breeding heifers

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Anonymous

I'm curious about the age you breed heifers for the first time. Somebody on this board suggested 13-15 months and/or 80% of their growth rate. I had 6 yearling+ heifers I tried to keep away from the bull. Needless to say 2 got bred, they fulfilled all the requirements to get bred, size, age, weight and etc. I compared the 2 that got bred with the 4 I held back and what a major difference! My husband had told me that they usually don't grow much once they're bred and boy was he right. Every heifer we've got that's got bred early doesn't have the quality of the heifers that get bred as 2 year olds. In summary we've found that for the most part, heifers bred as 2 year olds are: bigger, better milk producers, calve easier the first calf, seem to have less health problems, have bigger calves at weaning time and the cows seem to last a lot longer. We try to calve when our grass is at it's best(March-April) our cows are in their best condition and well up in flesh. By doing this we won't get a calf at the beginning but we end up with more calves per cow in the long run. We only run 50 pair and it makes it easier to manage our cattle unlike the larger commercial herds. Our cows right now average 7-8 calves per cow. I was just curious if anyone else had noticed this in their cattle operation?

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A

Anonymous

> I'm curious about the age you
> breed heifers for the first time.
> Somebody on this board suggested
> 13-15 months and/or 80% of their
> growth rate. I had 6 yearling+
> heifers I tried to keep away from
> the bull. Needless to say 2 got
> bred, they fulfilled all the
> requirements to get bred, size,
> age, weight and etc. I compared
> the 2 that got bred with the 4 I
> held back and what a major
> difference! My husband had told me
> that they usually don't grow much
> once they're bred and boy was he
> right. Every heifer we've got
> that's got bred early doesn't have
> the quality of the heifers that
> get bred as 2 year olds. In
> summary we've found that for the
> most part, heifers bred as 2 year
> olds are: bigger, better milk
> producers, calve easier the first
> calf, seem to have less health
> problems, have bigger calves at
> weaning time and the cows seem to
> last a lot longer. We try to calve
> when our grass is at it's
> best(March-April) our cows are in
> their best condition and well up
> in flesh. By doing this we won't
> get a calf at the beginning but we
> end up with more calves per cow in
> the long run. We only run 50 pair
> and it makes it easier to manage
> our cattle unlike the larger
> commercial herds. Our cows right
> now average 7-8 calves per cow. I
> was just curious if anyone else
> had noticed this in their cattle
> operation?

I've only been at this a few years, but I haven't notice much difference between how my girls finish out when I compare the ones that were bred early, under 18 mths with my other cows. I even had a pair of twins I was able to compare. One was bred at 14 mths, the other at 30 mths. They both finished about the same at 3 yrs, gave good milk, same quality calf, etc. Maybe I have just been blessed but I haven't noticed that much of a difference.

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A

Anonymous

We couldn't hope for any better quality calves. The first calf is generally a little smaller but we breed them to bulls that throw calves that way. From the second calf on they are just like all the others from the mature cows. Granted some of the heifers that calf at two take a little longer to get their full growth, but end up the same as all the others.

dunmovin farms

> I've only been at this a few
> years, but I haven't notice much
> difference between how my girls
> finish out when I compare the ones
> that were bred early, under 18
> mths with my other cows. I even
> had a pair of twins I was able to
> compare. One was bred at 14 mths,
> the other at 30 mths. They both
> finished about the same at 3 yrs,
> gave good milk, same quality calf,
> etc. Maybe I have just been
> blessed but I haven't noticed that
> much of a difference.
 
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A

Anonymous

Thanks for the info. I'm glad to hear these 2 stand a chance of catching up with the others. Their calves are big and healthy. I'm wondering if it would be a good idea to early wean the 2 calves at 4 months? Or would it make any difference if I waited a couple of months to wean them? Thanks again for the imput.



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A

Anonymous

If they are in good body condition and have bred back, unless you are very short of feed I would leave them on the cows. I know there are proponents of early weaning as a common practice, but in my opinion, and it is only an opinion, the calves are much more socially adjusted if left with the herd for a longer period. If they are going down the road at weaning it doesn't matter, but for replacment heifers, or even steers you plan on keeping around I prefer them to interact better with the rest of the herd. The market right now in most areas is pretty much down the dumper, early weaning and selling at weaning isn't going to bring in many dollars. Early weaning and keeping them will require much higher quality feed and creep feeding for the newly weaned calves, it may help the cows grow a little faster, but at what cost in dollars. Especially since the cows will eventually pretty well catch up in growth with everyone else anyway. If the cows are in poor body condition and won;t breed back something shoudl be done to get them in condition and get them settled. But, unless you want to switch them to fall calving it's a little late this year to get them bred for spring calving. As I said, MY opinions. There are so many variables that go into any breeding/calving decision, unless you are actually on the ground it's hard to advise.

dunmovin farms

> Thanks for the info. I'm glad to
> hear these 2 stand a chance of
> catching up with the others. Their
> calves are big and healthy. I'm
> wondering if it would be a good
> idea to early wean the 2 calves at
> 4 months? Or would it make any
> difference if I waited a couple of
> months to wean them? Thanks again
> for the imput.
 
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A

Anonymous

I've already had the bulls in to breed back. My breeding schedule revolves around my job and the weather. I'm a seasonal worker and have all my cows calve March and April so they're through when I start work in May. Then I sell all of the calves at weaning time as a pen lot, works out perfect; same size and no calves bawling. But, you're definitely right about the early weaning, it's not the time to do it. The cow in question is a 2yr. old and is a 1/4 Holstein. Her Mother looks good until she calves and then no matter how much I feed her she looks bad. Do you think that might have anything to do with her weight problem? I don't know anything about Holstein crosses, I just have the two. Their calves are always big and healthy. Thanks again Dun, your input is greatly appreciated.



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Anonymous

Good Holsteins always look a little raunchy to me. The put the feed in the bucket and not on their back. We used to graft an extra calf or two on our Holsteins crosses, they were going to look like hell anyway so they might as well do a little extra work. Never seemed to hurt them any, bred back, calved easy, just always poor looking compared to the beef cows. We were drylotting everything at that time. Partner raised alfalfa so we never had to worry about feed. In a pasture or range environment Holstein crosses don't do as well.

dunmovin farms

> I've already had the bulls in to
> breed back. My breeding schedule
> revolves around my job and the
> weather. I'm a seasonal worker and
> have all my cows calve March and
> April so they're through when I
> start work in May. Then I sell all
> of the calves at weaning time as a
> pen lot, works out perfect; same
> size and no calves bawling. But,
> you're definitely right about the
> early weaning, it's not the time
> to do it. The cow in question is a
> 2yr. old and is a 1/4 Holstein.
> Her Mother looks good until she
> calves and then no matter how much
> I feed her she looks bad. Do you
> think that might have anything to
> do with her weight problem? I
> don't know anything about Holstein
> crosses, I just have the two.
> Their calves are always big and
> healthy. Thanks again Dun, your
> input is greatly appreciated.
 

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