfcr0ib said:
Good points made about the cow side of the equation.

High CED and low BW epds - if the accuracies are high - are a good predictor; low-accuracy epds may be something of a crapshoot.
But you also need to look at the CEM or MCE(maternal calving ease) epd of the cow's sire. If she's sired by a bull with a CEM/MCE epd below breed average, chances are that she'll be less likely to be able to deliver as large a calf, as a first-calf heifer, than would the daughter of a bull with a high positive CEM/CME epd.

I've passed on some bulls that had many of the traits I felt were desirable because they had negative maternal calving ease epds - I'm still in the mode of trying to breed better females; if I were gonna market ALL my calves as terminal crosses, then maternal calving ease wouldn't be a concern.

Then, there's always the possibility that the pedigree on the paper isn't actually what's behind the bull, and the projected EPDs aren't accurate - whether the breeder realizes it or not. Honest mistakes do happen, as does outright chicanery.


Birthweight has more to do with the cow than it does the bull. Had a neighbor once who had a 97 pound dead calf. He said I would have like to have kept her for a heifer to retain. I said for what to have another dead calf? I shook my head and said I would rather have a 40 pound live one than a 97 pound dead one and walked away. All my cows that I purchase have had birthweights of no more than 85 pounds and the calves have all been 60-80 pounds.
 

ollie?

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S&WSigma40VEShooter":3gp90njo said:
Birthweight has more to do with the cow than it does the bull. Had a neighbor once who had a 97 pound dead calf. He said I would have like to have kept her for a heifer to retain. I said for what to have another dead calf? I shook my head and said I would rather have a 40 pound live one than a 97 pound dead one and walked away. All my cows that I purchase have had birthweights of no more than 85 pounds and the calves have all been 60-80 pounds.
I'd spend the night with you just to sit and listen to you expound on your cattle knowledge. You're quite the cow whisperer.
 

MO_cows

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Lots of good advice in these replies even if they are a bit scattered out. Like has been said, your cows are half the equation. And it's not so much about how many pounds the calf weighs, it's the degree of difficulty birthing and the stress on the cow and calf. If they are born easy, the cow bounces right back and the calf takes off and grows, no matter what the birth weight.

Once saw a presentation from Dr. Rick Bourden with CSU. In fielding questions about calving ease, he indicated that the calving ease EPD was of greater importance than the BW EPD. There are more factors taken into consideration to produce the calving ease EPD. But like has been said, if there is no accuracy behind the EPD, it's just an educated guess based on a small sampling of data.
 

ColemanCreekCattle

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Large calves can be the product of your cows' EPD's: like Birth Wt and Direct CE. If a cow has a bad DCE and BWt it can show up as large calves even when using low birth weight bulls.

ffamom":20kiw7qf said:
Our largest calves have been sired by low birth weight bulls according to EPD's. Research was done to find a negative numbered bull. So far, 3 calves have hit the ground, all heifer calves, and all were over 80lbs with the last one weighing about 100 lbs. Upon doing more research on progeny, most of the calves that were registered were bred and recorded by the owner of the bull.

Am I reading the paper wrong? Did I want a higher number? If I did read them correctlly, how many people do you think record the weights they want reported rather than the actual measurements?

Not saying this happened, but not what we expected according to the numbers. These heifers were not grained. Not even a good year for the pastures because of the drought.
 

S&WSigma40VEShooter

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ollie?":2iqs7vir said:
S&WSigma40VEShooter":2iqs7vir said:
Birthweight has more to do with the cow than it does the bull. Had a neighbor once who had a 97 pound dead calf. He said I would have like to have kept her for a heifer to retain. I said for what to have another dead calf? I shook my head and said I would rather have a 40 pound live one than a 97 pound dead one and walked away. All my cows that I purchase have had birthweights of no more than 85 pounds and the calves have all been 60-80 pounds.
I'd spend the night with you just to sit and listen to you expound on your cattle knowledge. You're quite the cow whisperer.


Sure thing RN_BSN just name the time or the place.
 
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I look at EPDs also but I like to see what the bulls actual wieght was hisself. If his CE is 14 and his BW is -1 then I fill like he should have wieghted less than 70lbs. at birth.
 
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