Gestation Length too short?

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simme

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I retained two simmental heifers born fall of 2018. Both sired by the same AI bull and out of dams that were half sisters. So, these two are 3/4 sisters. They were synchronized and both AI bred on Dec 24, 2019 to the same bull. 44 calved at 267 days. Tiny heifer calf probably around 40 some pounds. But healthy and vigorous. Got up and nursed without any assistance. 45 calved at 285 days. Bull calf about 75 pounds. He went on to have an adjusted weaning weight of 701. The little heifer calf looked good, just small. Weaned at about 400 pounds. I don't need any 40 pound calves, but I kept the 2 year old. My thinking was that you spend a lot of money to raise a heifer to calving age. She was already bred back to a higher performance bull for her second calf and maybe the 267 day gestation was just a fluke. 44 was then bred AI on Dec 25, 2020. I looked out the window this morning and she has a calf at 271 days. Mom and calf are up and appear OK. Calf looks small. There is a little commotion going on with the other cows investigating, so I will not add to the commotion right now.

I am inclined to send 44 down the road after two short gestation calves. Simmentals generally have a little longer gestation - about 287 days. What would you do? Keep or cull?

Is gestation length breed specific? Longer for bull calves than heifer calves? Shorter for first calf? Determined more by the bull or cow? Need more cattle topics and less politics. Can't have that without discussion and contributions.

Picture of 45's calf for attention. He did OK on milk and fescue. 44's calf not so much.45calf.jpg
 

FungusProudKY31

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Short gestation bulls and cows are the newest fad that will need extreme correction ASAP. My abbreviated definition of such: curvebenders. You can spell out the details and make the definition more educational and detailed. Two big issues: you are selecting for premmies and you are monkeying with the assumed normal link between BW and MW. Angus has been on this fad train for a while. They are now the largest cows of the breeds. They'll keep on until they bust the bubble.

Normal is not a bad place to be. To sell the cow or wear her out growing market calves- that is not my decision.
 

Buck Randall

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I am inclined to send 44 down the road after two short gestation calves. Simmentals generally have a little longer gestation - about 287 days. What would you do? Keep or cull?

Is gestation length breed specific? Longer for bull calves than heifer calves? Shorter for first calf? Determined more by the bull or cow? Need more cattle topics and less politics. Can't have that without discussion and contributions.
Gestation length is different between breeds, and bull calves will go slightly longer than heifers. Emphasis on calving ease has led to shorter average gestation for a lot of breeds. People selecting for growth traits without giving up calving ease are selecting for shorter gestation.

The fetus is responsible for producing the the hormones that trigger a cow to give birth. Both parents contribute equally to the genetics of the fetus, so this trait is equally likely to come from the bull or the cow.

It would be understandable to send 44 down the road, but if you're interested in conducting a little experiment, it might be fun to see if you can "correct" the problem by using the worst calving ease bull you can find. Don't call me if you end up having to pull the calf, though. ;)
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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@simme normal Simmental gestation is 285 days. Yes, I think all breeds - bulls longer than heifers - 2 yr olds generally also calve a little early.
Too many (in all breeds) are chasing CE. I don't. Yes, I want every cow to spit out her calf, but I strongly believe in growing out my heifers and expect them to spit out a 80-90# calf unassisted.
Obviously, I use our EPD's and don't breed a cow killer bull to a heifer, but I don't chase the +15 CE bulls. Some of the bulls I use may have that good an EPD, but if he is the right phenotype and has the growth, I will use them. Cattle are getting too small in all breeds. I have some monster cows (1700+) and can use a "popular" moderate size bull and get "just right". My goal is to get 100# per month of age - deep and soggy.
 

