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Grassfarmer



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PostSubject: Weaning day thoughts   Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:12 pm

Well I weaned a bunch of calves today as we've had a couple of quiet days and the outlook was decent. As it's later than usual, and potentially pretty frosty, I decided not to use the nose tags this year but to simply fenceline wean them. I also skipped weighing all the calves individually - something I've done since the mid 80s when we first got a weigh scale. As I don't sell fresh weaned calves I'm not too interested in what they weigh today - what will be will be. I want to keep the stress down as well so the less handling the better.

It's always struck me how over the years, despite different breeds in different climates how similar the weaning weights have been and how little the averages change year to year. I did weigh a few calves - some potential bulls and a few random others. As usual most ran 5-600lbs with most of the heavier ones crossbreds or F1s, there are always a handful of highflyers that top the 600 and usually make bigger frame fat cattle in my grass-fed beef program. Pretty sure there wasn't one that weaned at 60% of it's mothers weight - in fact probably only some underweight young cows/heifers weaned at 50%. With the weight of mature cow we have (the true weight not a BS 1100lb guestimate) a 50% weaning ratio would require over 3lbs of gain a day on the calves after deducting a realistic birthweight. Subconsciously I've been selecting away from the type of cow that can produce that kind of calf as they don't fit my prefered wintering system - I guess you reap what you sow.

I did weigh one outfit that turned in a fantastic 57% weaning weight - a sorry looking first calf heifer that gave too much of herself to the calf and is also open. I noticed that calves off the bull I was complaining about in the spring as a hard calver turned in some noticably heavier calves - I guess that shouldn't surprise me. As usual the biggest factor influencing calf weaning weight was date of birth even within a fairly tight calving period. Which brings me to my question just in case you were wondering where this thinking out loud excercise was going.
I weaned a few "coupons" today too - straightbred heifer's heifer calves and some twins. Born later in the second cycle these little calves are only 370-380lbs at 170 days. What do others do with this category of stock? do you ship them because they are small and were born later, does the fact they were reared poorer influence them achieving their genetic potential? If we are wary of keeping heifer calves that are beefy, heavyweights at weaning should we also discount the tinys because they are on the opposite extreme - or is one or both extreme caused more by mothers milk than genetics at this stage? I'm contemplating starting a small herd of fall calvers and these could be bred to calve at 2.5 to form that group. Any opinions?

Oh joy, after I got done weaning I hear the forecast has changed and we now have a snowfall warning in place to get 6 inches overnight. Oh well my calves maybe aren't strapping 700lb 60%ers but they are ready equipped with luxurious fur coats Smile
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PatB



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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 7:13 am

The selection for selling heifers is bad disposition, pedigree, visual appraisal and birth date. Under performers and twins are usually sold unless twins are both heifers.
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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 7:31 am

Quote :
As usual most ran 5-600lbs with most of the heavier ones crossbreds or F1s, there are always a handful of highflyers that top the 600 and usually make bigger frame fat cattle in my grass-fed beef program. Pretty sure there wasn't one that weaned at 60% of it's mothers weight - in fact probably only some underweight young cows/heifers weaned at 50%. With the weight of mature cow we have (the true weight not a BS 1100lb guestimate) a 50% weaning ratio would require over 3lbs of gain a day on the calves after deducting a realistic birthweight. Subconsciously I've been selecting away from the type of cow that can produce that kind of calf as they don't fit my prefered wintering system - I guess you reap what you sow.

I always wonder about seeking for and getting over 50% of the cow weight at weaning because it would mean, in my feeble and simple mind, that the calves will have to be bigger than the mother at MW and that means the bull was a terminal selection or the cow milked heavier than I can feed and most likely she is open in our minimalist type management. Mike, note that I do not claim the harshest and toughest of environments! I'll gladly leave that claim to fame for anyone else. If heifers are to breed at 15 months old at 65% of their MW, the 50% of the cow WW calves would only have to gain about 3/4 pound per day to achieve that and if they are so prone to higher growth, I do not see how you could hold them down to such a low rate of gain. For any that wean at 60 to 65% of the dam's weight, why you could just go ahead and breed them at 8 months old if %MW is really the trip point for breeding.

