Questions for the Experts

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Haggis, May 10, 2005.

  1. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    Firstly: I watch some RFD TV and every so often there is a show called "Cattle". In some of these shows there is a cowboy rancher who always says things like, "We have to get mineral into our heifers," or "Mineral is the most important feed you can give a cow or heifer before breeding season," or "We feed our cows and heifers mineral," or "Mineral is one of the most important parts of our breeding program."

    The last time I was in a chemistry class there was lots of stuff that could pass for "mineral," what in blazes is this guy talkng about?

    Secondly: A while back someone here mentioned giving a cow or heifer a shot of something to bring them into heat, does anyone know what that something is?

    The reason I'm asking is; I want to AI breed my five ladies the end of June or 1st of July for calves in April of '06. If they need "mineral" I want them to have it, and if I can breed them all the same day, I can plan for calves within a week or ten days of each other.

    I'm going to one of those Select Sire AI breeding classes the middle of June.
     
  2. cudabob

    cudabob New Member

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    Mineral blocks are available at any feed store. Be sure to find out if there are any common deficiencies in your area. For example, we have local selenium shortages in our hay, so I always get "salt" blocks with minerals and selenium. Loose mineral can also be fed free choice or mixed with rations.

    "Syncing" (synchronizing the heat cycles of cows or heiffers) can be done with injections. Any good feed store can help you with this. Do you have a squeeze chute?
     

  3. evermoor

    evermoor Well-Known Member

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    While far from an expert on anything, I know that lutalyse is used to bring cattle into heat. You can get it from a vet, fairly inexpensive. You inject intramuscularly 5cc and usually the cow will be showing signs within 3 days. To synch a group you inject them all and again in 10 days breed 72 hours later. Pharmecuticals and reproduction (esp dairy) is a huge deal. Most big dairies ovsynch cows so they only breed say on a Monday, all hormone shots nothing natural???? We have starteed to use a CIDR's to synch some heifers. Think hormone laced female suppositorty, I'm sure Select will tell you all about them.
    AS for the mineral I believe a general or all purpose mineral mix would be OK. Some areas and diets are deficient in trace or other minerals. Again this gets carried away with science and iu's of such things. Grandpa allways said that pigs needed dirt for iron and other things. Personally I think he was a little off ( maybe it's my generation). Have you ever noticed that the cows find a particular area to lick?? Here we add a mineral mix, vitamin pack to feed and offer free choice salt, dical, and Soda Bicarbonate. Certainly some minerals directly affect reproduction, ask your vet, or do a search on the web.
     
  4. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    We tried Lutalyce and no luck, anytime we used it the animal did not take, and never showed a strong "normal" heat. In otherwords, our Jersey we did that early December, she showed sign but did not act like she was in heat. She was bred, did not take. Second time she came into heat, a normal natural heat, she was jumping etc. Thing is, breeder came too late, and missed her. Well on Feb 28th I saw her in heat, and stuck her with the bull. You see, when I did that it was timed perfectly, was several hours after she came into heat and she took. Nothing to do with the bull, the fact I was there to stick her with the bull made all the difference. There are programs you can talk to your Select Sires rep. about, they have them.


    As far as minerals, we give ours a mineral block, it's actually a salt block/mineral block. They are red, the white is salt. Those red blocks are the blocks, its the best of both worlds. Our herefords have them, and last year we were 100%, one was not pregnant, but there is a reason for that, she wasn't with the bull that summer. The holsteins we have are coming into heat, and they have a block as well. There is more than minerals, a good balanced diet will keep her fertility up, and from the sounds of it your set there. We don't feed ours any special mineral suppliment aside from their block etc etc. They all come into heat, they all get bred. Everyone has their own program, I know mine works.


    Jeff
     
  5. JanO

    JanO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm not going to claim to be an expert in this, but it seems to me that natural heat is the best way to go. Just stay alert and be ready to call the AI guy out when the time comes. JMHO

    As far as minerals are concerned keep a red salt block available to them and that should be sufficient. Also kelp is an excellent source of minerals for cows. You can find out more about using kelp for animals at http://www.noamkelp.com/slfeed.html
     
  6. cudabob

    cudabob New Member

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    most of the people I know who AI also try to synch the mommas. After they are AI'd, they turn out a bull from an obviously different breed (called a "clean-up" bull). When the calves are born, the off-color ones can automatically be culled.

    Don't be supprised if your cull rates are pretty high!

    Unless you have a purebred herd, I'd find the girls a nice boyfriend and save myself the headache.
     
  7. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    Hi Haggis,
    Minerals vary greatly from one part of the country to the other and even between farms. If you are concerned about the health of your stock there are two things you can do. Have a soil test done - I can't talk about the States but over here they are reasonably priced and give you a good idea of what is wrong with your soil (if anything) and recommend ways of correcting the situation. The other thing is to talk to your vet and arrange to have some blood tests done over a cross-section of your animals. These too will show up any glaring deficiences they may have and a good vet should be able to advise you on how to deal with them. Too much of some minerals are as dangerous as not giving them enough.