sagecreek

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@simme normal Simmental gestation is 285 days. Yes, I think all breeds - bulls longer than heifers - 2 yr olds generally also calve a little early.
Too many (in all breeds) are chasing CE. I don't. Yes, I want every cow to spit out her calf, but I strongly believe in growing out my heifers and expect them to spit out a 80-90# calf unassisted.
Obviously, I use our EPD's and don't breed a cow killer bull to a heifer, but I don't chase the +15 CE bulls. Some of the bulls I use may have that good an EPD, but if he is the right phenotype and has the growth, I will use them. Cattle are getting too small in all breeds. I have some monster cows (1700+) and can use a "popular" moderate size bull and get "just right". My goal is to get 100# per month of age - deep and soggy.
Agree with you on that one we like big calves at birth and big calves at weaning we have 750-850 lbs steers at shipping time and we’re angus so we kinda push our birthweight and watch our carcass weight epd but first we look at phenotype and maternal traits, length and depth of body, wide back and hips and Good muscle with milk,
But going back to short gestation we noticed our smaller calves didn’t stay as healthy as our bigger ones did. when it got rough in winter, we calve in Feb March
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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We sure are on the same page. Mine happen to be purebred Simmental, but all the breeds have about the same choices in sizes! I like a 5-6 frame score and my cows average 1550# short & stout. Yes, that is a big cow, but they FIT my environment. NY grows grass!!! And, my steers are looked at as my cash flow. My little girls are my money makers.
I look for - #1 is structure then volume. I tell everyone, you need to fit a 50 gal drum inside your cows. If you can't, they won't survive on grass and hay.
Dinky calves just don't seem to be able to handle the cold stress.
 

MurraysMutts

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Limited experience here.
But my heifers are usually lighter than bull calves.
I cant tell you about gestation periods because my bulls do the work and I'm hit or miss on actually seeing them breed.

My ol bwf mutt bull would throw heifer safe heifer calves. But my Gawd! Watch out if it was a bull calf. EVERY bull calf out of a heifer was trouble for the first time cow. Heifers calved unassisted for the most part when delivering a heifer calf.

Bet the gestational period played a small role in that.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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@coachg you just don't have the right kind of cows. If you keep breeding for small calves, you have small cows with no pelvic measurement. JMHO
I have bred Simmentals for a long time. Yes, we had giant calves back in the 70's, but I never had a paralyzed cow. We did use to have to assist some big calves, but never had a sever case - like caesarian or cut the calf out.
I can honestly say I can't remember the last time we had to assist a calving because the calf was too big. We've had tangled up twins, leg back, head back, etc, but not too big. Just had a 14 year old cow spit out a 135# - not saying I like them that big. She is used to having 80# twins (5 sets), guess she put all her effort into this single calf. No assist and didn't take her long. Calf was sucking within 45 minutes.
 

coachg

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I don’t mind 70’s or mid to low 80’s but folks posting 90+ I don’t want any part of ! My calves hit the ground vigorous and grow . I bought 25 registered black angus cows and have kept almost every heifer we have raised . We did sell one whole crop of spring heifers last year as yearlings . We have had no calving issues except 1 breach / backwards . We don’t do pelvic scores cause we let our heifers get their growth before we breed them . Most calve at 2 + . I may lose a calf crop from my females but they calves w/o issues and breed back for their second calf. I’ll take a 60 -70 lb live calf every day . My cows range from 1200 -1500 lbs on average . I take criticism from one neighbor for big cows . He says big cows eat too much ! I like big cows .
 

sagecreek

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I don’t mind 70’s or mid to low 80’s but folks posting 90+ I don’t want any part of ! My calves hit the ground vigorous and grow . I bought 25 registered black angus cows and have kept almost every heifer we have raised . We did sell one whole crop of spring heifers last year as yearlings . We have had no calving issues except 1 breach / backwards . We don’t do pelvic scores cause we let our heifers get their growth before we breed them . Most calve at 2 + . I may lose a calf crop from my females but they calves w/o issues and breed back for their second calf. I’ll take a 60 -70 lb live calf every day . My cows range from 1200 -1500 lbs on average . I take criticism from one neighbor for big cows . He says big cows eat too much ! I like big cows .
I bet you take a big cow and a little cow at the end of the year they’ve ate about the same amount
 

BFE

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!2-1400 lbs is average. 1500 is starting to get on the low end of big.

