Calving ease, comparing cows and women....

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by DJ in WA, Nov 26, 2005.

  1. DJ in WA

    DJ in WA Well-Known Member Supporter

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    For my Jersey/Lowline angus cross cow, I've been wondering how big a bull I could breed her to. She's smaller (45 inches at the pin), but supposedly the Jersey in her favors easier calving? I was planning to breed to Lowline angus, but was wondering since semen is more available, if a standard angus rated for calving ease would be okay for what will be her third calf. I don't know if there are different sizes of angus amongst the standard sizes.

    Now for the second part. (I'd better be careful, as my wife doesn't always appreciate me comparing her to cows)

    It seems cattlemen worry alot about calving ease. I started wondering why the same doesn't apply to humans. I see 5 foot tall women married to 6-5 men who are huge. Are you ladies ever warned about marrying big guys and having birthing problems? What's the difference between this and cattle?
     
  2. SmokedCow

    SmokedCow Well-Known Member

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    I think it all depends on the bull to be honest. We have had trouble in the past with an angus bull and a maine cow..Size and age, weight all make a differance too...If you can talk to an angus producer and see what he thinks about a certain angus bull, ask about calving ease...they have heifer bulls and then cow bulls...we have problems with cow bulls on a 2nd or 3rd time calver...I think its the bull....And then the pasrt about women and men...I dont think we think about that..it do you love this person enought to spend your life with them..but..you make a good point...i havnt ever thought about it...You hear guys saying a woman has child bearing hips..so maybe so!
    AJ
     

  3. chamoisee

    chamoisee Well-Known Member

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    I don't know much about cattle, except that in their semen catalogs, they seem to place a lot of emphasis on low birthweight and rapid gain, which seems sensible. That is what I woudl use if it were me.

    In dairy goats, they don't tell us that stuff. There are normal sized (not huge) bucks that are known by an very few people to throw HUGE offspring, big enough to injure the doe, which have semen offerred for sale and there is no note or warning about it!

    I also wonder that about women, and I also tend to observe people's 'conformation' as I watch them walk around. Bad hips, funny gait related to leg or foot faults, narrow facial features, that sort of thing... :oops: :p My midwife used to say that a woman only grows as big a baby as she can birth, but that isn't necessarily what I've seen. I think they say that sort of thing to reassure us...because I knew of one gal (who was large and big boned) whose babies by her husband broke the county record for size, and it was really hard on her. After him, she had another baby with a different dad, it was average sized and the pregnancy was a LOT easier for her.
     
  4. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well.....everytime I complain about the size of my hips, my Dad says I shouldn't complain since I should have easy births. I tell him yeah, but I got to catch a good guy first and they all seem to prefer the slender-built ladies. :p Whats a girl to do?? :shrug:
     
  5. genebo

    genebo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    When they talk about calving ease bulls, they mean bulls that are predicted to sire small calves. Some people extend this to also mean bulls that sire calves with small heads.

    Records are kept on registered Angus, and probably other beef breeds. Bulls that are predicted to throw easy bearing calves are highly sought after.

    The problem came about because selective breeding brought the size of the animals up to the point that the cows are having difficulty calving. It makes breeding todays beef cattle risky.

    Some people favor using a Dexter or longhorn bull to breed first time heifers, because these bulls produce very small calves. After the first calf, the cow is "conditioned" to have easier births. They might breed the heifer a little younger with one of these bulls. Over the bearing life of the cow, the claim is made that you'll get an extra calf from this practice, so the first calf, though smaller, won't be a very big loss.

    Actually, having a smaller calf at weaning isn't as big a loss as you might think. The lower weight calves seem to bring higher prices per pound, making up some of the difference.

    The cow herself contributes to the size of the calf, also. Records aren't kept as well on "calving ease" cows. The cow can be genetically disposed to produce larger or smaller calves, and the type and amount of feed can influence the size of the calf.

    Furthermore, a cow can have "baby bearing" hips and be better able to deliver a large calf. Cows with smaller hips need to be serviced by a calving ease bull to protect their health.

    This is a link to the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service's article on how to select a bull for easy calving:

    http://www.ext.vt.edu/news/periodicals/livestock/aps-00_02/aps-0184.html

    Genebo
    Paradise Farm
     
  6. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Dairy farmers around here generally breed their first-freshening heifers to a Jersey bull for the calving ease. And Angus were popular for that as well. I was talking to an old farmer the other day and he said they had almost stopped using Angus bulls for calving ease because the newer Angus type threw much larger calves than the old type. I personally would much rather have a small calf who has an easy birth and gets on the go quickly, than a large calf at birth who is slow to get on the go and in the winter may freeze before getting his colostrum. And of course its much easier on the cow. We do breed our cows for wide hips for calving ease. We have Jersey's and I try to steer clear of anything on the narrow side.
     
