• If you are having problems logging in please use the Contact Us in the lower right hand corner of the forum page for assistance.

Does anyone wait past 15 months to breed heifers?

brandonm_13

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 19, 2008
Messages
629
Reaction score
0
Location
Tennessee
I was doing some research online, and ran across a partial article from a research station. It said that (on average) it takes 5 calves to pay for a cow(I always heard it was three up till then). It also said the average cow(not the best cow) only averages 6.5 calves in her lifetime. It was stating that by holding the heifers out until they were 20 months old (instead of breeding at 15 months), you could extend the average cow lifespan, and increase the number of calves to 10 or 12. I would imagine part of their figures include heifers that die during calving, are too small at the first birth and become stunted, or just do not become as sound because of the stresses put on them at that young age. I know in other species like goats, the first birthing is held off a couple of months to let the goat grow a little more. They can breed very young, but are often held off until at least a year old so they reach a more mature size. Opinions?
 

LoveMoo11

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 20, 2008
Messages
1,090
Reaction score
0
Location
Maine
I breed based on weight, not on age. If a heifer is a little younger but of a healthy size, I would breed her. Some heifers are a little slower to grow than others, but you don't want to force a calf out of them.
 

Loch Valley Fold

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 21, 2008
Messages
542
Reaction score
0
Location
NSW Australia
With our dairy heifers (Jersey) we usually put the bull in with a group ranging from 13-15mths depending in size & weight. With Scottish Highland cattle they are not usually bred until they are 3yrs because they have a long lifespan (15-20yrs) most breeders hold off until their heifers are 3.
 

CKC1586

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 28, 2004
Messages
4,351
Reaction score
0
Location
Sunfield, Michigan USA
The Piedmontese are late bloomers and if allowed to get their growth before breeding there are fewer calving problems and a longer life for the cow. Depending on her size and weight sometimes wait till she is two before breeding my heifers.
 

Nesikep

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 13, 2008
Messages
15,975
Reaction score
50
Location
Lillooet, BC, Canada
we have a beef operation, so we have to keep to a schedule of breeding around may, we usually breed at 2 years old, though sometimes with really growthy heifers we kick ourselves for not having bred them earlier...

it was a hard transition at first since we were still trying to expand our herd while going to breeding at 2 years, and we had some bad luck with several cows at the same time, so for a while we hardly had any cows while we were waiting for the new ones to come around.. On a beef operation I'd say if you're at capacity, then it is worth looking at it, if you're trying to grow your herd, stick to 1 year... Once you're in the rhythm of 2 year breeding, yes,it does cost a little more, but I recommend keeping all the heifers that look good at weaning over winter, and then culling off until you have the number you originally wanted... the culls may still be valuable to someone, especially since they're ready to be bred and it's springtime...

If we could get away with it, I'd like to breed at about 18-20 months, and then giving them a couple extra months before rebreeding them after calving... that's my ideal, never going to happen though
 

dun

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 28, 2003
Messages
47,334
Reaction score
1
Location
MO Ozarks
In the past we've held a couple of heifers over to breed at 20-21 months instead of at 15 months. Of those, one settled. The others had gotten so fat that we couldn;t get them bred. That one also got fat but we still managed to get her bred. Our heifers are typically fat when they calve at 24 months anyway.
 

buckmaster33

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 3, 2008
Messages
46
Reaction score
0
Location
NW WI
My Calves are born April/May and the Bull goes out the 1st Friday in July. I had nine heifers calve this past spring(more than normal) and all calved by themselves and all are in good condition as I speak. I guess, much like selling feeder steers to market...you want a nice uniform group of cattle, and this applies to calving heifers as well. With the proper management, they should be of ample size to calve and maintain themselves and the calf by age of 22-24 months. If you have the money and resources to feed an animal 3 years without getting any cash flow out of her...more power to you...you'll probably have a herd of nice, big animals. But realistically, most of us cant. You can usually see at weaning or shortly after, which ones arent going to make good replacements(at least physical attribute wise) so do as you please with them, but dont breed them anyway and be mad when you're out pulling a calf at 2am! :cowboy: Your gut instinct is almost always better than what some "size chart" may say.
 

Frankie

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 24, 2003
Messages
6,915
Reaction score
0
Location
Oklahoma
brandonm_13":1077n3p8 said:
I was doing some research online, and ran across a partial article from a research station. It said that (on average) it takes 5 calves to pay for a cow(I always heard it was three up till then). It also said the average cow(not the best cow) only averages 6.5 calves in her lifetime. It was stating that by holding the heifers out until they were 20 months old (instead of breeding at 15 months), you could extend the average cow lifespan, and increase the number of calves to 10 or 12. I would imagine part of their figures include heifers that die during calving, are too small at the first birth and become stunted, or just do not become as sound because of the stresses put on them at that young age. I know in other species like goats, the first birthing is held off a couple of months to let the goat grow a little more. They can breed very young, but are often held off until at least a year old so they reach a more mature size. Opinions?

Interesting about the five calves to pay for a cow. I've read that the heifers that calve as two year olds are generally the most profitable.

