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When I was doing my daily cattle move this evening, I noticed my 11 month old Ayrshire heifer trying to ride a couple of the steers. This sounded like what I had read about heat behavior so I checked and she does have a bit of clear mucus leaking from her vagina. I believe this confirms that she is in heat.

Am I right? Is there another explanation?

I understand that you should breed a dairy cow at around 15 months so they calve near their second birthday, but I don't remember reading much about when they begin to have heat. Is she coming into heat too early? If it matters, the weight tape says she is 500 pounds.
 

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You are right on the money. Riding each other is the simple way to tell they are in heat. It's not unusual for some breeds to start ovulating by the time they are a year old. Making sure they don't get exposed to a bull is very important. 2 years is plenty young to be calving. They are still growing then and having a calf can be difficult for them, plus it seems to retard their growth.
 

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Riding *is* a sign they're coming in heat. 15 months isn't unusual -- but would be advisable to wait til 18 months to breed...add nine months and she'll be just over 2 at first freshening. She'll need *good* nutrition but can maintain growth and pregnancy...but I'd sure wait a few more months before breeding. If you're going to AI be writing down the days she's in...recording what's normal for her. It'll help when it does come breeding time. If you're breeding with a bull it'll still help you track when she's really ready to breed. Usually the 'rider' is coming in...the one standing is *in*. But there can be exceptions...cows don't read books of what they're supposed to do. :haha:
 

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I have a young Angus heifer (16 mos) who shares pasture with our upcoming freezer steer. We haven't noticed any signals that she's coming into heat and if I remember from my last breeding cow, the first heat is hard to detect. Since my detection mechanism (the steer) is going to be going freeze-wrapped before Winter, is there any way to induce heat in the heifer? I thought I'd heard somewhere that they can be given a shot to motivate this. Any thoughts or experience in this matter would be appreciated since my wife feels we should just let 'Nature run its course'. I'd just hate to have her all alone next Summer! (The heifer - that is! :haha: )
 

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Allan Mistler said:
I have a young Angus heifer (16 mos) who shares pasture with our upcoming freezer steer. We haven't noticed any signals that she's coming into heat and if I remember from my last breeding cow, the first heat is hard to detect. Since my detection mechanism (the steer) is going to be going freeze-wrapped before Winter, is there any way to induce heat in the heifer? I thought I'd heard somewhere that they can be given a shot to motivate this. Any thoughts or experience in this matter would be appreciated since my wife feels we should just let 'Nature run its course'. I'd just hate to have her all alone next Summer! (The heifer - that is! :haha: )
I don't know of anything that will bring in a heifer to ovulate before she has actually started. Most shots etc. will cause the heifer to cycle if she has already started cycling. At least that is my understanding. I have a bull so this is not a problem for me (I have not kept up on it).

At 16 months, your heifer is probably cycling already ( a good vet can palpate and tell you if she has started ovulating already). I would watch her for signs of heat in the early morning or evening. Watching when you are feeding is not a good time. With our bull, I only see a few actual breedings. Most of our cows are bred without my seeing any activity. Out of 20 cows, I only know the due dates of about 5 usually. BTW my experience is that a steer does not always seem interested in a cow in heat. I have raised heifers with steers before and found the heifers will be more interested in mounting each other etc. than the steers. Not always the case, but with only one steer and one heifer you may have to be extra diligent in watching for signs of heat. My recommendation would be to rely on the shots rather than watching for signs (especially in your case with only one heifer). Check with your vet or perhaps a farm supply store (like Tractor Supply), or an online farm supply for the shots etc.

BTW the shots are normally used for timing purposes. You give a shot (some use an ear implant or some combination) and then on a timed day (see the meds inserts etc.) you have the heifer bred. Pretty easy really. You can arrange to have a bull available or an AI tech come out and then give the shot or implant for the arranged timing.
 
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