Keeney`s Corner

A current and reflective discussion of cattle breeding from outside the registered mainstream
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Posts : 660
Join date : 2010-09-27
Location : Belmont, Manitoba, Canada

PostSubject: Re: Productivity   Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:41 pm

flyingS wrote:
Research shows that a heifer does not need to be over 50-55% of her mature weight at breeding.

What did this research define as successful? to get her pregnant as a heifer?, re-bred as a calved heifer?, still in the herd as a 6 year old or a 10 year old?

RobertMac wrote:
This year I'm changing by separating the heifers so they don't have to compete with the cows for hay and I can supplement them If needed. Sometimes the obvious goes right over my head, but I believe I was losing to many good genetics by being TOO hardon my heifers.

That's a similar conclusion I'm coming to RobertMac - I bought into too much of the Pharo nonsense about treating the heifers rough to make them somehow better or more efficient.

Tom wrote:

I think most yearling heifers can be bred at 50 - 55% of mature weight, but I think most of them still have to weigh 85 - 90% of there mature weight at calving to rebreed successfully. They have to gain the weight at some point.

I think you are right to a degree but the specifics of mature body weight % needed at first calving will vary with environment. We normally get over 18 inches of summer precip. so I'm guessing cows here will have an easier time regaining weight than in your dry country. Ours don't have to walk as far either. I have bought a number of straight Angus cows over the years and always find they grow out to their predetermined genetic potential. If they are 1150lbs as 2/3/4th calvers they can be over 1400lbs by 8 or 10 years old. Maybe that's peculiar to my environment? but it doesn't seem so critical here for them to reach mature weight as second calvers.
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Join date : 2010-10-09

PostSubject: Re: Productivity   Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:29 pm

Tom wrote:
We can't run a heifer for $100 dollars per year. It costs around $180 from when they are weaned in March till the end of the year for the yearlings. The two year olds cost $240 including breeding to run for a year. This includes pasture, supplement, breeding, vet, interest. If I look back at last years spreadsheet for what it costs to bring a heifer in based on the value of the heifer calf at weaning minus the value of opens when they are bred to calved at 3 it cost us $750 to get the bred 3 year old. I figured the heifer calves were only worth $400. At this time if prices hold the heifer calves could be worth $530 ,and it raises our cost to get a bred 3 year old to $1,000.

If we bred to calve at two. We would probably have $225 with a better feed between weaning and good grass and $30 breeding cost. 70% would probably breed in 30 days. The 2 year old winter would probably cost an extra $220 for feed and labor. This week at the local auction 380 pound steer and heifer calves averaged $520 per head and we would probably wean 90%. Open heiferetts were $70 to $80/cwt. and we might have 20% open with the better feed through the winter. When I add it all up we could get a bred back 3 year old for $750. We used to have 30% to 40% open when we wintered them with the cows. The problem is they need to gain 250 pounds from preg test time in the fall till calving in June and they will not do it on the range with the cows. We usually didn't do too bad on the open 2 year olds, we would put the bulls with them in May and sell them as early calvers, from what we heard they made good cows for people.

Other than some small fields along a creek at head quarters, where we usually winter calves we buy to run as yearlings, and hold our home raised calves after weaning, we only have two winter pastures. one 20 sections and the other is only 9 sections. We use those in a rotation so really there is only one. It is certainly simpler to turn the yearling heifers and two year olds out and let them winter with the cows.

You keep some good records Tom and have the costs figured out. Out of interest do you have some weights to help me visualize? What would your mature cow weight be? - what weight would the yearling heifer be at preg. checking when you say she has 250lbs to gain before calving? How would the weaning weights of the 2 year old versus 3 year old heifers compare?
The weight thing interests me just now because I am sitting on the smallest, lightest bred heifers I've ever had this year - due in large part to being suckered into the BS about "treating your heifers tough" to somehow make them more efficient. My heifers won't be two until late April/May and that is when they will calve also. They are mostly in the 850-950lb range with the top end over 1000lb. Genetically I reckon these will mature at 1300lbs+ though so we are quite aways behind where they should be in my opinion. It'll be a delicate balance feeding them this winter to keep growing without putting to much weight on the calves. [/quot

The cow weights fluctuate throughout the year quite a bit. On average the mature cows are probably 1125 pounds in July, by March they are probably down to 1000 pounds. Other than a few purchased cows hardly any are much over 1200 pounds in good shape. The cows would probably be bigger on a better place. We have fed yearlings out in the past. The steers finished at around 1230, and the heifers were 1150 at 70 to 80% choice and 70% yeild grade 1 & 2. So they weren't exactly puds. Although we may have few now from the Anchor influence. I think they would finish kind of light as calf feds though.

Yearling heifers at preg check early Nov. average 725 pounds based on the weights of the open ones in the past. They probably weigh about as much in September as they do in November. Before we went to calving 3 year olds, we were only getting them to probably 850 at calving in June, but I think if they weighed 950 they would raise bigger calves and breed back ok. The 2 year olds probably weaned 350 pound calves at 7 months. The first calf 3 year olds wean a 475 pound calf at 9 months. We would have to feed grain or byproducts, or buy really good hay to put 250 pounds on before June. The problem here with most energy feeds, is shipping costs as much as the feed. Another option could be to send them 50 miles and have them wintered on a farm. The problem is everything has a cost. The question is, does the first calf three year old make enough better cow to justify letting her run the extra year. Last year I would have said yes, with higher calf prices I'm not so sure.

The June calving hasn't worked as great as I thought it would, but I wouldn't go back to March calving either. From what I read, it sounded like if you got in sinc with nature you could treat heifers like cows and be fine, but we spent several years trying to make it work, and no progress seemed to be made. I suppose if we had a longer period of time cattle gained weight it might work better. Maybe just need smaller cows. But, if you think about it I am pretty sure bison and elk don't calve at 2.
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