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Manipulating AI calves birth weight?

True Grit Farms

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There's no doubt that the low birthweight market is where the money's at in bull sales. And lower birthweight heifers sell better if they carry good condition. So wouldn't a person be wise to feed low value 9%-10% hay the last trimester and no feed or high value pasture of any kind? I have a few specialty sales on my list for next season calves and trying to figure out the best and most profitable way to market my animals. I'm sure I'm not the first one to think about this management style. To me it beats lying or fudging on the actual weight of the calves, which I know happens on a consistent basis.
Just fishing for a few different ideas. Thanks
 

Margonme

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I suspect there are some dishonest reports on birth weights. I suspect some because they are estimated rather than weighed. But don't underestimate the producers out there that want growth and rarely can you have low birth weights and top tier growth in the same bull.
 

True Grit Farms

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Margonme":2o77u5cx said:
I suspect there are some dishonest reports on birth weights. I suspect some because they are estimated rather than weighed. But don't underestimate the producers out there that want growth and rarely can you have low birth weights and top tier growth in the same bull.

By cutting back on feed to the cow you'd be cutting back on fetal growth not development? Wouldn't a smaller weight calf with the same DNA have better weaning and rate of gain numbers than a big calf with the same DNA? I know you can alter the weight of a weaned calf by supplementing them, so why not start before the calf is born?
 

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True Grit Farms":daiadook said:
Margonme":daiadook said:
I suspect there are some dishonest reports on birth weights. I suspect some because they are estimated rather than weighed. But don't underestimate the producers out there that want growth and rarely can you have low birth weights and top tier growth in the same bull.

By cutting back on feed to the cow you'd be cutting back on fetal growth not development? Wouldn't a smaller weight calf with the same DNA have better weaning and rate of gain numbers than a big calf with the same DNA? I know you can alter the weight of a weaned calf by supplementing them, so why not start before the calf is born?

Cutting back on feed will moderate birth weight. But unless these are registered seedstock cattle, I don't think most buyers are looking at the weight of one calf and buying the cow based on that one data point.

Your question: Wouldn't a smaller weight calf with the same DNA have better weaning and rate of gain numbers than a big calf with the same DNA? What you are saying is that if you produce a smaller calf by reducing in vivo growth, it will make the weaning and yearling weights look better. I would not pursue that approach. To answer, the DNA is not altered. That will have more to say about the performance than how you fed the cow.
 

talltimber

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Won't cutting feed on heifers limit the condition on heifers right before a stressful time of needing the most strength and stamina they have required thus far?
I have talked to an old timer that used to do that. He said he was wrong, and doesnt do it that way anymore. He keeps their heifers gaining, or holding, up to calving. He used to cut them back to keep from calves getting too big, but wound up making heifers weaker. He thought they were quitting him too quick because they got tired faster. His was from a easy calving standpoint mostly, though he did say that he thought the calves were stronger now, not just bigger.
 

Margonme

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talltimber":3knaq1wn said:
Won't cutting feed on heifers limit the condition on heifers right before a stressful time of needing the most strength and stamina they have required thus far?
I have talked to an old timer that used to do that. He said he was wrong, and doesnt do it that way anymore. He keeps their heifers gaining, or holding, up to calving. He used to cut them back to keep from calves getting too big, but wound up making heifers weaker. He thought they were quitting him too quick because they got tired faster. His was from a easy calving standpoint mostly, though he did say that he thought the calves were stronger now, not just bigger.

I think so! I guess moderation is due because you don't want them over conditioned but I like my heifers growing and in good condition. I have had good luck with my first time heifers breeding back.
 

True Grit Farms

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I've been known to sell registered seed stock from time to time. I even have a few ET cows but I haven't hit the big one yet. Like it or not, we all can use the same bulls and females, the gene pool is getting smaller and smaller in cattle. Back in the day it was called line breeding, now it's called AI and ET. The same results can be achieved but with a more predictable outcome. The use of DNA has created the data that we can base our breeding decisions on.
Every bull sale that I attended this year the lower birthweight bulls brought the most money. A bull with a 100 lb birthweight in the southeast is hard to sell, even if his CED and BWEPD is decent. Sadly this is just the way it is.
 

True Grit Farms

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Margonme":3ttcdlky said:
talltimber":3ttcdlky said:
Won't cutting feed on heifers limit the condition on heifers right before a stressful time of needing the most strength and stamina they have required thus far?
I have talked to an old timer that used to do that. He said he was wrong, and doesnt do it that way anymore. He keeps their heifers gaining, or holding, up to calving. He used to cut them back to keep from calves getting too big, but wound up making heifers weaker. He thought they were quitting him too quick because they got tired faster. His was from a easy calving standpoint mostly, though he did say that he thought the calves were stronger now, not just bigger.

I think so! I guess moderation is due because you don't want them over conditioned but I like my heifers growing and in good condition. I have had good luck with my first time heifers breeding back.

I'll just throw this out there. Nature doesn't work this way, just the opposite as a matter of fact. But once the heifer or cow calves start her on a high output diet like you were finishing her off for slaughter. Do you think this will help your numbers for the calf? And ultimately the price you can sell the animal for?
 

