what happened to the calving ease?

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farmwriter

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I know I've posted before about the young bull we bought that turned up cripple and we had to get rid of him. Well, apparently he was tagging the heifers just fine with his gimp leg, but I'm getting more and more glad that sucker is gone!!!
As of this morning, eight of our heifers have calved, and all five bull calves had to be pulled. Now, these are the same female genetics that over the years since we bought the first generation, we've only had to pull 2 calves.
All I could think Monday night while we were all out in the flooding rain and lightening getting eaten up by fire ants was "I sure hope the man who sold that bull was just wrong about the EPDs and not a flat-out LIAR!"
Really disheartening to see all these first-calvers having so much trouble. And I've missed terribly that I couldn't get a little sympathy from my cow board friends! It's good to be back with ya'll!
 

Herefords.US

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farmwriter":3gzp83ey said:
All I could think Monday night while we were all out in the flooding rain and lightening getting eaten up by fire ants was "I sure hope the man who sold that bull was just wrong about the EPDs and not a flat-out LIAR!"

If there is a "liar" involved it's most likely the EPDs and not the breeder. The key here is "young bull". The EPD accuracies on unproven bulls usually fall under .25 and when you put a LOT of faith in EPDS with that low of accuracy, its about the same as betting on a longshot in a horse race.

That said, since you've had to pull that many calves, I'd look a lot closer at the way the heifers were managed before I put all the blame on the bull.

George
 

angus9259

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Herefords.US":6uc83o25 said:
If there is a "liar" involved it's most likely the EPDs and not the breeder. The key here is "young bull". The EPD accuracies on unproven bulls usually fall under .25 and when you put a LOT of faith in EPDS with that low of accuracy, its about the same as betting on a longshot in a horse race.

That said, since you've had to pull that many calves, I'd look a lot closer at the way the heifers were managed before I put all the blame on the bull.

George

Yes. As a seller of bulls (angus to boot), this is my worst nightmare. A bull producer can do the best they can to manage EPDs and sell calving ease bulls, but 1. there are always outliers and 2. I've come to believe that things affecting calving ease have to do with 1. environment (temps, feeding, calving season) and various things related to female management and 2. bull selection.

Sadly, to your point, it's how people are marketing bulls. Every ad I see for angus bulls says the exact same thing "calving ease, high growth" leading people to believe that the bull is the magic elixir. I've gotten away from these words - I'm sure having lost business for it - but it simply imparts an unhelpful reality in the minds of the customer - and an expectation I can't deliver upon.
 
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farmwriter

farmwriter

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That's fair, George, but when we really haven't done anything differently with this group of heifers than we have any other year, I can't see how nearly identical management could have made such a drastic change in the number of calvings that require assitance.
Your thoughts? Tell me what practices could have lead to all the bull calves thus far needing help getting here? Got plenty more left to calve, so I'm all ears.
 
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farmwriter

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I don't mean to sound like we were chasing magic numbers or anything when we got the bull, but we were interested in other bulls at this sale that we did not bid on because we were looking for something to put on the heifers - something to get the first calf here successfully - so calving ease was a big concern, much more so than weaning weight, for example.
Sounds like the exact problem you were describing with current marketing, Angus9259. Can't help but wonder if some of the bulls with higher birth weights on paper would have worked out better in the pasture.
 

novaman

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farmwriter":k8s1l9xn said:
I don't mean to sound like we were chasing magic numbers or anything when we got the bull, but we were interested in other bulls at this sale that we did not bid on because we were looking for something to put on the heifers - something to get the first calf here successfully - so calving ease was a big concern, much more so than weaning weight, for example.
Sounds like the exact problem you were describing with current marketing, Angus9259. Can't help but wonder if some of the bulls with higher birth weights on paper would have worked out better in the pasture.
I just wanted to point out that you can have higher birth weights and still have calving ease. The EPD's are nice but as was said they aren't proven. We have always had good luck looking at the head, shoulders, etc. of the bull in order to guess at his calving ease. I've seen a lot of bulls that are called easy calving and have a huge head and big shoulders. As far as you managing your heifers the same every year, I've found that there can be no changes (that you are aware of) but there are always variables you don't see or can't manage that seem to come into play all the time. By the way, when you say you have to pull do you mean using a puller or just putting a strap on and assisting by hand?
 