    Mineral/salt licks are limited in their use and should not be relied upon in deficient areas to make up the shortfall. They have minimal minerals to avoid the danger of poisoning when used in areas where there is not a deficiency. The same applies to mineral supplemented drenches.

    Know your land, know your grass. I farm in an area which is grassed predominantly with Kykuyu grass. Kykuyu doesn't take up sodium, consequently I provide salt licks. We are also deficient in copper and to a lesser extent, selenium and cobalt. Copper is administered by injection annually, the other two are mixed with the fertislizer.

    Evermoor, your grandfather knew exactly what he was talking about. Piglets born in a pen and never allowed to free-range need iron injection within 48 hours of birth as the sow can only manufacture enough for her own needs. Free range piglets will "eat" the soil and get sufficient iron for their needs.

    I can't comment on your other question except to say that I use a bull and all four of my cows have calved within the week - the first last Wednesday, the last on Monday. I know my next lot will do the same. They all went to the bull on two consecutive days and none returned.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  8. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    I keep several salt blocks with selenium scattered about my barn and paddocks, but I'll ask the local feed store guy if I'm covering all the bases. My vet doesn't do blood tests, adn he's the only vet in these parts who works with cattle.

    Professional AI folks do not exist around here. I ask my vet who I could get to do my cattle and he told me I was out of luck unless I could do it myself.

    I had a young registered bull for my Milking Devons, and I even had a younger replacement bull, but they became useless once the vet said they were infected with bovine trichomoniasis. It seems that one or more of the cows the nice lady sold me was infected and the cow was good enough to ruin my bulls. (I wondered why the nice lady was selling all of her cattle except a few very young unbred heifers.)

    I don't have a squeeze but my girls are not "wild." When the vet was here to remove the afterbirth from one of my heifers he expressed a wee bit of concern about how we would hold her. I just put a halter on her and tied her to a Tamarack tree in the paddock. She didn't kick, and didn't struggle too much. I've seen a plan from a Texas Longhorn ranch for making a squeeze from gates that looks pretty good. If all else fails, one of my close neighbors has a portable squeeze.

    My ladies don't bellow when in heat like those I remember from my youth. With my milk cows the first sign I usually see is a blood clot which I take to mean that they will be coming back into heat in 21 days. The Milking Devons never ride each other, and the Jerseys only rarely do; certainly not with every heat. If I can purchase some of the drugs you good folk have mentioned I'll have to give them a try. I had rather keep a bull to perform this duty, but it is not to be.

    Thanks a heap. You folks have given me some good pointers.
     
  9. Tom McLaughlin

    Tom McLaughlin Tom

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  10. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We use lutalyse to bring them into heat on rare occassions. Though this year, we are adjusting our management practics back to semi-seasonal milking again so will need to use some artificial means of control in breeding.
    What we have always done is we have the vet out to palpate and pregnancy check. He checks to see if they are close enough to their next heat to use the Lutalyse to hurry them along. Not all get the shot because they aren't close enough to their next heat.
    We breed all the ones we lut in 72 hours AI. We had two out six bred settle this way. One of the others has yet to settle (after being AIed, Lut'd and run with a bull) and the other have joined the herd or are bred to join the herd after running with the bull. The one that has yet to settle was showing a very strong heat when she was bred after the Lut but is now a fat three year old heifer.
    I have been monitoring the heats on the cows and heifers we have left to breed. They will be bred starting in June and part way through July we will probably have our vet in to palpate and Lut anyone we didn't catch with a natural heat. That way 2/3rds of our herd will calve out in March/April (and only 1/3 in the barn in January/February).
    K-Mars are my best friend. ;) Those things are great if your cattle are in a place where there aren't many low lying limbs for them to tear them off with or for them to set off.



    As for minerals, a lot of the minerals are in our grain. We also put out 3-in-1 blocks for Beef cattle by Sweetlix in our heifer/dry cow area.
     
  11. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Depending what you want out of the cows, picking a bull that is gentle would be an idea if you decide to get a bull. The calves aren't big, we had a Jersey once upon a time get bred to a hereford bull by accident (place where she was at, had a bull so it kinda sorta happened). Now if you want those purbred Jerseys, for perhaps more for the herd. Find a Jersey bull, they are snotty, aren't friendly, but for one use to Get-R-Done, why not? Those Jersey bulls are aggressive breeders, and as long as your not in there going "hey buddy, your a nice little bully wooly", you will be fine. All ya want him for is to breed, and once he is done, c-ya! They are generally ready at a year, pending how big he gets, and this would get you a purebred Jersey, vs crossbred.


    Just an Idea for the Jersey bull.