  7. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    When younger son was dating his now-wife, I told him she had good childbearing structure. She was a college athlete, and she kept fit and trim through the pregnancy. At nine months, you would have thought she was four months pregnant. Popped a healthy 7 pounder out in four hours of labor.

    C-section rate is up in humans. Maybe people should think about it? Had a college friend who told her offspring not to date anyone they didn't think was a good potential parent. Maybe conformation was one of the criteria?
     
  8. DJ in WA

    DJ in WA Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Genebo, I read the article, and that helped get me educated. I’ve poked around the internet and found supposedly lower birthweight EPD angus bulls. I like angus so I don’t have to dehorn.

    Of course, the safest answer would be to breed back to a lowline angus, but since she’s half standard jersey, seems that would be too easy for her, and I’d lose potential beef. So what think you of the following logic?

    My heifer’s calf, out of a ‘miniature’ hereford bull comparable in size to her (46 inches tall and very muscular), was 43 pounds (heifer calf). This bull was much bigger than lowline bulls I see advertised. She calved at 21 months and had no problems – calf found running around 2 hours after mother was last seen.

    She’s now bred to a small Jersey bull. The breeding I’m thinking forward to will be her third calf. So, I’m assuming she could handle a much bigger calf by then.

    One angus bull on the net says birthweight EPD is minus 4, so his calves are 4 pounds lighter than the average angus calf. So around 70 pound calves? Now if my cow contributes half toward the size of the calf, I assume it would be down to around 55 to 60 pounds. Seems like she could handle this okay being her third calf and being half Jersey. Any thoughts?

    Being a one cow man, it’s not the end of the world if I need to go smaller. For the small operator not experienced in difficult births, would just as soon avoid problems, but if the risk is quite small, would just as soon have a bigger calf.
     
  9. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Calving ease doesn't always mean it will be a small calf. An AI tech was telling me that he has seen some big calves from "calving ease" bulls. I think it can depend on the dams genetics, does she have a history of calving ease in her genes? First calf heifers as a rule you breed to calving ease bulls, some breed to whatever (which I think is foolish).


    As far as women go? I know of someone who had to have a C-Section for each birth, and her daughter had to have a C-Section for both of her births. So it seems to be inherited from her mothers side, she has a younger daughter and will she have to have a C-Section when that time comes in her later years? My cousins wife is tiny, she has had natural child birth. Probably depends on the cervix, if that muscle can stretch far enough to pass a kid. If not, then C-Section time! But with cows, I have noticed the hip width to play a role in calving.


    Jeff
     
  10. Mama C

    Mama C Well-Known Member

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    This is true in humans as well,MIL was 5'2 FIL average, she had 10lb babies
    My Mom,5'2 Dad 6'5 7lb babies.
    Me 5'7 Dh average, 9.5lb and 9.11lb babies
    I figure, Dh contributed the weight to our babies, but I was the reason they were 23in at birth. :eek:
    I would tend to agree with the practice of a small throwing bull for the first time for obvious reasons, my first took me 23hrs to have, I was wishing for a nice 7lb baby by then.
    My second at 9.11lb took 2hrs!

    Sorry I put so much of me in here, just never had a cow have a problem.
    Our one cow is so easy that I was watching her from the house...no calf yet...look again, no calf.......load the washer, look again... there is another cow in the pen! What?!! go out to see, and it is the biggest calf I have ever seen, she just dropped him. What a girl!! (it was her 4th)
     
  11. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    With goats it really does too. The only does I have had "big kid" problems with were two does who were quite narrow.
     
  12. unioncreek

    unioncreek Well-Known Member Supporter

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    DJ,

    Check with your local AI tech and see if you can get some Wagyu semen. That's what I breed my heifers to and they have 50 - 60 pound calves.

    Bobg
     
  13. genebo

    genebo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    DJ in WA,

    If I only had one cow, I'd be very careful about who I bred her to. A bad breeding could cost you 100% of your herd.

    I don't know the value of a large calf. I help my neighbor with his Angus herd. His calves vary a lot in birth weight, but by 6 months, you can't tell them apart. I think someone with 100 calves would find a few pounds variation significant, but someone with a single calf wouldn't.

    I'd still prefer the smaller calf.

    Check this site for more on size:

    http://www.pharocattle.com/philosophies.htm

    Genebo
    Paradise Farm