Conversely, 70-90 lbs isn't a bad range, but a cow should be able to handle a 100 lb calf easy enough. I don't care for the really small calves, they don't seem to pick up and grow as fast in my experience. Stands to reason an 80 lb calf can eat more than a 50 lb one, so rate of gain should be better. I've never had one of those 50 lb calves wean very good.
 

BFE

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I retained two simmental heifers born fall of 2018. Both sired by the same AI bull and out of dams that were half sisters. So, these two are 3/4 sisters. They were synchronized and both AI bred on Dec 24, 2019 to the same bull. 44 calved at 267 days. Tiny heifer calf probably around 40 some pounds. But healthy and vigorous. Got up and nursed without any assistance. 45 calved at 285 days. Bull calf about 75 pounds. He went on to have an adjusted weaning weight of 701. The little heifer calf looked good, just small. Weaned at about 400 pounds. I don't need any 40 pound calves, but I kept the 2 year old. My thinking was that you spend a lot of money to raise a heifer to calving age. She was already bred back to a higher performance bull for her second calf and maybe the 267 day gestation was just a fluke. 44 was then bred AI on Dec 25, 2020. I looked out the window this morning and she has a calf at 271 days. Mom and calf are up and appear OK. Calf looks small. There is a little commotion going on with the other cows investigating, so I will not add to the commotion right now.

I am inclined to send 44 down the road after two short gestation calves. Simmentals generally have a little longer gestation - about 287 days. What would you do? Keep or cull?

Is gestation length breed specific? Longer for bull calves than heifer calves? Shorter for first calf? Determined more by the bull or cow? Need more cattle topics and less politics. Can't have that without discussion and contributions.

Picture of 45's calf for attention. He did OK on milk and fescue. 44's calf not so much.View attachment 8506
A few things here sir...

First, nice calf. Who is the sire?

Second, I agree with you on the political discussions. This is Cattle Today, but you can't hardly get anyone to talk cattle anymore! I miss some of the ones who are kicked off, they'd argue for days on cattle. Much more helpful than what we have now.

I appreciate your posts and responses. Very well thought out, to the point, and civil. We need more like you on here.
 

SBMF 2015

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We retain ownership and feed our most of our calves. I considered her calves all terminal crosses. Longevity of my cows is more important to me than a big first calf. As long as they have vigor those fifty pound calves will get up and be fine. We pelvic measure, and all of our cows are expected to have 85+lb calves the second time they get bred.
 

FungusProudKY31

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I’d rather have a live little calf than a dead big calf and a paralyzed cow/heifer or a dead one .
The odd thing about Angus is the mental changes on BWs. A few decades ago a bull with +3BW was a solid cow bull. Now you hardly ever see a +3 BW EPD. Almost all are less and most have more MW. Some of it is data inflation (paper and not reality) but the average breeder has been swayed in the ranges of good and bad. A bull with +BW and lesser growth is a pure waste. But a bull with some BW and growth+ is a true breeding animal and a useful tool. I hope they, whoever they are, will wake up and recognize the normal links of BW, growth and MW before the breed spirals into another fad induced coma. We can talk extremes but in a one breed commercial program or a solid purebred operation the best place to be is in the town of Moderation!
 
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simme

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A few things here sir...

