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High Tailhead and Calving

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randiliana

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Just got my Calving issue of the 'Canadian Cattlemen' magazine. There is a very good article in there about conformation and calving. I won't go into it all, cause it is rather long, but remembering the thread about high tailheads, I thought this excerpt would shed some light. Article is by Heather Smith Thomas.

"Calving ease conformation is very important. Try to select females with wide pinbones, with a lot of length from hooks to pins, and a lot of width between the hook bones. This gives a wider pelvis with more room for calving and generally creates a tipped-down pelvis, rather than level or tipped up. A tipped-up pelvis makes for more calving problems since the calf must come up and over the pelvic brim in an arc.

The full-term calf and heavy uterus is hanging down in the abdomen, resting on the abdominal floor. As the calf is pushed up and over ther brim of the pelvis during labour, his front feet tend to hit the top of the birth canal if the pelvis is tipped up (as it generally is in a cow with a high tailhead), rather than making a smooth arc. If the calf's feet are jamming into the the top of the pelvis or birth canal each time she strains, this may cause the cow enough discomfort that she will put off calving, and the delay in calving may result ina dead calf if the placenta eventually starts to detach."


Another excerpt

" Montana veterinarian Ron Skinner has raised purebred Angus and Saler cattle for more than 40 years and has some definite opinions on what makes a good cow. " A lot of high marbling cattle, and some of the popular pedigrees just make me shudder when I look at the back end of those cows (or bulls). The saler cattle, when they originally came over here from France, had a rump on them like a Quarter Horse, with a very sloped rear end. They were round rumped, with a low tailhead - below the line of their back. People hated the looks of that be cause it didn't fit hthe show ring. But those cows could stand there and squirt out a calf with no problems. American breeders started changing them to fit what the American purebred breeders wanted to look at, and what would sell, and the French people just shook their heads" says Skinner.
"Too many people who are showing cattle today have it in their minds that a cow has to have a high tail head (tipped up pelvis) as a sign of femininity, but this too me is a sighn of future calving problems", he says."


I found this article, to be very helpful and informative, but too long for me to copy into here ;-)
 
A

Anonymous

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:clap: :clap: :clap:

Thankyou for posting that!! If only a few people heed this advice, it will be worth it. :tiphat:
 

KNERSIE

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Although I agree mostly with the article, I have to disagree that you can select a big pelvic opening by selecting cattle with a long hip and width between the pins and between the hooks. I am not arguing with that what he selects for, I select for the same traits, but for different reasons. What you see from the outside rarely gives a true indication of what the pelvic opening will look like inside.

Look at the jersey breed, they are phenotypically 100% in contrast with the article's idea of easy calving cows, yet they spit a calf out without effort. Yes, jersey calves tend to be smaller, but we've crossed jerseys with holsteins, hereford, brahman, galloway when we've had the dairy and nowadays its the craze to cross them with Fleckvieh to make a better grazing animal under our conditions and still calving problems is unheard of in jersey herds here.

I have a cow family in the commercial herd that when you look at them from behind you'd think they'll never calve out a rabbit, but they are the easiest calving line i've ever seen, never pulled a single calf out of that line and I have 4 generations of that family in my herd.

My point being, the pelvic opening is something that can only be assesed by palpation and pelvic measuring, simply eyeballing the cow from behind is a very imprecise science.
 

alexfarms

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KNERSIE":1rfnruvl said:
Although I agree mostly with the article, I have to disagree that you can select a big pelvic opening by selecting cattle with a long hip and width between the pins and between the hooks. I am not arguing with that what he selects for, I select for the same traits, but for different reasons. What you see from the outside rarely gives a true indication of what the pelvic opening will look like inside.

Look at the jersey breed, they are phenotypically 100% in contrast with the article's idea of easy calving cows, yet they spit a calf out without effort. Yes, jersey calves tend to be smaller, but we've crossed jerseys with holsteins, hereford, brahman, galloway when we've had the dairy and nowadays its the craze to cross them with Fleckvieh to make a better grazing animal under our conditions and still calving problems is unheard of in jersey herds here.

