Help getting BW's down

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ThumbHereford

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My wife and I started raising Herefords about 4-5 years ago and man we love to learn the hard way.... This year so far has been a stressful one, 5 calves on the ground, 6 more to go. Lowest BW this year 92lb bull calf out of first time heifer (AI bred to CE bull, too big IMO), and just today.... largest calf ever on our farm 126.3lb bull calf, not a bad pull but a pull nonetheless and it's got me worried for the next 6 yet to come. We AI'ed the first 4 successfully all to 3.5CE and higher bulls. The cow that calved the record breaker today is the beginning of the naturally bred calves all to a -1.0CE bull.... The common denominator in all these BW that I figure is feed, this is our first year feeding baleage, which I cut at 30% flowering stage (in future I'll wait until 80-100%). I've tried alternating between Baleage and dry hay but I just haven't had the dry hay to maintain a 50-50 ratio. My personal belief is that the cows are getting too quality of feed and this in turn is contributing to larger weight calves. I ordered a fence line feeder and plan on utilizing a gate type system to attempt a time limit type feeding, not allowing them to have access to the Baleage any time they want. I'd say weather played a factor too, but we had the warmest february I ever remember. Any thoughts, ideas, past experiences, am I right in my thinking?
 

mrvictordomino

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Probably with the high quality of your baleage and the quantity consumed I would assume your females are in terrific condition. A definite factor that could cause you extra BW. The warm February would only contribute to your cows staying in good shape. Usually the colder the winter the heavier the calves. My suggestion would be to limit the amount you feed to keep the cows in good shape but hold your best quality feed and feed it after calving.
 

wbvs58

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When you say baleage and flowering I assume you are referring to Lucerne or Alfalfa as you call it and this is very high protein and therein lies your problem.

Ken
 
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ThumbHereford

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You would assume correct. I'd say they are BCS 5-7. Definitely going to be remodeling the feedyard, when feeding dry hay i would just keep a bale in front of them I can't do that anymore. Thanks for your suggestion I'm definitely going to use it. The hay stands are orchard grass, Timothy, and alfalfa, and when I planted them I took some wrong advice on lbs per acre it's very high quality feed and that's why I was thinking of not cutting in the spring until full bloom in hopes of lowering the quality of the alfalfa.
 

farmerjan

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I would think more the bull also, but it seemed you were trying to be somewhat sensible in your choice. We have anygus and crosses in a commercial herd and always use a CE bull on the heifers. Usually a -2 or better. For the cows we use a + but not extreme. Use mostly natural service. The heifers calving are all having 60-70 lb calves, popping them out like popcorn and the calves are up and nursing in an hour or less.
We have been feeding wrapped sorghum-sudan and rye baleage as well as dry hay. They get 1 roll baleage to 2 rolls hay usually. Have not had any problem with extreme sized calves. It has been an abnormally warmer winter overall here also. We have never limit fed our cattle, and I am a bit pushy about them having "plenty". We do try to let them clean up one day a week or so; but not if the weather is real cold or snowy/bad weather.
We do not feed any alfalfa to dry cows, and the orchard grass is decent hay, but we feed mostly first cutting to the dry cows then the better hay to the ones with calves. Our first cutting last year was very late so is not the best, way over mature, but it was made dry and was in good shape if over mature.
 

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