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 Calving heifers

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chocolate cow

Posts : 95
Join date : 2010-09-24
Location : Kansas

PostSubject: Calving heifers   Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:37 pm

First: here's my disclaimer..if this has been discussed I missed it so lets do it again,

I've always bred my heifers to calve ahead of the mature cow herd. That means my heifers calve in January & a little into Feb. My veterinarian says you can breed them to calve at the same time as the cow herd and still have a high percentage of breed backs because the heifer won't have a big early born calf pulling her down. I, following conventional wisdom, thought that a heifer took about 90 days to get back into condition to cycle again after her first calving which is why I bred them for an earlier calving period.

What say you?
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Posts : 660
Join date : 2010-09-27
Location : Belmont, Manitoba, Canada

PostSubject: Re: Calving heifers   Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:21 pm

There is a third option too that I've heard some here use - breed the heifers to calve after your cows thereby benefitting from some extra age on the heifers and getting better/faster conception as a result.
I guess it depends on your circumstances, we always bred heifers to calf 6-8 weeks ahead of cows so that we could pay more attention to them at calving time and I suppose a bit of giving them extra time to cycle before breeding back too. Last 3 years or so we have calved at the same time as the cows, I generally don't worry about calving heifers nowadays as long as I don't use a big dumb untried bull Embarassed We have never had many breedback problems under our conditions here or in Scotland - maybe more of an issue in drier, more arid areas?
With our banked grass calving system we calve the cows on that but the feed isn't high enough quality for first calf heifers so we always feed them right through to green grass. Calving them later reduces the time they are on dry feed post calving which I think is good because I find they go stale if we calve them too far ahead of green grass. So from that aspect I prefer calving them same time as the cows - downside is that we have had more dink calves since calving later although we were maybe going that way anyway with developing the heifers slower. The extra age used to make the heifers calves weaning weights more comparable to the cows calves. Another downside is if a heifer calves late second cycle she is a pretty late calver in my overall herd. Calving late second cycle when you start 6-8 weeks earlier than the cow herd isn't so bad.
Swings and roundabouts I guess, whatever works for your situation.
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Posts : 33
Join date : 2010-10-04

PostSubject: Re: Calving heifers   Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:06 pm

Hopefully Dennis will add to this thread as his "heifer school" philosophy may be a good alternative. The "heifer school" idea seems like a good alternative in my situation and I have a spring longhorn bull calf out of a longhorn heifer that I like that I kept as a bull to breed to heifers. Unlike Dennis, for better or worse, I did dehorn my young bull. I am looking forward to using him on the fall heifers this coming fall and will breed them at the same time as the cows.

I do know from an earlier experiment/retrospective observation involving angus heifer embryo recipients in our environment. The heifers that took Jersey embryos the first time also took angus embryos on time for their second calf. The ones that took angus embryos the first time did not settle to an embryo the next time, but most bred back to the bull. The heifers that took Jersey embryos the first time and angus embryos the second time did not take a 3rd embryo, but did settle back to the bull. Granted the sample size was small and the angus embryos from the time were paternal in type and did grow well on the heifers, but as often mentioned here, there was a price to be paid.
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Dylan Biggs

Posts : 322
Join date : 2011-03-07

PostSubject: Re: Calving heifers   Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:37 pm

We have been range calving our heifers on the same schedule as our cows for over 15 years now with no breed back problems.

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PostSubject: Re: Calving heifers   Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:46 am

Ditto RV and Dylan.
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Posts : 270
Join date : 2010-10-04
Location : Northeast Montana

PostSubject: Re: Calving heifers   Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:31 pm

Dylan Biggs wrote:
We have been range calving our heifers on the same schedule as our cows for over 15 years now with no breed back problems.

Same here... The only time I breed heifers early is when I have AIed a few-- and that is only because my neighbor who does my AIing anymore breeds early- and wants to synchronize them all (his and ours) at the same time... And since he charges nothing- I go along with him...
No breedback problems with any of them...
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PostSubject: Re: Calving heifers   Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:14 pm

Our heifers get a bull the same day as the cows. They seem to do better, as a percentage, but I suspect it is mainly due to having more shade in their pasture and water to stand in all summer when it is hot.
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