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cold winter = big calves?

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badaxemoo

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We just started our fourth calving season by pulling a calf from a heifer. It was the first time we have had to do it.

I talked to my neighbor who is a dairy farmer but also has about 40 head of Angus. He said that he has had to pull quite a few calves this spring and so has a large seedstock operation nearby. When this guy preg-checked my cows he mentioned that he thought this heifer had a big calf in her.

He said that when we have really cold winters, the cattle put away more feed and the blood flows more around the uterus and the calves end up bigger?

Is there anything to this - or did I just pick out the wrong bull?

It was a pretty large calf for a heifer - I hope I don't have to pull them all!

Also - is it likely to take her longer to clean? Any special care tips for the heifer or the calf?
 

redluv

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There was an article in the New Mexico Stockman that said a study at the University of Nebraska found calf weights increase one pound, and calving difficulty increases 2.6% for each 1 degree reduction in average winter temps. The article also said that increases in fetal weight during cooler winter months is most likely because of increased nutrient intake from supplemental feeding by the cow. So as the nutrient intake increases, nutrient flow to the fetus increases, which can result in increased growth rate.
 

msscamp

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badaxemoo":3c9dal2c said:
We just started our fourth calving season by pulling a calf from a heifer. It was the first time we have had to do it.

I talked to my neighbor who is a dairy farmer but also has about 40 head of Angus. He said that he has had to pull quite a few calves this spring and so has a large seedstock operation nearby. When this guy preg-checked my cows he mentioned that he thought this heifer had a big calf in her.

He said that when we have really cold winters, the cattle put away more feed and the blood flows more around the uterus and the calves end up bigger?

Is there anything to this - or did I just pick out the wrong bull?

It was a pretty large calf for a heifer - I hope I don't have to pull them all!

Also - is it likely to take her longer to clean? Any special care tips for the heifer or the calf?

Over feeding during the last trimester generally results in bigger calves, since the extra nutrition goes straight to the calf. Anytime you have to pull a calf the animal in question can take longer to clean, if the calf was a hard pull then the chances of her not cleaning promptly are increased even more. Watch her and if she hasn't cleaned in 3-4 days, give her a good dose of penicillin - we usually gave 60 cc's for an animal that weighed around 1100-1200 lbs. Do not attempt to manually clean her, as you will do more harm than good.
 

msscamp

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msscamp":wb6f2g0y said:
badaxemoo":wb6f2g0y said:
We just started our fourth calving season by pulling a calf from a heifer. It was the first time we have had to do it.

I talked to my neighbor who is a dairy farmer but also has about 40 head of Angus. He said that he has had to pull quite a few calves this spring and so has a large seedstock operation nearby. When this guy preg-checked my cows he mentioned that he thought this heifer had a big calf in her.

He said that when we have really cold winters, the cattle put away more feed and the blood flows more around the uterus and the calves end up bigger?

Is there anything to this - or did I just pick out the wrong bull?

It was a pretty large calf for a heifer - I hope I don't have to pull them all!

Also - is it likely to take her longer to clean? Any special care tips for the heifer or the calf?

Over feeding during the last trimester generally results in bigger calves, since the extra nutrition goes straight to the calf. During an abnormally cold winter it is fairly easy to overfeed in order to maintain condition on the cows, and help them deal with the weather.

Anytime you have to pull a calf the animal in question can take longer to clean, if the calf was a hard pull then the chances of her not cleaning promptly are increased even more. Watch her and if she hasn't cleaned in 3-4 days, I would give her a good dose of penicillin - we usually gave 60 cc's for an animal that weighed around 1100-1200 lbs. Do not attempt to manually clean her, as you will do more harm than good.
 

mnmtranching

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I don't know? could be.
My study, :cowboy: We broke all kinds of cold records up here in MN. I have 76 calves so far and NO PULLS. :D I think it's genetics. I won't have a bull even for mature cows over 85 pounds and the heaviest heifer bull is 72 pounds.
 

badaxemoo

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mnmtranching":122r2r3q said:
I don't know? could be.
My study, :cowboy: We broke all kinds of cold records up here in MN. I have 76 calves so far and NO PULLS. :D I think it's genetics. I won't have a bull even for mature cows over 85 pounds and the heaviest heifer bull is 72 pounds.

Yeah, I probably blew it this year.

The bull I am using was 80 pounds at birth. The breeder that I bought him from says his calves usually run around 70-75. I liked the way he looked and he has some traits (small farm, deep, thick) that I want, but he probably was not the best choice to use on heifers.

I guess this is one of the problems with having a small herd - I can obviously only justify having one bull.

I've got my fingers crossed that the next few calves aren't big.
 

dun

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There have been enough studys over the years that pretty well proves that colder winters makes for bigger calves. It has to do with the uterine blood flow rather then the blood going to the extermities
 

Willow Springs

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Calves have been much larger here on average. I haven't started calving yet, but almost everyone I have talked to has remarked on the much heavier birth weights this year. I even had one breeder tell me he's not sure if he'll be able to sell a bull next year due to the BW. Same cows same bulls as last year.

As was maybe posted earlier researchers have found that in extremely cold weather the cows concentrate blood flow near the body core to keep warm. The developing calves get more blood flow as well and are able to exttact more nutrients as a result. In warmer climates the opposite is true; the cows are sending blood to the extremities to facilitate loss of body heat to stay cool and the calf receives fewer nutrients. I think that is why we see such differenecs in BW when we go from Canada to the southern states; or have colder winters.
 
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