TexasBred

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Pregnant cows need adequate energy and protein for proper growth and health of the fetus and to keep up their own body condition (cows too thin may have poor uterine contractions during labor and need assistance, and may also be slow to breed after calving) but overfeeding protein may result in big calves and more calving problems. Overfeeding energy (making cows too fat) may create too much fat in the pelvic area, and lead to difficult calving. Hay and/or grazing has always worked fine for me.
 

True Grit Farms

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talltimber":3cj5uafh said:
I'm not following you, TG. Primarily the "just the opposite" thing.

After struggling to survive the winter, most if not all animals rear their young during the spring and summer. That's when everything is growing and providing the best nutritional value.
 

talltimber

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Ok, I'm with you.

Concerning your bw accuracy thing, I have been told by an elderly gentleman still registering cattle that he no longer weighs anything. He said he talked to AAA about it and they told him to just not write anything down. Don't estimate. I wonder how that would work out. Looks to me like that would be giving him a free roll, if he would be the type to try to take advantage of it, which I don't think he would. Strikes me as a good older fella that doesn't want to get freight trained at his age, that's all.
 

Lucky_P

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Restricting nutrition during late pregnancy is potentially a recipe for disaster... and I see it too frequently, though it's usually a result of ignorance and not intent...

Calves born to cows that have had restricted protein intake during the last trimester have a harder time generating body heat, take much longer to get on their feet and nurse, and the restricted cows produce significantly less colostrum... In other words, if they're calving in cold weather, you can end up with a whole bunch of dead calves, and those that do manage to make it are gonna perform poorly, and may be more predisposed to chronic disease issues.
 

dun

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There is a much easier way to "manipulate" reported birth weights. Just lie and report a weight you feel would make people consider the bull a calving ease bull. Of course you would have toi have everyone that ever used the bull do that for the accuracy to go up enough to have him considered proven.
 

City Guy

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Another ignorant city guy observation. I hadn't even thought of nutritional manipulation as a means of promoting calving ease. Sounds like a bad idea IMO. Seems to me that other means besides smaller birth weights and shorter gestation could be used to help this situation. How about measuring pelvic areas? I know of one breeder who claims to measure calves head diameters and selects replacements with smaller heads!?
Sounds extreme but...? How about just selecting calves from cows that "naturally" calve easily, regardless of calf size (within reason)?
 

Margonme

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City Guy":zujuhm3h said:
Another ignorant city guy observation. I hadn't even thought of nutritional manipulation as a means of promoting calving ease. Sounds like a bad idea IMO. Seems to me that other means besides smaller birth weights and shorter gestation could be used to help this situation. How about-face measuring pelvic areas? I know of one breeder who claims to measure calves head diameters and selects replacements with smaller heads!?
Sounds extreme but...? How about just selecting calves from cows that "naturally" calve easily, regardless of calf size (within reason)?

This is not "face measuring" but I have the pelvis of heifers I retain and sell measured. A caliper device is inserted into the rectum to get the height and width of the birth canal. The measurements are in centimeters. The two measurements are multiplied to arrive at a square centimeter number. As a rule, you want the measurement to be about 160 square centimeters at yearling.

Regarding selecting those that calve easy - that is what EPDs attempt to do.
 

dun

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Margonme":23aa9nam said:
I have the pelvis of heifers I retain and sell measured. A caliper device is inserted into the rectum to get the height and width of the birth canal. The measurements are in centimeters. The two measurements are multiplied to arrive at a square centimeter number. As a rule, you want the measurement to be about 160 square centimeters at yearling.

Regarding selecting those that calve easy - that is what EPDs attempt to do.
Bingo. There are also EPDs for maternal calving ease that can be used to select replacements. I have yet to figure out why people try to make this all so dam complicated.
 

pdfangus

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THE FACT THAT PEOPLE WILL FOLLOW AND CONTRIBUTE TO A THREAD ABOUT MANIPULATING BIRTH WEIGHT ......

IS WHY EPDS ARE PRETTY MUCH A CROCK OF BOVINE FECAL MATERIAL....

honest people make honest cattle
 

True Grit Farms

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pdfangus":2q1fv0fd said:
THE FACT THAT PEOPLE WILL FOLLOW AND CONTRIBUTE TO A THREAD ABOUT MANIPULATING BIRTH WEIGHT ......

IS WHY EPDS ARE PRETTY MUCH A CROCK OF BOVINE FECAL MATERIAL....

honest people make honest cattle
We're told not to over feed a heifer in her last trimester because the calf might grow to large and hinder calf delivery. Isn't this manipulating birth weight also? Or is this just good herd management? Jim, I agree 100% with your assessment, but I see where LBW birthweight bulls have been averaging $1,000.+ more according to the EPD'S only. Where there's money there's crooks.
 

pdfangus

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THERE was a guy in this state a few decades ago who subscribed to and advertised what he called the Australian philosophy...

he raised Simmental cattle and some kind of sheep....

WHAT HE stated publicly was that no one was allowed in his pastures during calving and or lambing season....

IT was the cow or ewes job to have and raise a calf or lambs and she would be judged on how well she did that job.

In all fairness this was before coyotes and black buzzards became a public nuisance around here....

but that is selection for calving ease and production balanced.
 
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