Heifer growing too fast?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Mark T, Jan 8, 2007.

  1. Mark T

    Mark T Well-Known Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Central Virginia
    Connie was born on October 21. She is an Ayrshire/Angus cross.

    I haven't milked her Ayrshire mother this time around so she is getting all the milk. Her mother produced 4 gallons a day last lactation.

    The neighboring beef farmer has been astounded by her size; she is about the same size as some of his July calves. I weight-taped my herd yesterday and she was 277 lbs at 2 and a half months of age. Her mother isn't all that large - she is 1040 lbs (but she is on the thin side of body condition - she'd probably be 1150 if well-fleshed).

    Her last calf, full-blood Ayrshire, was 708 lbs when we butchered him at 10 months.

    We didn't worry about the previous calf's growth because he was destined for the freezer. But I have read that it is bad for a heifer to get too big too fast because they put fat deposits down in their udder which compromises their milking ability.

    Scouring has never been a problem, although I have heard that unlimited milk access can cause that.

    If people think this growth rate is a problem, I'm not sure what I would do about it. I have a new (human) baby coming and don't want to be in a milking routine this Spring, so am unlikely to start taking the milk for us. I don't really want to wean her either as it would necessitate grain feeding (calves don't develop their rumen for a few months).

  2. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

    Oct 6, 2005
    If it is growth and not fat....its just fine. She *should* grow faster than pure beef calves on beef cows because she has the genetics to be large plus she is getting all the milk she can drink and your dairy cow sure better be giving more than those beef cows! We had a pure Jersey calf who was 350 lbs at three months of age. My friend saw him and asked if he was a simmental.... :rolleyes: But he was on his Jersey mama and had all the milk he could ever want. He was tall, big and meaty.
    As long as she is not excessively *fat*, you shouldn't have any problems. Its when they start putting on fat that it gets deposited in the udder and then they may never have the milk production that they could have.

  3. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    Not to worry. The cow will give a little less as time goes on and the calf can use more. By the time the calf is ready to breed she will be past the baby fat, and growing on whatever you give her. Unless you over feed her she should be shaped up ok.
  4. KSALguy

    KSALguy Lost in the Wiregrass Supporter

    Feb 14, 2006
    you have the Hybred viggor genetics going for you, plus the fact that one side is BEEF and one side is DAIRY, so your going to have BIG animal, on top of that the mother is the Dairy so she is getting GOOD grocerys any time she wants some, so she is going to get big fast but its a good big fast.
  5. MeanDean

    MeanDean that geeky admin guy

    Apr 16, 2002
    the Peak of good living
    First let me say, I'm no bovine expert, but for some stupid reason I did remembr a hyperlink to Penn State's Dairy and Animal Sciences page on Heifers ...

    ... which you will probably find far more useful than I, though I am intrigued by the whole geekiness behind an article on the site (in PDF format) entitled "Monitoring Growth in Dairy Heifers."

    Your mileage and milk production may vary.
  6. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

    Nov 26, 2004
    New Zealand
    Your little heifer will not be growing "too fast" but she will be doing well and that's what you want. The problem of fat deposits usually arises after weaning when they are given unrestricted access to feed.

    The fact that your cow can produce 4 gallons of milk doesn't mean that the calf will be drinking that much; it will be doing well if it takes half of that in the course of the day. Without you taking milk from her, your cow will eventually drop her production so that it is only meeting the needs of the calf.

    A calf on a cow rarely scours. Because they can feed ad lib, they duck in and out taking a small amount at a time which is what they are designed to be able to cope with. The trouble with scouring calves comes with bottle feds that either have a change in milk or are given too much at one time.

    My suggestion would be for you to concentrate on your coming baby and let the cow mum concentrate on hers :)