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PostSubject: Birthweights   Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:42 am

As the bull sale catalogs flow in, this year is no different from last year when I peruse each catalog's listing of birthweights. From my own experience of raising and selling registered Angus bulls at a public auction and producing a catalog to document it for 15+ years, some programs stand out as being closer to "reality" than many others. I'm listing 3 catalogs. Which program do you feel you can trust? Each listing will be 20 consecutive birthweights from somewhere in their catalog. Each program offers 100+ bulls.

#1 program, located in northern Plains:
89 - 73 - 92 - 94 - 74 - 80 - 91 - 104 - 80 - 91 - 106 - 68 - 88 - 92 - 84 - 89 - 70 - 88 - 102 - 78

#2 program, located central Plains:
88 - 86 - 88- 88 - 90 - 80 - 82 - 84 - 90 - 90 - 78 - 80 - 75 - 78 - 78 - 95 - 88 - 64 - 80 - 80

#3 program, located northern Plains:
72 - 75 - 71 - 68 - 73 - 73 - 72 - 75 - 77 - 76 - 80 - 79 - 79 - 71 - 74 - 81 - 81 - 80 - 70 -75

In summary, this becomes a very interesting exercise as these catalogs roll in. There's a guy in Iowa who could also be thrown into this topic, who only weighs his heaviest bulls and doesn't weigh anything else. Each to their own, I'm not passing judgement, but I am questioning where the Angus breed really is on birthweights. Some of these outfits look like they're fudging bigtime on birth, if you ask me. And then, as a future topic or something to throw into this, explain to me how the milk EPD's could have any validity with all the creep feeding and variations in feeding. For the life of me, I just don't get it. Maybe df could explain it, being the resident academic.
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Hilly



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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:03 pm

Don’t forget in some cases you have to calculate and adjust the weights for calves that have sucked before the BW has been taken.

I was instructed if a calf weight over 105lbs it had obviously sucked and adjusted back to 105 to a limit of 10lbs 115=105 120=110 and so on.

The part I could never figure out was how those calves were managing to drink all that milk by themselves in the first few hours, when they relied on me to prop them up for the first 1-5 days scratch

I am not sure if the registered Angus breeders use the same protocol as the weight of the colostrum may vary between breeds .... this year with all the heifers that are being bred it is more rewarding ... I mean important... than ever to have the “right” birth weight.

I do have to question operation #3’s ability to provide a bull for everyone with only 13lbs of deviation, operation #1 would appear, by the numbers anyway, to be much more progressive at 38lbs!!!!
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PatB



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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:10 pm

Number one looks more like my weights on calfs. I would be leery of number 3 weighing system.

pat
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Fri Mar 04, 2011 7:48 pm

So Dennis, being a commercial breeder and all, do birthweight numbers concern you, do you want data, EPDs, measures, or just turn out a longhorn, on the heifers? Do the Longhorn breeders take birthweights? or is it just the sham of glorified data, for the sake of marketing that consternates your craw?
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:46 pm

Bootheel wrote:
So Dennis, being a commercial breeder and all, do birthweight numbers concern you, do you want data, EPDs, measures, or just turn out a longhorn, on the heifers? Do the Longhorn breeders take birthweights? or is it just the sham of glorified data, for the sake of marketing that consternates your craw?

Birthweights concern me because my main goal is live calves. Longhorn breeders don't take birthweights but they sure as hell measure a lot of horns. In my case I trust the Angus breeder who supplies the bulls (myself) and I'm after that 80 to 85 lb calf. After reading Sinclair's newsletter handout and seeing the birthweight chart from the MARC study, which compared Angus (2.0), Red Angus (2.5), Gelbvieh (5.6), Limousin (6.0), Simmental (6.1), Hereford (7.0) and Charolais (10.0), I'm going to spend the next 2-3 years shopping for the right Charolais bulls, if they exist, for my purpose. I just don't want a big pile of white dead calves some day. I'd rather forget the heterosis than get into one of those jams. As far as the topic of birthweights, I think a catalog from a breeder should be analyzed from the birthweight information first, just like I talk about looking at feet first. We used to weigh 800 calves a year around here. The birthweights varied from 55-60lbs clear to 125lbs. Our birthweight listing from those days would look more like the #1 program. All of this excludes the idea of embryo transplant calves because those bastards can be all over the place and it doesn't mean a lot. I think analyzing birthweights in a catalog this way as a stream of information in a sequence will tell you a lot about the honesty of the breeder. I happen to know that the #1 program is about as honest as you could be. We used to get a catalog from a South Dakota breeder and we always looked forward to it for this very reason. We couldn't wait to find out which weight was his favorite birthweight that year. Many years it was 81lbs. I think the old boy could play God pretty good when it came to birthweights. So, if a breeder isn't honest with his birthweights, what else is he screwing with? My antenna goes up, the less deviation a breeder has. But that's just me.
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:13 am

