Having too much calving ease?

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Rafter S
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Re: Having too much calving ease?

Postby Rafter S » Wed May 23, 2018 12:52 pm

I pay a lot of attention to calving ease when I'm putting a bull on 15 month old heifers, but none when selecting a bull to use on mature cows.
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Re: Having too much calving ease?

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Wed May 23, 2018 2:35 pm

Stacking CE is a disaster waiting to happen - if, and only if, you don't pay attention to all the other EPD's & tools available. At least in the Simmental breed, there are good CE bulls with good growth traits (average or better) and good MCE, (called SPREAD bulls). I'm sure ALL breeds have them. Watch your numbers across the board, don't just focus on CE direct.
I definitely would not pay any attention to how small the bw was for retaining a heifer. How she grows is the biggest factor for me. On the opposite side, you need to watch heifers with really large bw's and be careful what bull you breed her to for first calf.
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Re: Having too much calving ease?

Postby Ky hills » Thu May 24, 2018 11:13 am

For my cattle, I certainly want calving ease. I don't particularly enjoy having to constantly babysit and assist with cows calving or having to work with slow to get up and going calves which sometimes occurs with larger BW calves. For heifers we use low BW and CED's of 7 or higher bulls, and have the heifers pelvic measured, for tools of selection to help minimize calving issues, but still check them regularly. For cows I am ok with using average or a little higher BW bulls, but I don't want to have to babysit cows, and don't particularly enjoy assisting the birth or having to work with weak and slow to get going calves. I feel that cows should be able to give birth to calves easily within a range of weights but when using known higher birthweight bulls be it anomalies of the same breed or breeds known to sire calves much bigger then extra management is to be expected. My concern is the use of say for example an Angus bull with a -3 or even -4 BW, and CED in the high teens to +20. It is my belief that if those numbers as well as others are accurate then for most herds that is over kill so to speak.
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Re: Having too much calving ease?

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Thu May 24, 2018 7:12 pm

I have never had pelvic measurements on my heifers. Not saying I don't believe in them, just have never been convinced I needed that service. We may help 1 heifer in two years calving seasons - at most. Not counting abnormal presentations to cows and/or heifers.
I believe in growing out my heifers prior to breeding so that they can easily handle a 80 - 100# calf. Most are in the 70-85# range. I guess small pelvic sizes are not a problem for the type of cattle I choose to raise.
And, I do not grain feed thru calving. My heifers are fed about 5# whole shell corn from weaning to breeding in our "nice" NY winters. Then they go out on pasture with the cows when they are bred.
I talk to many people that are so worried about calving out heifers. Just never has been a problem for me - ever.
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Re: Having too much calving ease?

Postby Bright Raven » Thu May 24, 2018 7:15 pm

Jeanne - Simme Valley wrote:I have never had pelvic measurements on my heifers. Not saying I don't believe in them, just have never been convinced I needed that service. We may help 1 heifer in two years calving seasons - at most. Not counting abnormal presentations to cows and/or heifers.
I believe in growing out my heifers prior to breeding so that they can easily handle a 80 - 100# calf. Most are in the 70-85# range. I guess small pelvic sizes are not a problem for the type of cattle I choose to raise.
And, I do not grain feed thru calving. My heifers are fed about 5# whole shell corn from weaning to breeding in our "nice" NY winters. Then they go out on pasture with the cows when they are bred.
I talk to many people that are so worried about calving out heifers. Just never has been a problem for me - ever.


My experience here has been the same. I have had heifers deliver 100 pound calves, unassisted
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Re: Having too much calving ease?

Postby Stocker Steve » Thu May 24, 2018 7:47 pm

Heifers can have problems. Lots of reasons for it.
What do your problem free heifers weigh at calving?
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Re: Having too much calving ease?

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Thu May 24, 2018 9:19 pm

I don't have weights at the time of calving, but my 2 yr olds that calved this year in Jan & Feb, weighed between 1000# and 1290# on March 20 - workup prior to breeding. Same group back in October (pregnant) weighed between 1090# and 1375#.
Research has shown that heifers that are low BCS have more dystocia due to lack of energy and calves are more prone to get sick & die if they are born thin.
Sometimes producers justify their management to have least cost - but, least number of dead calves saves most money - IMO
Not trying to step on toes. Everyone has to manage their herd to fit their environment & time & money allotted to devote to their herd.
Mine - I put little extra cash & labor into my heifers from weaning to breeding. Then they are expected to live on grass & hay and act like a cow. I don't make them compete against the cows during the winter. 2 & 3 yr olds are kept separate from mature cows while on hay.
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Re: Having too much calving ease?

