How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

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Penantly
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How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

Post by Penantly » Fri Jun 21, 2019 5:27 pm

Hi guys. This is my first post but have been reading your posts for quite a while. I have a small cow herd and have been fooling with cattle for a few years. I am currently in expansion mode. I always swear off buying bred heifers but seem to come home with them anyway. I understand the first calf is generally not going to do as well as following calves. Is there some rule of thumb as to what the second or third calf will do based off the first calf if using same bull? For example if you wean a 500 lb steer at 7 months off a heifer will she raise a 600 lb calf at 7 months with same inputs on the second calf?



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Re: How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

Post by TCRanch » Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:26 pm

Maybe. If you're using the same bull it depends on the heifer/cow, nutrition, health, vaccinations (sound animal husbandry), sex of the calf, weather/time of year, and whether she breeds back consistently. I'm sure I'm missing many more potential factors.

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Re: How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

Post by Katpau » Fri Jun 21, 2019 7:46 pm

The American Angus association adjusts the weights of calves based on the age of their mom at the time of weaning. I assume those adjustments are based on the averages of all weights reported in the past. They do this in order to compare adjusted weaning weights of calves born to different age cows. A calf born to a cow that is less than 3 years and 91 days old when that calf is 205 days old would have 67 pounds added if it was a bull calf and 55 pounds if a heifer. A cow between the age of 5 years 92 days and 10 years 91 days has no adjustment, but cows younger than that or older will have their weaning weights adjusted for age. Those numbers can be viewed at the AAA website.

In other words, Angus 2 year old heifers on average wean calves that are 55 pounds (heifer) to 67 pounds (bull calf) lighter then they will wean as 5 year olds.

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Re: How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

Post by Coosh71 » Fri Jun 21, 2019 8:51 pm

That's a tricky question. We have had great looking heifers raise lil dinks and we have had heifers raise some monster calves. I'd say this... Out of first calf heifers it's more important to get live/healthy calves and get mom bred back with the cow group she is going to be blended in with as a cow. If you can do that then with 2nd and 3rd calf is when we start judging a little harder.

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Re: How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

Post by bird dog » Fri Jun 21, 2019 9:15 pm

Agree with Coosh here but to answer your question yes the second calf should be better and the next few after that better still, all things being equal. Its after their third calf you can really judge the cow.

I buy a few bred heifers and second calf young cows but like to see a calf from my bull before deciding.

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Re: How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

Post by SPH » Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:03 pm

It really depends on your environment and herd management practices. We breed for calving ease so we expect them to calve unassisted and be a good mother to their calf. If they are lazy and aren't showing effort when in labor or are terrible mothers and have issues claiming their calves they usually don't last long. The 1 problem we sometimes run into is the heifer milks so well and we have a dry summer they can't keep their weight up and breed back later or come up open. With ideal conditions most of the 1st calf heifers breed back on 1st cycle but we've seen that the 2nd year calving is the one they sometimes breed back 3 weeks later because we had a hot and dry year and they didn't cycle as soon.

Those females that breed back like clockwork and calve the same week every year and wean a good calf are the ones you build your herd around. Heifers are such a crapshoot. Over the years I've seen some great looking heifers turn out to be terrible cows and have seen marginal heifers we nearly culled turn into some of the best cows we've had so you'll have a gut feeling...

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Re: How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

Post by gcreekrch » Fri Jun 21, 2019 11:41 pm

I want a heifer that will calve unassisted, mother her calf, breed back and wean a live calf of any weight

We don’t always get what we want.
Vaccinations, cheaper than whiskey. ;-)

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Re: How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

Post by ClinchValley86 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:09 am

gcreekrch wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 11:41 pm
I want a heifer that will calve unassisted, mother her calf, breed back and wean a live calf of any weight

I think that is realistic. Especially living with whatever they produce, weight wise.

They're growing themselves, growing another calf hopefully, and feeding their 1st calf. Asking a lot of them

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Re: How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

Post by Jeanne - Simme Valley » Sat Jun 22, 2019 4:29 pm

Penantly - first off - WELCOME!!
Katpau gave you the best/correct answer. All breed associations have a table that gives you the adjusted weights.
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Re: How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

Post by Nesikep » Sat Jun 22, 2019 8:08 pm

I've seen some variations on the theme... some odd scenarios...
I've seen first calf heifers raise exceptional calves the first time and kinda "outdo" themselves, the second calf not doing as well, but usually by the 3rd calf they will be in full swing
I've seen some first timers have small calves and progressively get better, and some that raised dinks that never did any better.
This cow had a small heifer the first time, and average one the second, and then she had the biggest steer of the herd, Now 9 years old she has the sassiest heifer.. on the left is her maternal sister, she did really well with her first (last year) but this year I'm unexcited about her calf.. maybe next year she'll settle into it
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Re: How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

Post by Stocker Steve » Sat Jun 22, 2019 10:02 pm

SPH The 1 problem we sometimes run into is the heifer milks so well and we have a dry summer they can't keep their weight up and breed back later or come up open. With ideal conditions most of the 1st calf heifers breed back on 1st cycle but we've seen that the 2nd year calving is the one they sometimes breed back 3 weeks later because we had a hot and dry year and they didn't cycle as soon.[/quote wrote:
We have two generations of "improved" bulls in most of our replacement heifers. Many are raising calves that are as big as the mature cows, but then they calve at the end of the season the following year.

No drought, very good pasture, just too improved...
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Re: How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

Post by Nesikep » Sun Jun 23, 2019 12:37 am

That's kinda what I'm seeing from the limos crosses I have.. they milk very well right from the start but the mommas look like a can of smashed arseholes by the end of the season.. so far they've bred back alright though
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Re: How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

Post by Jeanne - Simme Valley » Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:15 am

There are exceptions to everything. The breed associations chart is AVERAGE. That is the only thing you can base your cattle on - or give this OP an answer. EVERY animal is different.
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Re: How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

Post by Katpau » Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:16 am

There are always exceptions, but in most cases you can expect your heifer to wean progressively heavier calves as she ages from a first calf two year old to a mature 5 year old. For anyone interested I have posted the averages for Angus cattle below. In that table, you can see that the average increase in weaning weights between the first calf and the second is between 23 and 30 pounds, depending on that calves sex. You would expect her to continue to increase weaning weight up to 5 years old. Cows 10 and older are also expected to wean lighter calves.

Weaning Age of Dam Adjustment Chart
If Age-of-dam (at 205) is:
Add Lbs. to Age Adjusted Weaning Weight
..........................................MALE FEMALE
thru 2 yrs. 243 days......................68 57
2 yrs. 244 days thru 3 yrs. 91 days.....67 55
3 yrs. 92 days thru 3 yrs. 273 days.....37 32
3 yrs. 274 days thru 4 yrs. 91 days ....29 21
4 yrs. 92 days thru 5 yrs. 91 days .....15 13
5 yrs. 92 days thru 10 yrs. 91 days .....0 0
10 yrs. 92 days and older............... 22 19

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Re: How much do you expect from 1st calf heifers?

Post by Katpau » Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:35 am

You should also expect your heifer to give birth to progressively heavier calves as she ages from 1 to 5 years of age. On average a heifer will give birth to a calve that is about 7 pounds lighter then you can expect out of her at 5.

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