Birthweight seems to be where the fraud starts in purebred circles. I worked briefly on one of the leading outfits here where the actual weights of 102lbs or 98lbs were recorded as 88lb or 90lb because it sounded better. I'm not familiar with the MARC data you quote but I've seen some in Canada that indicated the Angus and Charolais had more or less swapped places over the last 20 years in terms of BW and growth. Should that surprise us given the Charolais quest for lower birthweights to address a perceived weakness of their breed versus the Angus all-out push for growth? I am not at all frightened to use Charolais bulls and could find easy calving ones. The best one I ever bought is pictured below - 86lb BW from a reputable breeder and I never assisted a calf or lost a calf off him. We shipped him as an 8 year old so got 7 crops of calves off him. He is standing funny in this picture which makes him look wrong on his hind legs which he wasn't.



The biggest problem I found with the Charolais was lack of work rate and longevity. Somehow these things seemed to be lost in pursuit of easy calving
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Hilly



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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:50 am

That makes sense to me that a breeder would have some deviation and the breeders you posted would be much larger scale than what I do here which would increase variance, I guess I never had much to do with angus bulls over 85lbs here.

I weigh all my March calves on a digital scale in the barn and the replacement group bred “angus” I have very few out of the 70-80lbs range I did have three cow families out of that group, that I maintain in recent years at around 120hd, that I identified over the years as throwing weight and had to be removed and placed in the terminal herd.

I have kept heifers with birth weights below 70lbs, but try hard to hold fast to 80lbs on the top side with admitted grey area to 85 from time to time.

The one or two bulls that I keep if any will be below 80lbs and biggest steer from this group in recent memory was 95lbs out of my 74 cow and I have about weeded her family out for birth wt and poor mothering issues....

My larger terminal group will range from 70-115 I buy terminal bulls to target 85-95... I guess I can’t really explain why there is so much difference in deviation between the two groups except I have been dealing with the cow families in the replacement herd from the beginning and have more generations in that weight range.
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:36 am

I thought Unwanted was going to get me accused of being a number 3 breeder..until yesterday morning, a little inbred weighed 45 ...is birthweight a quantitative trait? I would think so....Can we "fix" the range of quantitative variation with inbreeding? I would think; not much...
Is type/shape a quantitative trait? I don`t think so, so it lends itself to "fixation" with inbreeding...
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sat Mar 05, 2011 7:37 am

Grassfarmer, I like the picture, your recent post with the deep snow is still straining my knees. I'm totally in the dark on the Charolais, but learning, MK and Mean Spirit are helping. I use to have bull buyers who weren't phased by birth wts. 100-125. Tom Walling was great about birth wts. he attracted alot of buyers to his sales because of integrity, Hilly. I always enjoyed his sales and hardly missed one.
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sat Mar 05, 2011 7:40 am

MK, don't cut the 45 pounder, he is the stud.
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:00 am

MK, I have him named (if LL does't mind) Shoshone Stringbean, I will use him on my Beetseed daughters, to produce a line called "Stringbeets" It's starting to sound like a marketing gem. "Unwanted Stringbeans" X "Unwanted Beetseeds"
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bullmonty



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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:05 pm

Dennis,
I agree with your observations on birthweights and sale catalogs. My question for you today is in your experience have you ever found a sire that was more consistent or less variable that others?

I my life time I have seen two. The one was several years ago and another that was seven years ago... The later didnt have much else to offer but in three herds with over 100 cavles he calved in a range of 75 to 84 lbs.... I was impressed with that data and kept several daughters of the bull hoping that they perhaps would carry this consistency on but they didnt get to stay very long.... They did calve fairly well but they were most consistent in raising poor calves and being open..... I needed the cashflow any way.

I would much rather find the bull that could provide that consistency rather than the random all over the board types....
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sat Mar 05, 2011 2:22 pm

Welcome Hi-Line, We had good luck with VDAR Traveler 407, GDAR Taveler 584 LT, and PAPA Forte 1921 as far as consistant bw. Biggest variation was PAPA Crusader 1925, PJM Powerpoint 104 and others.
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sat Mar 05, 2011 2:46 pm

I bought "hfr bulls" raised "hfr bulls" and the kind I dislike the most are the misshapen for delivery and the ones that go 65, 64, 71, 75, then bam...120, or bigger so pee on it now I send my hfrs to range cow development school with LH bulls.
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bullmonty



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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:55 pm