Eddie, hanging out with feral cats with a feeble and simple mind
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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 7:47 am

Grassfarmer, I enjoyed your free roaming weaning diary, work is spiritual, how much do you want? DV, in the vicinity of spiritual demands
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Grassfarmer



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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:11 am

patb wrote:
The selection for selling heifers is bad disposition, pedigree, visual appraisal and birth date. Under performers and twins are usually sold unless twins are both heifers.

Well that's maybe a bit of a "pat answer" if you pardon the pun. When you say "The" selection do you mean yours, natures or the Angus mainstreams? How do you identify bad disposition in a 500lb calf being handled as an individual for the first time in it's life? you could time them out the chute and cull the fastest but when I think of bad disposition I think of the cow that wants to eat you when she calves as a 6 year old. I don't know how you would identify that in a fresh weaned calf. I haven't culled a home raised female for disposition in the last decade. If they grow up in my system they don't have that problem.
Pedigree - I don't have animals with pedigrees bad enough to merit culling, hopefully I don't use parent stock that are bad enough to prompt me to sell the offspring based on a name on the pedigree.
Visual appraisal doesn't do much for me - they are all hairy little calves at this stage and I sure can't tell where the stars, the regular work horses and where the underperformers are.
Birthdate is a consideration but as the bulk of our calves are born in two cycles with only a handful in the 3rd there isn't really a lot of meaningfull selection we can do based on this. I'm not about to cull everything born 2nd cycle as inferior to things born first cycle as they tend to switch rather neatly between the two from year to year.
"Under performers" - that was what my question was on. A heifer's heifer calf born late in the second cycle, so weaned earlier than average having gained @1.75lb/day versus an average of @2.2lb/day. Is that bad enough performance to merit culling? Will their mature weight be influenced if they are fed appropriately from now on to overcome their young mother disadvantage? If we select bulls that are late maturing because they breed the better maternal type wouldn't that be true of little heifers too?
I think selling the twins unless they were both female is a foregone conclusion.
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Kent Powell



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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:29 am

You just haven't yet experienced enough "improvement" yet. That great box of chocolate on the outside- surprises on the inside. We sort the calves and crowd them in a tight area to tag the ones we miss or replace what was lost. I walk through them to put in the tags. When they try to jump over or walk on the backs of their herd mates to get away, I haven't noticed any of them growing out of that flightyness. It was the reaction of the Salers and some of the "better" Chianina cattle we used to have. I sure don't need it in an Angus. I had a bull calf butt me and try to take me down when I tagged him. It was noted in the book and forgotten. When working yearling bulls, one turned- snorted and came after me. Same calf. Same reaction to pressure. Not near as cute at three times the size. I am guessing he came from the last generation of great Improvers who spawned the need for the disposition EPD.

Grassfarmer wrote:
patb wrote:
The selection for selling heifers is bad disposition, pedigree, visual appraisal and birth date. Under performers and twins are usually sold unless twins are both heifers.

Well that's maybe a bit of a "pat answer" if you pardon the pun. When you say "The" selection do you mean yours, natures or the Angus mainstreams? How do you identify bad disposition in a 500lb calf being handled as an individual for the first time in it's life? you could time them out the chute and cull the fastest but when I think of bad disposition I think of the cow that wants to eat you when she calves as a 6 year old. I don't know how you would identify that in a fresh weaned calf. I haven't culled a home raised female for disposition in the last decade. If they grow up in my system they don't have that problem.
Pedigree - I don't have animals with pedigrees bad enough to merit culling, hopefully I don't use parent stock that are bad enough to prompt me to sell the offspring based on a name on the pedigree.
Visual appraisal doesn't do much for me - they are all hairy little calves at this stage and I sure can't tell where the stars, the regular work horses and where the underperformers are.
Birthdate is a consideration but as the bulk of our calves are born in two cycles with only a handful in the 3rd there isn't really a lot of meaningfull selection we can do based on this. I'm not about to cull everything born 2nd cycle as inferior to things born first cycle as they tend to switch rather neatly between the two from year to year.
"Under performers" - that was what my question was on. A heifer's heifer calf born late in the second cycle, so weaned earlier than average having gained @1.75lb/day versus an average of @2.2lb/day. Is that bad enough performance to merit culling? Will their mature weight be influenced if they are fed appropriately from now on to overcome their young mother disadvantage? If we select bulls that are late maturing because they breed the better maternal type wouldn't that be true of little heifers too?
I think selling the twins unless they were both female is a foregone conclusion.
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Grassfarmer