Postby Ky hills » Thu May 24, 2018 9:53 pm

I believe adequate body condition has a lot to do with proper heifer development. Too much condition can affect negatively but I sometimes think some folks use that as an excuse to cut corners on feeding. Heifers that are in good shape have a much better chance of meeting the pelvic measurement threshold, which probably accounts for at least part of why some folks have minimal calving issues from heifers, genetics also I believe plays a role in that area as well. We calve out a few heifers almost every year, and typically don't have many issues, that being said I try to minimize as variables as possible. I feed them around 4 lbs average through out weaning until calving. A little more during the winter and less in summer after breeding.
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Re: Having too much calving ease?

Postby Stocker Steve » Thu May 24, 2018 9:56 pm

Good post.

I don't wean till late, so no a lot of time between weaning and breeding.

What is "low" BCS for a calving heifer?
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Re: Having too much calving ease?

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Fri May 25, 2018 5:43 am

Stocker Steve wrote:Good post.

I don't wean till late, so no a lot of time between weaning and breeding.

What is "low" BCS for a calving heifer?


I "think" it is recommended not to be below a 6 BCS
Here's an article on feeding pregnant heifers:
http://www.stockadebrands.com/articles/ ... -dystocia/
Great "plain-Jane" language for BCS:
http://aglifesciences.tamu.edu/animalsc ... coring.pdf
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Re: Having too much calving ease?

Postby Ebenezer » Fri May 25, 2018 6:19 am

"For my cattle, I certainly want calving ease."

I want easy calving. It can come without the problems of very low birth weights. But it also requires knowing/selecting for calf shapes and avoiding pedigrees with high birth weights. So, it is limiting.

I'd prefer that no heifer gets over BSC 6. Too much development (fat) in heifers will ruin the lifetime milk production. We can support heifers after calving with supplementation to help them along. One of the better options is something with bypass fat in the product. That was one of the strong selling points on a product that was discussed here at CT during the winter called Mix 30.

My experiences: Calf survival depends as much on the vigor of the calf from the sires side as the mother's ability to birth.
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Re: Having too much calving ease?

Postby ALACOWMAN » Fri May 25, 2018 7:52 am

Rafter S wrote:I pay a lot of attention to calving ease when I'm putting a bull on 15 month old heifers, but none when selecting a bull to use on mature cows.

A lot of the guys around here,use one bull on both.. and low birth weight ..but the average herd is 25 head..
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Re: Having too much calving ease?

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Fri May 25, 2018 10:54 am

quote "Too much development (fat) in heifers will ruin the lifetime milk production."
You are correct - to a point. Every cell in the udder that develops fat - will NEVER produce milk. But, that is only a problem BEFORE they are bred. After they are bred, their body does not "allow" milk cells to fill with fat. Now, this is old dairy research, but I have many agree with this fact.
So, when you see these little butter ball heifer calves with fat in their udders, you can expect them to be poorer milkers.

Quote "My experiences: Calf survival depends as much on the vigor of the calf from the sires side as the mother's ability to birth."
Calf vigor is number one in getting a live calf - I TOTALLY AGREE, especially in the winter or muddy spring/fall. But, that can be inherited in their genes (which is what we all are looking for) OR lack calf vigor from dams BCS. Been proven, thin calves have less vigor and are not able to withstand the cold.
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Re: Having too much calving ease?

Postby Dave » Fri May 25, 2018 3:31 pm

My solution to stacking up the calving ease genetics is simple. I would never keep a heifer calf out of heifer. I want to keep heifers out of a cow who has been around a while and proven herself. And that type of cow isn't bred to a calving ease bull.
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Re: Having too much calving ease?

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Fri May 25, 2018 5:14 pm

But, theoretically, your heifers should be your best genetics, if you have been working on improving your herd. Right now, I just pulled in 4 of what I consider my top heifers (out of 14?) - two are out of 2 yr olds, 1 out of a 3 yr old, and 1 out of a cow. The one out of the cow is probably the lightest weight, but she is the smallest frame. Just the pedigree. But, my heifers' calves are far from being my "poorest" or riskiest for CE
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