Dennis,

I understand the use of longhorns and why your doing it.... makes sense to me..... Perhaps my stubborness and desire to find those bulls that will consistently calve with in a given range drives me to my next question..... How do we find the bulls that dont have that variation....IMO and I have asked several times the breed associations need an index or epd for birth weight variation.... This perhaps would be a useful tool....
What are your thoughts...
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MKeeney
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sat Mar 05, 2011 7:09 pm

bullmonty wrote:
Dennis,

I understand the use of longhorns and why your doing it.... makes sense to me..... Perhaps my stubborness and desire to find those bulls that will consistently calve with in a given range drives me to my next question..... How do we find the bulls that dont have that variation....IMO and I have asked several times the breed associations need an index or epd for birth weight variation.... This perhaps would be a useful tool....
What are your thoughts...
I believe J Crouch when questioned to that effect told LL there was no difference in the variation in the data base {did he look?}...I remember many moons ago cruising along with PDBsky in the high 80`s, low 90`s on bulls...then pulling a 137 lb heifer calf from a cow...by hand Smile ...yes, I was younger and stronger then, and running against the wind Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:27 pm

We get our fair share of 90 plus pounders, confounding all attempts to prevent it but the bull is only half the equation. Unless, you are a straight line bred outfit that has selected for low birth weights, all bets are off. Often, the heavier calves perform well but I can't sell 'em and, in general, are not offered as bulls. Perhaps Program #3 selects the bulls they offer for low birth weights, I don't know. There are certainly a fair percentage of slime bags in the seedstock bidness. For similar reasons, I can't sell a bull that weans under 600 lbs. As a result, bulls that are in our sale generally have birth weights under 90 pounds and weaning weights over 600 pounds, not because we didn't have calves that fell outside these parameters but because we don't offer them as bulls.

I knew a guy that calved a registered herd of some continental breed, Limousin, I think, that was told by the owner that calves weighing over 90 pounds were unacceptable, so there weren't any. For marketing purposes, 120 pound calves were called 85 - 90 pounders. I imagine their is a fair bit of that going on.

Last Sunday, our oldest cow, a 1994 model New Trend 802 daughter, calved with teeny tiny twin heifer calves. The first one, the smallest, was born dead. The second came out like a wet noodle and remained that way for three days; couldn't get up, couldn't suck, wouldn't take the bottle, she just laid there. Now she is up and going, and starting to play. She tipped the scale at 44 pounds. That is the lightest live birth weight calf we have ever had. I'm not sure she is out of the woods but things are looking up. I wonder how light they can be and survive?
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:42 pm

The association lost me a long time ago, so I have no idea what they even do anymore, I still paper some of my parent stock, but thats just about it, I like the quality of the paper, almost as good as the quality of the AQHA reg. paper. It has a nice feel. MK is breeding some LH alternatives, called the" Unwanteds" In my mind the time for new ways to breed cattle are right now, right here, being lead by LL.
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:10 am

I had vistors yesterday, one a lurker here, who looked at the cows as a population...selected some bull tag numbers based on individuality of type relative to their needs/wants...we never looked at any paperwork, which the limited amount that will be offered will be ready next weekend...One of the two prospective buyers has used two bulls previously, so he has established expectations based on past performance; 600lb plus weaning weights based not on higher epds, but a problem free type that works in what must be a good grass environment in W Va...
Encouraging was the fact that the lurker here was young, and the past user of my bulls who is 65 plus like me, had his son along who obviously was as enthused as his dad about picking out bulls...yes, we can sure breed cattle more simply than a maze of numbers, and we can find at least some who will buy them if we don`t try to rob them of their money, common sense, or coon hunting time with illusions of mystical genes...

back to the question at hand; when birth weight is made the first selection priority, I suspect the range of variation will decrease some...when you quit trying to overcome the antagonisms aligned with birthweight and just "let it be", the variation will decrease much more...
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PatB



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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:39 am

Everyone thinks about bw not the shape of the calf. I am more interested in calfing ease and let the bw fall where it does. I am not a fan of real small 65 lb calves or smaller as they have a harder time handling the cold.
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MKeeney
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:05 am

patb wrote:
Everyone thinks about bw not the shape of the calf. I am more interested in calfing ease and let the bw fall where it does. I am not a fan of real small 65 lb calves or smaller as they have a harder time handling the cold.
I`ve found an easier way to handle cold than genetics...
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Tom D
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:26 am

AVOID IT!
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PatB



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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:21 pm

MKeeney wrote:
patb wrote:
Everyone thinks about bw not the shape of the calf. I am more interested in calfing ease and let the bw fall where it does. I am not a fan of real small 65 lb calves or smaller as they have a harder time handling the cold.
I`ve found an easier way to handle cold than genetics...

We all can't live in the sunny south. May/calving does not work well either with baby calves with momma's milk machine in overdrive from green grass.
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Tom D
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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:39 pm

patb wrote:
We all can't live in the sunny south. May/calving does not work well either with baby calves with momma's milk machine in overdrive from green grass.

It doesn't? Why not?
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Dan



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PostSubject: Re: Birthweights   Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:28 pm

need lower milking cows also they eat less feed
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