Rat tail cow

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nocows
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Rat tail cow

Postby nocows » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:19 am

I am new to the cattle business and I am still learning a lot, some of the things I've learned have been the hard way. I've been around cattle most of my life just never really knew much about raising/owning cattle, so my experience and knowledge is limited. Either way I am learning and have truly appreciated these forums, I've spent countless hours reading various posts on here. Decided it was finally time for me to create a profile.

I found several threads out there about the rat tail defect in some cattle, just couldn't quite find what I was looking for.

I recently bought 2 yearling heifers from a friend to add to my herd as I am slowly trying to build mine. He has a closed herd and it's pretty much a mixed bag of cows, He runs them with a nice black angus bull. One of them is a very nice looking black angus heifer her mom was angus, the other one is like a brown/smoke colored her mom was Charolais.

Due to my inexperience and lack of knowledge I didn't even know there was such thing as a rat tailed calf maybe he didn't either as he never said anything about it. I noticed the tail didn't have a switch and just thought maybe it was because she was young and it hadn't developed yet. :bang: Regardless I now own the calf and am not sure what to do with it.

All of my other cows are black angus cross of some sort and some are sim angus x

I bought these two with the intentions of breeding them next fall, should I cut my losses on the one and just get rid of it?

From what I've read and gathered they are not worth as much if you send them to the sale barn, can she be bred and be a worthy cow or am I just wasting my time? I can take better pictures when I get home.

Much appreciated.
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Jeanne - Simme Valley
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Re: Rat tail cow

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:08 am

The only thing I know about rat tails are they are not supposed to be efficient, thin hair coat. This heifer looks GREAT. She may have had her switch stepped on and lost it. They don't really come back. I would not worry. Looks like you got a great purchase.
BTW - welcome to the board.
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Re: Rat tail cow

Postby ALACOWMAN » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:23 am

Yep, their cheaper..they don't hair up much during cold weather,,,feedlots don't want them because of that.. to much energy to survive.. Have a couple every year myself out of Simmental cross cows..
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Re: Rat tail cow

Postby BRYANT » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:56 am

If I liked her before I figured out about rat tail cows and was going to breed her and make a momma cow then being rattail would not bother me now. What I don't like about them is the flies seem to bother them more, they don't have a good switch to swat them with. As for selling cheaper they will some I bought one out of OKC Stockyards ,cheap, took her home and raised several calves out of her she made me several $$$$ . That's the kind I like to buy with a fault like you are talking about buy them cheap , put a good bull on them, calve them till they are wore out , sell them as a killer cow. and they will make you money. They may not be the prettiest cows in the neighbor hood but I don't care if they will make me money.
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Re: Rat tail cow

Postby Lucky_P » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:18 am

Nice heifer. Brown doesn't necessarily mean 'rat-tail', and as Jeanne said, the missing switch may or may not be an indicator of that condition... could be a traumatic loss. I wouldn't dump her just because she's brown... breed her the right way, and her calves should be just fine.

We have several of those brown cows in the herd, due to the Simmental color dilution gene contributed by bulls used in the 1980s. Have had a few rat-tails born, all sired by Angus sires - funny, those sired by black Simmental bulls don't come that way... and if it's all about interaction of the black and color dilution genes, it shouldn't matter if it's Angus or Simmental contributing the next round of black hair genes... but that's the way it's shaken out here.

We're trying to breed away from the 'brown' because of discrimination at the salebarn...but our brown/brown blaze-faced cows are some of our most productive, so they keep on producing 'til they 'trip up' some way or another. I just breed them all to Shorthorn or black Simmental bulls, anymore.
Have two Fall 2016 brown heifers, both the exact same color, by the same Angus sire... one is a rat-tail with the short, curly haircoat(7/8 Angus), one is not(31/32 Angus)... I like the breeding behind both... but we've decided to ship both this fall instead of breeding them... have plenty of good black/baldy and red heifers coming on that won't potentially produce brown or rat-tail calves in the future.
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Re: Rat tail cow

Postby nocows » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:29 am

Thanks for the feedback sounds like I might keep her and give it a shot, I got a pretty decent deal on them as the guy needed to move them. I was worried about that carrying over to her offspring.
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Re: Rat tail cow

Postby farmerjan » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:57 am

We occasionally get a rat tailed calf and it is out of a charolais/angus cross usually. If you like the heifer then don't sweat it. We usually keep them if they are nice, and sell them if we don't like them. Don't see any big difference in them during the winter and the couple that we have usually raise nice calves or they wouldn't be here. Most all "brown" heifers like that will throw a dark smokey or black calf bred to an angus in our herd so that's fine. Some places will discount them but we haven't seen much difference between the rat tail and not rat tailed if the same color. It's the color that will hurt them here as much as anything but a good smokey calf will do okay if it is a good calf.
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Re: Rat tail cow

Postby Lucky_P » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:07 am

Smokey calves, looking like a Char-X will usually bring a premium here, but the brown ones get hammered, whether they're a rat-tail or not.