We breed in April and May for January and February calves. That usually means we'll breed them at 15 months, but if we have an odd heifer that was born in March, we'll breed her, too. This year we haven't bred anything for fall calving. So last year's Sept-born heifers will be about 18 months old when they're bred. We are moving to one calving season.....again. :lol:
 

Nesikep

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 13, 2008
Messages
15,975
Reaction score
50
Location
Lillooet, BC, Canada
well, we really don't need to assist any of the heifers anymore, I will say that.. but we've also found that sometimes they're so excited to FINALLY have a calf that they take forever from when the feet show to when they just have to lay down and get to business... frustrating!.. and then once they have the calf, getting them to stand still so it can suck can be a challenge too.. I think they get more excited as they are bred older
 

dun

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 28, 2003
Messages
47,334
Reaction score
1
Location
MO Ozarks
Nesikep":3lzyky49 said:
well, we really don't need to assist any of the heifers anymore, I will say that.. but we've also found that sometimes they're so excited to FINALLY have a calf that they take forever from when the feet show to when they just have to lay down and get to business... frustrating!.. and then once they have the calf, getting them to stand still so it can suck can be a challenge too.. I think they get more excited as they are bred older

The last heifer we had to pull a calf from was a bought bred heifer that almost was able to have a 110 lb bull calf by herself.
Our calves are up and sucking in 5-10 minutes, a few are up before the heifer even regains her feet. Can you spell GENETICS?
 

cfpinz

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 8, 2005
Messages
5,865
Reaction score
2
Location
Virginia
We calve ours at 2 yo. I had a group of spring calvers that I've just been letting work their way back in time with the fall calvers. If I choose to keep a heifer out of one of those cows and it's a bit younger/smaller than the fall calves, I'll hold her back and calve her at 2 1/2 or so.

Wife's father doesn't breed his til 2 years old. His heifers look gorgeous when they calve, but they're pig fat and he winds up pulling a lot more calves per capita than we do (on a normal year).

In my opinion, if a heifer can't calve at 24mo and fall right in with the rest of the cows from then on out, she can hit the road.
 

Nesikep

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 13, 2008
Messages
15,975
Reaction score
50
Location
Lillooet, BC, Canada
dun":2wxsxr06 said:
Nesikep":2wxsxr06 said:
well, we really don't need to assist any of the heifers anymore, I will say that.. but we've also found that sometimes they're so excited to FINALLY have a calf that they take forever from when the feet show to when they just have to lay down and get to business... frustrating!.. and then once they have the calf, getting them to stand still so it can suck can be a challenge too.. I think they get more excited as they are bred older

The last heifer we had to pull a calf from was a bought bred heifer that almost was able to have a 110 lb bull calf by herself.
Our calves are up and sucking in 5-10 minutes, a few are up before the heifer even regains her feet. Can you spell GENETICS?

yep, it sounds pretty good..

do you find bull calves are less lively than heifer calves? about 75% of our problem calves are bull calves
 

dun

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 28, 2003
Messages
47,334
Reaction score
1
Location
MO Ozarks
Nesikep":1amfd66b said:
do you find bull calves are less lively than heifer calves? about 75% of our problem calves are bull calves

It does seem that bull calves are more lay about for a day or 2 after being born, but they're still active enough to suit me.
 

dun

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 28, 2003
Messages
47,334
Reaction score
1
Location
MO Ozarks
In the past 10 years or so since we've kept better records, we've only culled one cow for fertitiy. She calved as a 2 year old and had a calving interval of around 350 days. As a 9 year old she didn;t settle AI and was turned out with the bull and didn;t settle then either.
When we bring or retain a cow or heifer the intention is that she'll be here till she's old and grey. All but a very few make it. Only two heifers we've retained from out own breeding haven;t. One got foot rot and by the time I could get her up and treat it tthe infection had entered tyhe joint capsule, the other on her 3rd calf decided she was going to kill it. She went to the kill pen and her heifer calf went to the neighbor as a bucket calf project for his daughter. That heifer is now rasing her 3rd calf, 2 AI, one ET and is carrying another ET. Her first AI calf was the champion crossbred female at the fair last year and rserve grand over all.
 

Victoria

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 7, 2005
Messages
2,747
Reaction score
0
Location
Southern Alberta Canada
We breed so they will have their first calf at 2 years old. If they are too small to do that they don't stay. I'm thinking of our herd though and we certainly average more than 6.5 calves. 10 - 12 is what we are getting currently.
 

mnmtranching

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 29, 2006
Messages
5,061
Reaction score
0
Location
MN
I don't see any reason to not breed heifers at 15 months. They should be big enough, if not they should be culled. Again, breed them to a low birth weight bull. Easy birth and proper nutrition they do great.
 

Limomike

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 14, 2006
Messages
4,132
Reaction score
0
Location
Oklahoma
Most of the times we wait past the 15 months; but it is usually due to the timing of turning them out with the bull, or mainly just making sure they are a good size around 16-18 months of age.
 

Engler

Well-known member
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
158
Reaction score
0
Location
Central Iowa
One thing that I think a lot of you are missing is that most people try to run one tight calving season. If we're going to wait until 20 or 21 months to breed that's sticking those spring born heifers calving in the fall at 2 1/2 years and vice versa. If you're running two herds that's fine, but how many are.
 

jm1234

Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2008
Messages
12
Reaction score
0
We normally breed heifers at 15 months to a longhorn bull. He does a good job of getting the heifers settled, and we have no calving problems. They are then moved into the main herd, and bred to a Hereford bull for their second calf.
 

Latest posts

Top