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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:00 am

Oh I've seen those types too Kent - when we used a Limmy bull the calves were stone mad, attack you as day olds, as 16 month heifers - really at any age. Saw it in day old Galloways too and they are not an "improved" breed. Generally the Galloways were very trusting and calm if you worked with them but you got the occasional "head case"
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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:14 am

EddieM wrote:

I always wonder about seeking for and getting over 50% of the cow weight at weaning because it would mean, in my feeble and simple mind, that the calves will have to be bigger than the mother at MW and that means the bull was a terminal selection or the cow milked heavier than I can feed and most likely she is open in our minimalist type management.

So explain why then that DeBoo's (Diamond D Angus) that use that weaning 50-60+% of cow body weight along with longevity as some of their key identifiers of their top/better cows-- not had their mature weights and mature frame sizes expanding greatly ?
I definitely would not qualify the majority of their bulls as terminals...
Have they found the "secret formula"?

In perusing Larrys book last night- I found a section where it was advocating somewhat similar to the ND college studies and Kit Pharo's writings-- that it was better to run smaller frame lighter weight more feed efficient cows - even tho you may not get as much individual weaning weight off each cow- it allows the running of more cattle on the same amount of food source -which means more calves and an overall higher weight of weaned off calves in total...

I agree with that -- but I also think with the right genetics you don't have to take that big a cut in individual wean off weights... You don't have to throw the baby out with the bath water...
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Kent Powell



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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:20 am

One downside of my bull grazing was that they would eat out of your hands and let you scratch them in the pasture and had no idea how to deal with the corral and loading in a trailor. Some didn't deal well. Now that I have a little tribe of helpers at my beckoned call, I hope to provide the bulls with a little more environmental culture.


I have even thought about halter breaking. Not being from an old seedstock tradition it is interesting to me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB8Q0VsRk0E
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Kent Powell



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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:28 am

There is a way to produce any result you desire. Be it chance or deliberate, there is a way.



Oldtimer wrote:
EddieM wrote:

I always wonder about seeking for and getting over 50% of the cow weight at weaning because it would mean, in my feeble and simple mind, that the calves will have to be bigger than the mother at MW and that means the bull was a terminal selection or the cow milked heavier than I can feed and most likely she is open in our minimalist type management.

So explain why then that DeBoo's (Diamond D Angus) that use that weaning 50-60+% of cow body weight along with longevity as some of their key identifiers of their top/better cows-- not had their mature weights and mature frame sizes expanding greatly ?
I definitely would not qualify the majority of their bulls as terminals...
Have they found the "secret formula"?

In perusing Larrys book last night- I found a section where it was advocating somewhat similar to the ND college studies and Kit Pharo's writings-- that it was better to run smaller frame lighter weight more feed efficient cows - even tho you may not get as much individual weaning weight off each cow- it allows the running of more cattle on the same amount of food source -which means more calves and an overall higher weight of weaned off calves in total...

I agree with that -- but I also think with the right genetics you don't have to take that big a cut in individual wean off weights... You don't have to throw the baby out with the bath water...
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Tom D
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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:54 am

Oldtimer wrote:

In perusing Larrys book last night-

This is your entire problem in a nutshell.