Makes me mad... sometimes they(and the occasional red calf) are essentially a 7/8 sib to black calves in the same group, but get discounted just for hair color. I understand that the true rat-tails have some performance issues in winter on the high plains, but a brown calf... not necessarily.

Had some calves in the Tri-County steer feedout several years ago... one of mine was the top steer overall for ADG, HCW, REA, REA/CWT, overall profitability. Red, Shorthorn-sired steer out of a brown white-faced 3/4 AN 1/4 SM cow. I keep breeding her that way, and she keeps producing steers... and I guarantee that they make somebody some money - and a good eating experience...
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Re: Rat tail cow

Postby Muddy » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:15 am

Rattails are super cheaper here due to our harsh cold climate and they have highest mortality in feedlots during the winters. Rattail cows may be a good cow in the South, but they seldomly are used as a breeding cow up north.

Your brown heifer isn't a rattail which is a good thing. It looks like her tail got stepped on.
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Re: Rat tail cow

Postby Muddy » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:22 am

Lucky_P wrote:Nice heifer. Brown doesn't necessarily mean 'rat-tail', and as Jeanne said, the missing switch may or may not be an indicator of that condition... could be a traumatic loss. I wouldn't dump her just because she's brown... breed her the right way, and her calves should be just fine.

We have several of those brown cows in the herd, due to the Simmental color dilution gene contributed by bulls used in the 1980s. Have had a few rat-tails born, all sired by Angus sires - funny, those sired by black Simmental bulls don't come that way... and if it's all about interaction of the black and color dilution genes, it shouldn't matter if it's Angus or Simmental contributing the next round of black hair genes... but that's the way it's shaken out here.

We're trying to breed away from the 'brown' because of discrimination at the salebarn...but our brown/brown blaze-faced cows are some of our most productive, so they keep on producing 'til they 'trip up' some way or another. I just breed them all to Shorthorn or black Simmental bulls, anymore.
Have two Fall 2016 brown heifers, both the exact same color, by the same Angus sire... one is a rat-tail with the short, curly haircoat(7/8 Angus), one is not(31/32 Angus)... I like the breeding behind both... but we've decided to ship both this fall instead of breeding them... have plenty of good black/baldy and red heifers coming on that won't potentially produce brown or rat-tail calves in the future.

I saw few rattails were out of full blooded Simmental cows and a black Simmental bull and a rattail from a black Corriente cow and a Charolais bull.
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Re: Rat tail cow

Postby bird dog » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:58 am

I have had a true rat tail in my herd for three years now. I bought her cheap at a herd sell out. She won't hair up as much in the winter and doesn't slick off completely in the summer. She stays thin no matter how good the forage is. Other than that, she is a pretty efficient animal, a darn good mother and very gentle. I breed her to straight angus and her black calves weigh out at weaning right at the average. Her calves so far have sold in the same groups as my better more expensive cows.
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Re: Rat tail cow

Postby ALACOWMAN » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:39 pm

Looking at her picture on the other page the tip looks clean.. Usually on a true rat tail the tip feathers out.. So it Could be from damage...
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Re: Rat tail cow

Postby Red Bull Breeder » Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:42 am

Never seen a brown rat tail calf. Grey colored most times.
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Re: Rat tail cow

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:34 am

Red Bull Breeder wrote:Never seen a brown rat tail calf. Grey colored most times.

Whether the animal is grey or brown, they are all black cattle carrying the diluter gene. They can be as light as a silver all the way to one that is "almost" black.
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Re: Rat tail cow

Postby Lucky_P » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:24 am

Agree, Jeanne.
I've got diluted black cows that range from almost white, like a Charolais(one of these goes back to a little Char-X cow we bought in 1986, and may have the Charolais color-inhibitor gene, but the other one has only the Simmental color dilution gene), to silver to gray to brown to dark chocolate brown. 'Incomplete penetrance' would be the scientific term to describe that range of color from animals, most of which have only one copy of the diluter gene... and the dominant black coat color gene.

RBB. Yearling rat-tail heifer here is about the same color brown as the heifer shown in this thread; maybe a shade darker... but she has a brown paternal half-sib who is not a rat-tail - with slick (not kinky) haircoat and full tailswitch.
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