How old is too old?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by MRSSTEAK, May 25, 2005.

  1. MRSSTEAK

    MRSSTEAK Well-Known Member

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    I have a cow (Black Angus) that has had 6 calves in her life. I've had her for 7 years. She is 9 years old. I was wondering about how many years can a cow keep calving before problems arise? She is due to calve in the next couple of weeks and I've noticed she is slowing down quite a bit. Walks a lot slower, almost like she's in pain. (but I don't believe she is) Has a harder time getting up from a laying down position, has to rock back and forth a few times before she gets her ooomph to get up. These are all signs I've never seen with her in the past. Is she getting too old? I hate to cull her because she's a GREAT calver and a great mama. But then again, I don't want her to have problems due to her age. Is this normal behavior for an aging cow?
     
  2. NRS Farm

    NRS Farm Well-Known Member

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    I have a cow that is around 15 years old.This year is the first I noticed she is having problems getting around. Last winter I first noticed. This will be her last calf. Until this past winter, I did not see any differences in her or the other cows...although her calves were a little lighterweight the past 2 years than normal for her. I have several other cows 10 or so years old and have not seen any changes in them yet.
     

  3. tatanka

    tatanka Well-Known Member

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    What kind of condition is this cow in? Could she be over conditioned? Sometimes an overconditoned cow bred or not has the kind of trouble you are describing. A well cared for cow can produce a calf well up into her teens. Show cattle ( heifers and cows that are over fed in order to get show quality) will often have this problem. The fat starts to build internally first around the organs before you can see it on the outside. By the time you see rounder figures on the outside the cow is usually over weight. I would never cull a cow that produces a good calf every year because she might be a little slow. If you think she is overconditioned you can leave the calf on her longer to suck her down a little more than usual, however you don't want to go to the other extreme and get her undercondtioned because then she will start to miss on you. Hope this helps.

    Marla
     
  4. Suzanne

    Suzanne Well-Known Member

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    Our Jersey cow turned 13 this year, and has just started to slow down some, due to a hoof problem I'm working on. I agree overconditioning is one of the worse things for them! Hard on calving, hooves, everything............We will continue to breed her until she does not breed anymore! She is an outstanding cow for throwing beautiful heifers, and she will foster any calf, so think we will use her from now on as a nurse cow. She was our first milk cow, so she deserves to stay here the rest of her life. So don't give up on your cow not continuing to breed, I asked our vet and he said he knows of a 24 year old cow. :)
     
  5. Shelly

    Shelly Member

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    I agree with the others, she's not really very old at all. Really just past her prime. In addition to the condition issue, is she calving later in the year this year - is it warmer or more humid than usual?

    Don't freak out, but I had a 9 year old cow do this to me last year, just like you describe. She wasn't fat but she sure was making an effort to get up and down and took her time from here to there - well, she was carrying around an extra load, she had twins!
     
  6. MRSSTEAK

    MRSSTEAK Well-Known Member

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    Well, she finally calved 3 days ago, and now I understand why she was having so much trouble getting around. She threw a calf that is a little over 100 pounds! She did great and no problems, but the poor little calf is having a hard time getting around. It's almost like his front feet aren't strong enough to hold him up. They keep wanting to curl under and he walked on his ankles for the first day. Now he is doing better, although he's still pretty wobbley. Mama won't pay much attention to him unless I go out in the pasture. So twice a day I've been going out there and giving her some sweet grain and putting the calf on her, helping him to stand, so at least he can get something to eat. I don't want to have to bottle feed him. He seems to be getting a little stronger every feeding, but I will keep it up as long as necessary. If I remember correctly, the last calf she threw did the same thing but only for a couple days. Tomorrow will be day 4 for this one and he's still walking like he's only a few hours old. Will keep you all posted....
     
  7. OD

    OD Well-Known Member

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    Does this cow get a good mineral supplement? I've noticed that older cows can get slightly low on calcium or magnesium & it really affects their ability to get around. Some can get low even with a supplement available. It might be worth asking your vet about.
     
  8. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    The new calf will get over the problem with its legs. He is large and was living it tight quarters for 9 months. Given a few more days and his legs will straighten out. This is not too uncommon.
     
  9. MRSSTEAK

    MRSSTEAK Well-Known Member

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    Thanks agmantoo. The calf's legs have straightened out now and he running around happily with the rest of the herd. This baby makes 6 cows we have now, so I worry a lot I guess that each one is doing good. It's expensive to lose a calf when you depend on it. I don't know how big ranchers do it. I would probably sleep in the field every night durring calving season just to make sure everyone was ok. And I'd be a lonely divorced woman. :haha:
    Thanks to everyone for your advice!
     
  10. Tarot Farm

    Tarot Farm Well-Known Member

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    I had a little roan cow that was 19 years old when I sold her. She was a Milking Shorthorn that I raised from a bucket calf. She always had nice calves and had a nice bull calf right before I sold her. Five years later, when I talked to the man who bought her, she had another fine heifer calf and he was going to keep them both. That would have made her 24 years old.

    My family raised purebred Black Angus. I wanted my 'own cattle', so I bought bucket calves (heifers) so I could tell my cattle from the rest of the herd. 'Roanie' was my first bucket calf and one of my favorites. I also had two half Holsteins (also bucket calves) that were a year or so younger than old Roanie. Making them around 17 or 18 years young.

    If you take good care of the cattle, they will produce and be healthy for years to come. Just like anything else.
     
  11. genebo

    genebo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It must depend upon how well they lived their lives and the breed that they are.

    I read a post from a lady in California whose Dexter cow calved when she was 30 years old.

    My oldest Dexter cow is 9 years old and she can't be told from her 4 year old daughter without a program.

    I even had an 11 year old goat deliver twin kids this year, when the average goat doesn't usually live past 9. She's as sleek and healthy looking as the rest of the herd, so I don't expect her to decline anytime soon.

    That 100 pound calf was probably the problem. I'm sure you're cow will be fine with her next calf, hopefully from a different bull, that throws smaller calves.

    Genebo
    Paradise Farm