Herefords.US

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farmwriter":zhzf1k2t said:
That's fair, George, but when we really haven't done anything differently with this group of heifers than we have any other year, I can't see how nearly identical management could have made such a drastic change in the number of calvings that require assitance.
Your thoughts? Tell me what practices could have lead to all the bull calves thus far needing help getting here? Got plenty more left to calve, so I'm all ears.

It could also be something as simple as getting more rainfall resulting in the pastures being extra lush during a particular time in pregnancy - or cooler than normal temperatures than usual during the last trimester.

And it could indeed be the bull. I'm just saying that you need to look at and reexamine everything - since you've had that much trouble.

George
 

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farmwriter":10docaxt said:
I know I've posted before about the young bull we bought that turned up cripple and we had to get rid of him. Well, apparently he was tagging the heifers just fine with his gimp leg, but I'm getting more and more glad that sucker is gone!!!
As of this morning, eight of our heifers have calved, and all five bull calves had to be pulled. Now, these are the same female genetics that over the years since we bought the first generation, we've only had to pull 2 calves.
All I could think Monday night while we were all out in the flooding rain and lightening getting eaten up by fire ants was "I sure hope the man who sold that bull was just wrong about the EPDs and not a flat-out LIAR!"
Really disheartening to see all these first-calvers having so much trouble. And I've missed terribly that I couldn't get a little sympathy from my cow board friends! It's good to be back with ya'll!

Ouch. EPDs are the best indicator of a bull's breeding value. As you know, though, they aren't magic, but even the low accuracy ones are better than eyeballing a bull. I'd encourage people to look at the pedigrees of bulls they're interested in, both top and bottom of pedigrees. If you breed a bull with a 5 BW EPD to a cow with a negative (-) BW EPD you might get a calf with an average BW EPD. But that won't necessarily be what you wind up with when the calves start coming. Good luck with the rest of the calves.
 
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Dun - thanks as always. Yes, the first generation girls were bred to a composite bull (as heifers) when we bought them, and that year we had to pull 2 calves. One calf didn't make it, the other was rejected, but I bottled him and he fed out fine for the freezer. Since then, black angus bulls every year.

Novaman - Good point, and I agree. Shoulders are a deal-breaker in my book. 8 Ball (what we called the bull) had a great look. And you're right of course about the environment. We did get significantly more rainfall this year than the past few years, but we have such poor sandy soil, I wonder how much difference that would actually make. And at this point, who can really say? Two were simple assists, two were a little more difficult, and one poor girl had one leg all the way back. Obstetrical chains and a pole for leverage/handle are all we've used.

George - temps about the same, but as I said above, we did have a much wetter than normal year, so it could have made a difference, too. I've just been really disappointed that we've gone from years of ZERO trouble during calving to most of them needing help. All I really know to do about it now though is keep a close watch and keep the supplies ready.

Thanks Frankie. Yeah, the seller had pedigree numbers, too. Just one of those things I guess.

Another question - what about the heifers born in this calf crop? How worried should I be that these girls are gonna have some trouble when they're calving? The three heifers are out of three of the best mamas in the bunch, and I'd like to add them to the herd. Your thoughts?
 

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farmwriter":3m7jltig said:
I know I've posted before about the young bull we bought that turned up cripple and we had to get rid of him. Well, apparently he was tagging the heifers just fine with his gimp leg, but I'm getting more and more glad that sucker is gone!!!
As of this morning, eight of our heifers have calved, and all five bull calves had to be pulled. Now, these are the same female genetics that over the years since we bought the first generation, we've only had to pull 2 calves.
All I could think Monday night while we were all out in the flooding rain and lightening getting eaten up by fire ants was "I sure hope the man who sold that bull was just wrong about the EPDs and not a flat-out LIAR!"
Really disheartening to see all these first-calvers having so much trouble. And I've missed terribly that I couldn't get a little sympathy from my cow board friends! It's good to be back with ya'll!
What weights were the calves?
 

dun

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farmwriter":20swji3y said:
Another question - what about the heifers born in this calf crop? How worried should I be that these girls are gonna have some trouble when they're calving? The three heifers are out of three of the best mamas in the bunch, and I'd like to add them to the herd. Your thoughts?
Well you already suspect there is a problem with the bull so that would make me a bit leery. Have the grils pelvic checked as yearlings and select form those that fall into your criteria for pelvic size. Also check the shape of the opening. High and narrow is preferred to wide and low
 

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Another question - what about the heifers born in this calf crop? How worried should I be that these girls are gonna have some trouble when they're calving? The three heifers are out of three of the best mamas in the bunch, and I'd like to add them to the herd. Your thoughts?