TD, completely uninterested in those who lack passion.
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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 5:26 pm

Keystone wrote:
There is a way to produce any result you desire. Be it chance or deliberate, there is a way.



Oldtimer wrote:
EddieM wrote:

I always wonder about seeking for and getting over 50% of the cow weight at weaning because it would mean, in my feeble and simple mind, that the calves will have to be bigger than the mother at MW and that means the bull was a terminal selection or the cow milked heavier than I can feed and most likely she is open in our minimalist type management.

So explain why then that DeBoo's (Diamond D Angus) that use that weaning 50-60+% of cow body weight along with longevity as some of their key identifiers of their top/better cows-- not had their mature weights and mature frame sizes expanding greatly ?
I definitely would not qualify the majority of their bulls as terminals...
Have they found the "secret formula"?

In perusing Larrys book last night- I found a section where it was advocating somewhat similar to the ND college studies and Kit Pharo's writings-- that it was better to run smaller frame lighter weight more feed efficient cows - even tho you may not get as much individual weaning weight off each cow- it allows the running of more cattle on the same amount of food source -which means more calves and an overall higher weight of weaned off calves in total...

I agree with that -- but I also think with the right genetics you don't have to take that big a cut in individual wean off weights... You don't have to throw the baby out with the bath water...

I guess I don't understand your answer/comment....Are you trying to say the DeBoo family (and some of those that use the same genetics with similar results) are dishonest- and purposely alters/misreports weights ?


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Kent Powell



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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 5:37 pm

Not at all.

I am saying if you want what they have,--If you want to produce like they produce- you will have to study what they do and how they do it.

A SAV bull will not give me 1000 lb WWts. It is more important to duplicate the management than purchase the genetics.
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EddieM



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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 5:39 pm

Quote :
So explain why then that DeBoo's (Diamond D Angus) that use that weaning 50-60+% of cow body weight along with longevity as some of their key identifiers of their top/better cows-- not had their mature weights and mature frame sizes expanding greatly ?
I definitely would not qualify the majority of their bulls as terminals...
Have they found the "secret formula"?

OT, I never had a chemistry set or an amateur weather station as a kid so nobody ever saw me as a guy who needed a secret formula. Even Colonel Sanders died without telling me how to cook his fried chicken. But I can witch water so not all is lost. And on page 3 of the DDA catalog or there about, you will notice that the WW/cow weight is an adjusted value. Maybe everything that glitters is not gold. Come to think of it if you are east of west and west of east, you should be a lot closer to DDA with the answer than I am. And while you peruse thought catalogs and thought, find out the secret formula that allows Becton to hold down cow weights and increase steer and bull weights and performance. Life is too mysterious for me. I surely do not want to think about a bull calf at SAF with a 1000 pound WW and have to wonder what his mature weight will be.

Eddie, without a chemistry set and only one lone rain gage with the feral cats that like good well water
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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 7:32 pm

For whatever it is worth here is an experience I have. I had an AI heifer born first week of September in 2005. September is my typical start of calving time and it extends til mid November (if it is convenient to get the bulls out at that time). I bred this heifer to her paternal 1/2 brother. She gave me a heifer on 11/11/2007. I was not happy because I enjoy looking at pedigrees and I thought I had something with that AI bull and figured a double dose of him would be even better and here the calf is born last week of calving and typically my November calves are puds. I figured the cow would be open at preg check in the Spring but she was not and actually moved up 2 weeks and raised this little heifer calf that weaned off at actual 350 pounds on 5/7/08. I kept all the heifer calves that year as I typically do (partly because I never seem to get much money for bottom end small calves at the yard) and they got grass and hand fed some. The whole crop was exposed to a bull and I figured there would be no way that heifer would get bred (she likely did not weigh 600 pounds at 1 year old, 1 month from being exposed to the bull) and that I could then breed her in spring and sell her as a bred heifer to calve at 2 1/2 years. Well she got bred much to my shock and actually calved 9/22 (just a shade over 22 months of age). Her Dam has moved up each year and at 6 years of age calved first week of September this year and her daughter calved 2nd week of September. Dam's calf last year was the heaviest at weaning and the little heifer I thought was not worth selling and probably would not find a way to stay in the herd has calves weaning in the bottom end of average for the heard now. She has found a way to get it done when some others have found a way to screw up. I don't know why. Maybe it is the AI genes but that semen was so valuable it was given to me. Very Happy I don't necessarily recommend doing things this way but if you don't mind risk to try something that you think you might WANT to work then go for it. Every heifer was retained this past year, some look dinkish. Bulls get turned out with them in 2 weeks. They have had the least processed feed of any group of heifers I have raised in my time. They have been blessed with record rainfalls this year and has allowed me to do that (I hope). We will see if history repeats itself in a positive way for me again. Not sure if I have answered anything for you, but take risks as that is the only way to really learn and receive the greatest return.
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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:32 pm