First, nice calf. Who is the sire?
Thanks. Sire of the calf in the picture is an old (2010) red simangus bull from Select Sires. I only have a few cows. Not enough to justify the aggravation of having a bull, so they are AI bred. My brother has about 100 cows and did AI for around 40 years. He has quit the AI due to his age and the effort required. We shared a semen tank that I now have. Probably like a lot of people, I don't do a perfect job of keeping up with the exact number of straws on each bull in the tank. I put some thought into the bull choices when I place semen orders and ordered semen for the cows thinking that I could find something already in the tank for the two heifers. Like most people, we accumulate quite of bit of semen over the years that takes up space, might not be exactly what you want for current cows, but just can't bring yourself to toss. Ordering a new cane for 2 heifers did not seem necessary. When it was time to breed, some of the bulls I had in mind for the two heifers had empty canes in the tank (poor management) and some of the older semen in the tank seemed too good or too valuable to risk on a heifer. My choices were the red simangus or a couple of low BW red angus bulls - all bulls my brother had used on his heifers. Right or wrong, I worry about feet on red angus, so I used the simangus bull. My brother told me the calves from that bull would have some thickness. One worked pretty well, the other not so much, but I think the fault is with the 44 cow after two tiny calves.

Both the heifers were Hooks Yellowstone daughters. The 44 cow could use some frame, I think. I was a little concerned about putting very much of a power bull on her the first time. (Another reason she might need to move out). Both of the Yellowstone heifers are attractive, but udder quality concerns me as well on them.

Which leads me to this. Selecting an AI bull is a tough job. Some of them are there only because good money was paid for them. You can take expensive trips to look at bulls at the studs, visit cattle producers and discuss with friends, chase trends and numbers (may be the worst choice) and experience the "thrill of victory or the agony of defeat". But, I still enjoy looking out the window at a few cows and need to start thinking about semen for the upcoming breeding season.

Frame - I am confused on this. Here, people want some frame in their cattle. Bull studs seem to have lots of 4 to 5 frame bulls now. Breeders must be making those for somebody. But, who? My friends in the NE tell me that they need some frame. My friends in the SW tell me they need some frame. My friends in the NW tell me they need some frame. Lot's of simmental bulls come from the upper midwest. Minnesota and Nebraska and such. Do they like these 4.5 frame bulls and cows? Are the big time bull producers producing the frame cattle that the industry needs or what they think is needed? Do the registered breeders produce the frame cattle that the commercial guy needs? Bulls and replacements? Is it better to have smaller frame cows and add frame with the bull? We don't seem to have many choices for larger frame bulls in most breeds if we need to add frame.

Chickens and pigs are now mostly peas in a pod uniform with little genetic diversity. Performance and quality very predictable. Pretty easy to estimate production capacity and make quick adjustments. Beef cattle - not so much.
Must be some topics there for more discussion and opinions. Let's get the cattle related discussion going.
 

MurraysMutts

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Here is a picture of junior and mama. He is male and small with his 267 day gestation. Don't feel right calling him a bull.
View attachment 8678
If hes got nuts, hes a bull!

Maybe he identifies as non binary...

I take it hes gonna be a steer?
What is the plan to improve?
Like I said I dont ai, but if I notice a cow has abnormally small calves, I'd probably have to do something unless they just grow like a house a fire

Perhaps I missed it, but how many cows/heifers were ai'd to this bull?
Just the 2? And this one is the only problem 2 times in a row right?
 
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simme

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Perhaps I missed it, but how many cows/heifers were ai'd to this bull?
Just the 2? And this one is the only problem 2 times in a row right?
44 and 45 are 3/4 sisters bred to the same AI bull on the same day for their first calves. 44 had a very small calf born 267 days later that never caught up. 45 had a normal calf born at 285 days and is the stout bull calf pictured at about 6 months old. A year later 44 has another early very small calf sired by a different AI bull. Two strikes for her. Both AI bulls have sired many calves - normal gestation and growth.
44 is looking to spread her wings and travel and has never been west of the Mississippi. Fully vaccinated. Looking to have a name and not just be a number. :)
 

FungusProudKY31

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Dr. Bonsma said that a bull calf that is smaller than heifer mates is a sign of not fitting the environment. But if you are seeing the short gestation period that might not apply.
 

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