I'd give them a chance, depending on their growth, etc. As has been mentioned, there are lots of things that affect calving besides genetics.
 

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farmwriter":3fymmsbp said:
"...I sure hope the man who sold that bull was just wrong about the EPDs and not a flat-out LIAR!..."

I would assume these are registered bulls you are buying? I would not take the sellers word for "calving ease". Get the registration number and look it up yourself and see if it makes sense based on the pedigree and other information posted. It can still be manipulated by an unscrupulous breeder but I think that you are more likely to get a truer picture of calving ease, even if it is low accuracy, than an offhand comment by the seller. jmho.

Having to pull 5 out 8 (63%) calves and all (100%) of bull calves so far, and assuming no change to your females from last year, does not seem to be a fluke or "EPD accuracy" issue. It seemslike a clear indication of a major bull calving ease issue to me!

You should probably be prepared to pull the same percentage of the rest of them, unfortunately. jmho. Jim
 

angus9259

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farmwriter":1afzn2fh said:
That's fair, George, but when we really haven't done anything differently with this group of heifers than we have any other year, I can't see how nearly identical management could have made such a drastic change in the number of calvings that require assitance.
Your thoughts? Tell me what practices could have lead to all the bull calves thus far needing help getting here? Got plenty more left to calve, so I'm all ears.

Funny how irony strikes at just the right time . . .

Just had a bull calf between my postings. A Traveler 004 calf - 70 lbs 4 days early. EXACT same cow on the exact same pasture on the exact same hay had a bull calf last year from SAV Bismark that was 100 lbs. Check the EPDs on those bulls! The ONLY difference was this calf came today (Dec 18) and her last calf came in February (about a week early) after a brutally cold winter. But maybe that didn't even matter. Maybe it just falls into the "what the . . . ??!?!" category. :???:

Don't get me wrong. I use EPDs and I submit data for EPD development. But the bull is only part - at times a small part - of the equation. I guess - being a bull supplier and all - I just don't like the implications that when something goes wrong the bull supplier is either a lier or doesn't get it.
 

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SRBeef":26ms0f4p said:
farmwriter":26ms0f4p said:
"...I sure hope the man who sold that bull was just wrong about the EPDs and not a flat-out LIAR!..."

I would assume these are registered bulls you are buying? I would not take the sellers word for "calving ease". Get the registration number and look it up yourself and see if it makes sense based on the pedigree and other information posted. It can still be manipulated by an unscrupulous breeder but I think that you are more likely to get a truer picture of calving ease, even if it is low accuracy, than an offhand comment by the seller. jmho.

Jim

Let's see, Jim...you THINK you can learn more by looking at a bunch of numbers on a website than listening to the thoughts of the breeder who actually raised the bull, has probably seen more than one generation of the cattle in the pedigree and truly has some experience in dealing with "calving ease" of the cattle in that pedigree firsthand? If that's true, then I'd say you've taken a GIANT LEAP backward in your learning curve. Sounds like you're still trying to get those numbers to work all the time, even though their accuracy levels tell you they don't!

George
 

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Herefords.US":1gs56jqc said:
SRBeef":1gs56jqc said:
farmwriter":1gs56jqc said:
"...I sure hope the man who sold that bull was just wrong about the EPDs and not a flat-out LIAR!..."

I would assume these are registered bulls you are buying? I would not take the sellers word for "calving ease". Get the registration number and look it up yourself and see if it makes sense based on the pedigree and other information posted. It can still be manipulated by an unscrupulous breeder but I think that you are more likely to get a truer picture of calving ease, even if it is low accuracy, than an offhand comment by the seller. jmho.