Quote :
it was better to run smaller frame lighter weight more feed efficient cows


where has LL or science said that lighter weight, smaller frame cows are more feed efficient?
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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sat Nov 12, 2011 9:04 pm

I think that selecting cows that wean a high percentage of their body weight and expecting to be able to continue that on with their offspring in the absence of close breeding is similar to the concept of a perpetual motion machine or getting something for nothing or 99% of the content of the stockman grassfarmer.

At the best it seems to me, that it is completely accidental sometimes, a nicking, so to speak between sire and dam or heterosis or more likely a great feed year, or temperatures ideally suited to that cow. With gene segregation and the like, the odds of repeating that in the daughters is akin to that of winning the lottery or of Joe, not wearing cowboy boots.

I know that you can change eye color in humans fairly easily, coat color in beef cattle fairly easily, it seems like udders can be improved or degraded fairly easily, tail set can certainly be changed. But environment plays such a huge role in performance compared to genetics that when a herd starts to talk about weaning large calves with small cows and the top and bottom of their pedigrees are night and day, I get a little suspicious. Especially if I was kidding myself in to thinking that if I buy a son of that cow, the same thing would begin to work instantly for me.

I think on such a major project, those genes would have to be very highly concentrated.

Of course my breeding philosophy is basically that when you see something that you think is alright, to keep on breeding that way until they all began to look like that. Maybe too simple, but anything more, makes my head hurt.
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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sun Nov 13, 2011 9:33 am

Running them thru the shoot and retagging them can effect their disposition for quite awhile, if not permanently.


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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sun Nov 13, 2011 9:34 am

Especially if you are shooting at them.
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Bob H



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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:28 pm

My experiance with weaning weights and less cow (less input costs using 2.8 times body weight to find how much the cow consumes or 3 lbs of feed per hunderdweight of cow) comes directly from the idea of fruit and seedlless fruit. We move one set of cows every year at the same time and weigh all of the cattle to make sure that we fill the trucks to 50000 lbs to make the freight right. When we started we had a cross-bred cow herd that weighed 1375 and weaned 600 lb steer calves and 575 heifer calves they were mostly charlios angus x . Flash forward 14 years we now have a cow herd that weighs 1175 and weans all of the crossbred calves at 600 lbs. The staightbred Shoshone male calves wean at 600 lbs and the Staight bred Shosone heifer calves weigh 550 lbs. This set of cows are now predomintly Shoshone with some older cows being from all over. As you can tell we went from about 43% of body weight to 51% if you use just seedless fruit and not the staight angus heifers in the mix. The Shoshone heifer calfs will only be sold by the head and not on weight if sold at all. If you also notice our cull cow weights have decreased, for every action there is a reaction.

Ian about the lighter kind of cattle we always run them over and sell the cows that they are out of as we pair all cattle in fall to see where the old girls are at and if they are worthy of wintering. What we have found so far with the Shoshone cattle is that we sell about 1% for some kind problem. Before we started this program it was not unuasal to cull 5 % for some problem.



