Calving Season

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Calving Season

Postby Backbone Ranch » Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:29 pm

Calving season started a little over a month ago for us. Our first calves were officially due out of AI sires on February 27th and 28th, with the rest of our herd starting on March 9th. So far, we have had 8 bull calves and 3 heifer calves. Four of the bull calves are definitely AI sired, but we have one that we are unsure about, so we will get DNA testing done on him sometime before weaning. Most everything has gone well, but we did have to pull a large bull calf that was born backwards. We still have 17 cows left, and they are all bred to our herd bull, BB Uncle Tony. These are some pictures of our first calves this year.

801 Bull- This calf was born on February 17th at 70 lbs. He is sired by Murray Grey bull from New Zealand named Ballee Thumbs Up. This calf has looked like a bull from day one. He is pictured here at 25 days.
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805 Bull- This is another AI sired bull calf. He is sired by MCC Trigger's Champion, a USA bred bull that was born in the late 1970s. This calf was 78 lbs at birth and is out of our oldest Tony daughter. He looked kind of plain for the first few days, but he already is starting to fill out and deepen. He is 13 days old here.
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809 Bull- This was the calf that was born backwards that had to be pulled. He is sired by JOPA Elation Power, a bull from the late 1980s. We will be culling the mother of this bull calf after she raises this calf, even though this is only her second calf. She is one of our smaller cows, and when bred to two different bulls, has given birth to calves that are extraordinarily blocky with huge bone structure. We have had to pull both of her calves so far. This bull calf was our largest to date, weighing in at 104 lbs. He is pictured here at 12 days. He will be one heck of a steer!
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These next two calves were born in the fall of 2017 and are out of some first calf heifers. As a group, these are by far the best fall calves that we have ever had. Both of these calves are 5 months old and are sired by BB Uncle Tony. The bull was 68 lbs at birth and the heifer was 46 lbs, our smallest to date.
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This last photo shows one of my favorite cows. She is 50% Murray Grey x 50% Angus and is approaching 9 years old now. She can be a bit of a pain after calving, but she raises great calves. She has produced a replacement quality calf every year since she was a first-calf heifer. We have kept a handful of her daughters for our own herd and every one of her bull calves has sold to commercial herds since 2012. She is bred to Tony again, and I am hoping that she has another heifer this year. She has had three Tony sired calves so far, all of which have been really nice.
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Thanks for letting me share! I will try to get more pictures when I head back home in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully we will have some more heifers by then!
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Re: Calving Season

Postby Dogs and Cows » Wed Mar 21, 2018 7:00 am

Thanks for the pictures...I always love opening your threads to see your Murray Greys!

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Re: Calving Season

Postby Bestoutwest » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:47 am

Those are some really nice looking calves! Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Calving Season

Postby lithuanian farmer » Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:52 pm

Nice calves! And really like the length of that cow.
I have to admit, that haven't seen a calf in the real life looking this wide like 809 bull calf. He looks impressive! Post more photos of him growing. :)
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Re: Calving Season

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Thu Mar 22, 2018 6:29 am

Very impressive calves/cattle. I love the 805 heifer best and the last cow. Good to hear you will be castrating your heavy bull (big shouldered) - yes, he will make a GREAT steer.
I have always been impressed with MG. Really amazed that they haven't gotten more popular.
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Re: Calving Season

Postby Backbone Ranch » Sat Mar 24, 2018 2:51 pm

Thanks for the feedback! Even though we are only halfway through our calving season right now, I am very happy with how this set of calves looks at this age. For reference, here are the AI sires we used.
Ballee Thumbs Up- Sire of the 801 bull
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Spectrum Kenton- Pictured here as a 5 year old. He is the grandsire of our very best cow and great grandsire of our current herd bull. He is the sire of a bull calf that is approaching a month old. Kenton weighed 2,700 lbs at maturity and is a frame 6.
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MCC Trigger's Champion- Sire of the 805 bull. Trigger's Champion had a 68 lb birth weight and was out of a first calf heifer. At weaning, he weighed 800 lbs. His pedigree includes some of the best Murray Greys of that era; we are eager to get more calves out of him in the future.
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JOPA Elation Power- Sire of the 809 bull. He is pictured here as a 3 year old and much of our herd goes back to this bull. He was born on a farm in West Virginia, and was later sold to a breeder in Canada. We had a heifer out of Elation Power last year that we have retained for our own herd. Elation Power scored really well for both tenderness and marbling when we tested him with Igenity. Looking forward to getting more calves out of him too. Elation Power had a 75 lb birth weight, 205-day weight of 772 lbs, and a mature weight of 2,320 lbs. He is a frame 5.
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Lithuanian Farmer- We have never had, and I have never seen, a calf that is as stout as 809 from birth. Both of his parents are free of the double-muscle gene, so that is not a contributing factor. We have nicknamed him "Bulldog" just because he is so massive through the shoulders. I will definitely be posting more photos of him as he grows.
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Re: Calving Season

Postby lithuanian farmer » Sat Mar 24, 2018 3:59 pm

I've once seen a photo of Aubrac bull with insanely wide front and a crossbred heifer. A bull with such front could be called a "cow killer" if used for breeding. Oh, and just recently saw one bull in a video. As I know all these went for beef.
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Re: Calving Season

Postby Backbone Ranch » Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:58 pm