Jim

Let's see, Jim...you THINK you can learn more by looking at a bunch of numbers on a website than listening to the thoughts of the breeder who actually raised the bull, has probably seen more than one generation of the cattle in the pedigree and truly has some experience in dealing with "calving ease" of the cattle in that pedigree firsthand? If that's true, then I'd say you've taken a GIANT LEAP backward in your learning curve. Sounds like you're still trying to get those numbers to work all the time, even though their accuracy levels tell you they don't!

George

George, I would trust anything Jerry Huth told me about a bull. And I did and his recommendations have been proven far better than any choice I would have made.

However from Farmwriter's original post it sounds like she's trying to decide if the breeder she bought a bull from is a "Liar" or not. Sounds like she bought based on his comment alone rather than checking numbers.

I frankly am not good at determining if people that I don't know very well are telling me the truth or not about a subject that I don't know much about. If I don't know much about a subject I try to find someone who does and who I trust and listen to what they tell me to do. Trust is preferred. Most breeders can probably be trusted.

However with the degree of question in Farmwriters post it may be a good idea to at least look at the numbers and see if they jive with what the breeder is telling me.

If they do not jive, then I would ask the breeder why he feels differently from what the numbers seem to show... Having to pull 63% of your first 8 calves and 100% of the bull calves so far sounds to me like much more than a statistical aberration of low accuracy EPD's. jmho.

Jim

edit: As with many things related to cattle, having a "calving ease" bull turn out to be quite the opposite is an EXTREMELY expensive mistake, especially in a smaller, one-bull herd. Not only do you run the risk of losing a cow and/or calf but you have basically wasted a year. In addition I would be VERY hesitant to keep any heifers and certainly not bull calves from this bull mating. So you lose out on any herd expansion possibilities too. You have to basically start over again this summer.
 

dun

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Herefords.US":3r86dr1a said:
SRBeef":3r86dr1a said:
farmwriter":3r86dr1a said:
"...I sure hope the man who sold that bull was just wrong about the EPDs and not a flat-out LIAR!..."

I would assume these are registered bulls you are buying? I would not take the sellers word for "calving ease". Get the registration number and look it up yourself and see if it makes sense based on the pedigree and other information posted. It can still be manipulated by an unscrupulous breeder but I think that you are more likely to get a truer picture of calving ease, even if it is low accuracy, than an offhand comment by the seller. jmho.

Jim

Let's see, Jim...you THINK you can learn more by looking at a bunch of numbers on a website than listening to the thoughts of the breeder who actually raised the bull, has probably seen more than one generation of the cattle in the pedigree and truly has some experience in dealing with "calving ease" of the cattle in that pedigree firsthand? If that's true, then I'd say you've taken a GIANT LEAP backward in your learning curve. Sounds like you're still trying to get those numbers to work all the time, even though their accuracy levels tell you they don't!

George
Calving ease is different depending on who you talk to. Some people think you should pull a number of calves just to "challenge" the cows. Myself, I figure if it's a hard delivery (long labor) that is NOT calving ease.
If the seller is unscrupulous looking at numbers may be a better bet then listening to the seller.
 

Herefords.US

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dun":3jfwice8 said:
If the seller is unscrupulous looking at numbers may be a better bet then listening to the seller.

If the seller is unscrupulous, then I'd suggest that doing business with someone else would be a much better bet than looking at low accuracy EPDs that same unscrupulous seller also contributed to.

George
 
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Fellas, ya'll be civil, now. Don't make me feel like I started something.
I realize we had it good for a while and difficulties are gonna pop up from time to time, but trying to minimize the possibility of problems is what we're all after. Neither numbers, talking, nor eye-balling are a magic bullet in and of themselves, but they are all tools to use.
That being said, whether the seller's info was mistaken or intentionally misleading isn't all that important to me now. Bottom line for me is what he's producing and what we're producing didn't mix well for us, so I won't be trying that again.
That bull is gone, so he won't be making anymore calves. Our bull calves will be eaten, so no issue with them creating more problems. Deciding what to do with heifers is a decision we've got plenty of time to make, and I thank you all for sharing your opinions. I'll let you know how the rest of it goes!
Thanks again for the responses.
 
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