I have a cow family in the commercial herd that when you look at them from behind you'd think they'll never calve out a rabbit, but they are the easiest calving line i've ever seen, never pulled a single calf out of that line and I have 4 generations of that family in my herd.

My point being, the pelvic opening is something that can only be assesed by palpation and pelvic measuring, simply eyeballing the cow from behind is a very imprecise science.

My experience seems to agree with you, it would be hard to predict pelvic area by visual inspection. I have heard this argument about a slope to the rump for better than 20 years now and I just don't see it as being accurate.
 

whitecow

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There is much more to calving ease than pelvic area. Obviously the size of the calf plays a major role, but so does the conformation of the calf. Slender shoulders are much easier to pass through the birth canal than wide shoulders. I agree that the width of the female is not completely indicative of the pelvic area, but I do believe that the outside appearance is highly correlated with inside area. Not many of us will make the effort to measure the pelvic area of out heifers. Width of the hips in probably the next best thing....along with proper bull selection!
 

KNERSIE

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I have heard this argument about a slope to the rump for better than 20 years now and I just don't see it as being accurate.

I see the merit in a SLIGHT slope from hooks to pins, I think that has been proven over and again for those willing to look past the old show standards.

Overcook this slope and you are no better off than having the exact opposite.

Slender shoulders are much easier to pass through the birth canal than wide shoulders

Again I agree in theory, just the way this is applied in the industry is counterproductive in my opinion. Wide well muscled masculine shoulders and a broad chest floor (and add to that a strong wide masculine head) is something that developes at puberty and continues to do so while growing to maturity. I have never seen a calf born looking like that. Selecting for narrow shoulders, and a long slender head in bulls and arguing that its the length of the calf that adds the weight and that that don't influence the difficulty of birthing is doing more harm in the long run.

By all means select for good sound shoulders, but don't be afraid of wide masculine shoulders in a bull or a strong head with width from end to end.

In my experience the three things in the calf that causes the most problems is heavy bone, poor shoulder structure and very long legs.

In cows lack of capacity combined with big leggy calves is what causes the most malpresentations.
 

whitecow

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Slender shoulders are much easier to pass through the birth canal than wide shoulders

Again I agree in theory, just the way this is applied in the industry is counterproductive in my opinion. Wide well muscled masculine shoulders and a broad chest floor (and add to that a strong wide masculine head) is something that developes at puberty and continues to do so while growing to maturity. I have never seen a calf born looking like that. Selecting for narrow shoulders, and a long slender head in bulls and arguing that its the length of the calf that adds the weight and that that don't influence the difficulty of birthing is doing more harm in the long run.

By all means select for good sound shoulders, but don't be afraid of wide masculine shoulders in a bull or a strong head with width from end to end.

I couldn't agree more. My point about slender shoulders was simply my observastions of witnessing/assisting with dystocia (for my job, not so much in my own herd). I did not intend to suggest that bulls should be selected for calving ease based on their own mature appearance. I think EPD estimates for calving ease and maternal caving ease for most breeds are beginning to show some accuracy. I chose to place more weight on these EPDs than on visual inspection of a bull for calving ease....especially since >90% of my calves are from AI sires.
 

novatech

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Yesterday; Heifers first calf, long legged, 80lb. calf. Narrow hipped close pen heifer. No problem.
I do not believe anyone can predict from looking from the outside.
I believe proper selection of easy birthing cows is just as important as bull selection.
I pulled my last calf over 40 years ago and swore I would never do it again.
I worked for a vet and had to cut up calves to get them out. No more, not for me.
First on my list is fertility. Have to get a calf to be able to sell it.
Calving ease of both cow and bull runs a close second. Have to get a live calf to sell.
 

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