Bob H some thoughts from the conclusion of weaning season.
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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sun Nov 13, 2011 1:19 pm

MKeeney wrote:
Quote :
it was better to run smaller frame lighter weight more feed efficient cows


where has LL or science said that lighter weight, smaller frame cows are more feed efficient?

Mike all the book of Larrys talks about efficient cattle- and moderation...All the preachings of Mike Keeney for years (that I perceived much of came from Larry) talked of moderation (In fact I remember a web page of a stick man screaming about moderation)...
Larrys writings talk of getting more profit by running cows that raise 400-500 lb calves instead of those that raise calves that weigh 600-640lbs-- and doing so by being able to run a larger number of efficient cows in the same space on the same feed source....This is much the same as what the ND University studies indicate- with running more 1200lb feed efficient cattle being less input cost/more profitable than the bigger frame 1500-1800 lb cattle (that thru experience I know can eat twice as much hay in a tough winter)....Now I hope you and Larry aren't suggesting you are going to be able to get that same efficiency running saddlehorse tall 1500-1800 lb cows ?

One of the things I perceive that you and Larry use in measuring efficiency is longevity (old cows producing)-- which to me is one of the lesser important issues since I run cattle like the majority of the commercial folks in the area do- and few of them worry about that issue...Most cull their cows around age 12... Some mouth their cows- culling broken mouths....I'm happy if they just keep breeding back and to get 10 or 11 calves out of a cow...
This comes about because 1) in this short grass country where cows have to get down to the ground (made up of sand and gravel) to find grass- most cows by 10 are broken mouths (some by 5-6)...2) Most consider the culls as part of the cattle income and would rather sell when culls are still in shape to bring a good price- and not wait til they are shelly old crackers you can't hardly give away..3) With the tough winters we get- the older cows can really drop shape fast in a tough winter- and most don't want to have to babysit to get them thru til spring...

Quote :
Flash forward 14 years we now have a cow herd that weighs 1175 and weans all of the crossbred calves at 600 lbs. The staightbred Shoshone male calves wean at 600 lbs and the Staight bred Shosone heifer calves weigh 550 lbs. This set of cows are now predomintly Shoshone with some older cows being from all over. As you can tell we went from about 43% of body weight to 51% if you use just seedless fruit and not the staight angus heifers in the mix.

Bob H-- this is along the same line as we've seen since we've switched to more efficient cattle that have genetics to survive/thrive on grass/hay than the corncrib and creepfeeder..
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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sun Nov 13, 2011 1:28 pm

OT,
So dangerous to suggest...so let`s spell it out...
the efficiency is in the system, not in the individual...
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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sun Nov 13, 2011 1:41 pm

MKeeney wrote:
OT,
So dangerous to suggest...so let`s spell it out...
the efficiency is in the system, not in the individual...

AMEN-- but if you get an individual that over excels (1100 lb cow that consistently weans off 60% of their body weight) do you just cull them- or do you try to work that into the system ?...
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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:47 pm

So just to give this some context what age is your average calf at weaning BobH and OT?
Last year my cow's calves weighed 539lb on males and 499lbs on females at just under 180 days.

OT do you actually have cow weights on your herd or are they estimates?
I'm calling BS on your assertion that your move to cattle with "genetics to survive/thrive on hay/grass" causes their weaning weights to be a higher % of their dams weight. It would seem obvious to me that a mini dairy cow type would have the best chance of a high weaning % and that kind sure don't do well on a "survival on grass system". I've had that kind and they always exit early due to being open under my conditions.



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Bob H



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PostSubject: Re: Weaning day thoughts   Sun Nov 13, 2011 3:54 pm

Iain our first calf was born on March 5 2011 and we weaned those calves on Nov 8 and 9. They were born on green grass and were run in Hells Canyon at Brownlee Id. it is steep canyon country, it has allot of micro-climates within the 36000 acres in which we run 350 pairs. If anyone has any questions please ask so that we all may share and learn. Bob H
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Weaning day thoughts
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