We are now almost 2/3 of the way through calving. Have 15 bull calves and 4 heifers on the ground currently. Fingers are still crossed for more heifers, but I have to admit, that these are some of the best looking bull calves that we have had at this age. Here are some pictures that I was able to take this past week.
802 Heifer- Pictured at 18 days of age and out of one of my favorite cows. This heifer was only 68 lbs at birth; her full sister was born unassisted and weighed 100 lbs at birth last year. I have high hopes for this heifer. She is sired by BB Uncle Tony.
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This is another Tony daughter. Her mother has been in the AI group for the past two years, so this is her first Tony calf. She was 74 lbs at birth and is pictured here at 11 days. I really like this heifer too.
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And now for the bulls...
803 Bull- This is the first calf that we have ever had out of Spectrum Kenton. We AIed to Kenton in hopes of adding some mass and width to a cow that looks great, but has historically raised calves that are a little on the narrow side. We will be repeating this mating for next year. This bull was born on February 25th at 82 lbs. He is 5 weeks old here.
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805 Bull- This young bull has quickly become one of my favorites. He is our Trigger's Champion son that is out of a Tony daughter. He is 29 days old in the pic.
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807 and 811 Bulls- Both are Tony sons that are 21 and 29 days old. They were 72 and 82 lbs at birth. We have a full sister to the bull calf on the right in production right now, and she is one of our best 3 year olds.
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815 Bull- This calf is pictured here at 2 weeks of age and is standing next to his mother. He was 88 lbs at birth. I am fairly positive that he is a Tony son, but we AIed his dam to a dark Murray Grey bull and this bull was born 15 days post-AI. His mother has never had a calf over 72 lbs since we bought her 3 years ago, but his coloration surprised me.
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823 Bull- This calf is 75% Murray Grey and 25% Angus. He is sired by Tony and is out of one of our top cows. His mother will be 9 years old this fall, and has produced a replacement quality calf every year without fail since she was a first-calf heifer. Image

And here is a current picture of "Bulldog", our JOPA Elation Power calf. He is 29 days old in this picture.
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Re: Calving Season

Postby elkwc » Mon Apr 02, 2018 6:58 pm

Nice cattle. The calves look real nice at this stage.
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Re: Calving Season

Postby frieghttrain » Mon Apr 02, 2018 9:58 pm

Looking great as usual! I like that Kenton calf
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Re: Calving Season

Postby Backbone Ranch » Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:07 pm

I was able to get some updated photos of the calves today, so I thought I would post them. We are still waiting for a handful of late calvers, but other than that, we are pretty much done calving until fall. We ended up with almost 80% bulls this year.

801 Bull- This calf is now approaching 2 1/2 months old. He is the Ballee Thumbs Up son first pictured earlier in this thread. We are very happy with how he is growing out and will be breeding a handful of cows to his sire in about three weeks.
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These next three bull calves are all Tony sons. The first bull is a 30 day old 75% Murray Grey x 25% Angus calf. The second is a 4 week old 7/8 Murray Grey x 1/8 Angus bull. The third is a 7 week old purebred calf.
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This next calf is a 75% Murray Grey x 25% Angus heifer calf that was born during this last rain storm. She is three days old here and is a Tony daughter. Her birth weight was 72 lbs. Her mother is an 8 1/2 year old that has been one of our top producers for years; every single one of her calves has either been retained or sold for breeding stock.
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805 Bull- This is our Trigger's Champion son. He is just shy of 60 days. He was 78 lbs at birth and is quite growthy. His dam is a 4 year old, and is becoming one of our best cows. I'm hoping that this bull will deepen more as he ages.
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815 Bull- This was the calf that we were unsure as to the parentage. He is either a son of Tony or MCC Trigger's Champion. Now that he is a little older, I am fairly confident that he is a Trigger's Champion son. They have extremely similar conformations and both are the tallest/ growthiest bulls of this year's calf crop. This bull is 6 weeks old.
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And I know that she is not a calf, but this is one of our best 3 year old cows. She has done a great job raising her first calf and will be in our AI group this year. She is a full sister to the 811 bull calf.
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Re: Calving Season

Postby holm25 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:04 pm

Looking great! How is your little “bulldog” doing?
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Re: Calving Season

Postby Backbone Ranch » Thu May 03, 2018 2:15 pm

The bulldog bull calf is doing well. He just hit two months old. He is still very wide, but the other calves seem to be catching up to him in that regard. Here he is beside his mother at 58 days of age.
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Re: Calving Season

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Thu May 10, 2018 10:41 am

You seem to use quite a few OLD bulls. Do you have trouble finding good modern bulls?
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Re: Calving Season

Postby Backbone Ranch » Fri May 11, 2018 3:42 pm

Jeanne - Simme Valley wrote:You seem to use quite a few OLD bulls. Do you have trouble finding good modern bulls?


To be honest, it is difficult to find good modern Murray Grey bulls with the characteristics that we are looking for. There are some exceptional bulls in Australia, but I can think of only a handful that have had semen imported in the last decade. We are really focused on maintaining an animal that is early maturing, moderate framed, and efficient on minimal inputs, while maintaining the carcass attributes that the Murray Grey breed is known for. Many of the older sires that we are using were either born in Australia during the 1970s and 80s, or are one generation removed from those original Australian sires. Even though they are older bulls, we are getting some exceptional calves out of them. Despite being out of older genetics, the calves still have decent growth and we are very pleased with them.
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