    Jeff
     
  12. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Feeding loose mineralized salt is preferred by me to assure that the cattle get all they want without having to lick forever. There are a number of companies that say that the mineralized salt is inadequate to meet the animals needs and these companies offer an alternative with supposedly more trace elements, better quantites of minerals as well as vitamins. I do boost this cheaper product if I anticipate bloat by adding magnesium oxide and dicalcium phosphate. Currently, my cattle consume less than $15 worth of mineralized salt per month and acording to my calculation the enhanced minerals would cost me in excess of $300 per month. I cannot justify the $285 increase in operating costs particularly with the jump in fertilizer prices. So far I have not witnessed where I have suffered from "inadaquately" feeding by the mineralized salt. The cattle are fat and the hides slick and the feeder calves sell good. There is something to be said for being a low cost producer, certainly it enables one to remain in the market.
     
  13. jerzeygurl

    jerzeygurl woolgathering

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    jerseys bulls taste good too!!! get er done then hop in freezer!!!! they are also entertaining if you have a pen for them,ever see the bull on bugs bunny, thats what they act like :haha:
     
  14. MissKitty

    MissKitty Mrs. no longer OldGrouch.

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    We never could catch our Jersey in a natural heat...She was a "closet breeder"..lol..SO we had the vet to come out to the farm and AI'ed her with registered Jersey bull sprem...Oh yeah my husband had got 2 shots from him he had to give her before the act....She took the first time and now we are expectiong heifer number 2...MissKitty
     
  15. Shelly

    Shelly Member

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    We AI many of our cows and have found that a mineral salt block is not enough for our area. We use a loose mineral mix and offer it free choice along with white salt. We started buying the really good stuff this year and are getting stronger heats, sooner after calving than when we used to "regular" loose mineral. Our cows had no trouble conceiving to a bull when they were only getting blocks, but you really need all your ducks in a row to successfully AI. (No, we still don't have as high a conception rate as we'd like - I think our timing may be off a smidge on the ones we are missing.)

    I don't think you can get lutalyse from a feed store, it's a prescription drug. Evermoor is right on with giving shots 10 days apart - this is because Lutalyse will not work on females that don't have a CL - they have to be at a certain point in their cycle. So, when you give that first shot of Lute you will probably see some in heat during that first three days, some will not respond. You can breed those is in heat with the first shot, or wait and re-dose the Lute and they should all come in. With only 5 head, you might want to get them all in heat at once so you get more activity, and those that miss to the first AI will all be coming in at roughly the same time for their next heat. You might also want to look into CIDRs. Your AI class should go over sychronization protocols but researching is a good idea ahead of time as you'll have to get right on the ball to get them bred two weeks after your class. Do you have a semen tank or are you planning to just keep the semen in the shipper until you need it? The shipper won't last very long (1 or 2 days if I remember?).

    I would say that if you were just breeding on natural heats, tying them up will probably work. However, if you've stuck them with a needle the last two times you tied them, they might not be so willing to stand still that third time when you want to breed them. Maybe borrow the neighbor's chute for the injections and breed them tied - the less stress at breeding the more likely conception.

    KMARs are great but the new Estrus Alert patches are awesome! No glue, they're like stickers!!!!

    Dosthouhavemilk - sounds like your three year old might be cystic. Is she having heats at odd times (not every 18-23 days)? If so, a shot of Cystorelin should fix that.
     
  16. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm waiting for our Co-op to start carrying the K-Mars with stickers on the back instead of that glue. :rolleyes: Should have asked yesterday but forgot.

    Juliana does not appear to be cystic. Carina, however, was cystic and after running with Jason for half a year she is cleared up and due to calve in December. We figured we would be shipping her this year but instead she'll be joining the herd. She was sooo bad she would shove our poor little bull off the animal he was breeding so she could climb on. :haha:
    Juliana has a healthy reproductive system. Our vet did pregnancy checks on the second and he would have mentioned if she was cystic.
    I think the biggest reason was she is not a nice heifer and Jason was not as tall as we had hoped he would be at ten months old (he bred his first animal at nine months and we sold him when he was almost 16 months old). She was big and mean to him. He didn't spend much time with the heifers he was supposed to settle. He preferred the more docile older ladies and the younger heifers, but he did what he was supposed to do. He ensured that the majority of our heifer herd would join the milking herd and we gave the heifers we weren't catching in heat a better chance. Our breeding set up for our heifers leaves a bit to be desired. We don't see them everyday and so don't catch every heat. But we manage to get a large percentage of them in the herd eventually.

    We'll Lutalyse Juliana and Bjork (if she didn't settle to AI on the second) when we check them next month. If they don't settle...well, those big heifers will bring a nice chunk of change.


    Aparently, Fred (our vet) is checking for the CL when he decides if we can Lute them to breed three days later or not.
     
  17. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    I'll pick up some bags of minerals and salt on my next feed store visit, but I'm beginning to get the Heebee Geebees on this whole AI, hormone shot deal.

    It costs $250 for the AI class, 400 miles of driving and gasoline, four days away from home, a motel and eats, finding a stand-in milker, I don't have a freezer for the semen; I'll be out a pile of money and time for maybe a 40% chance of success? I think I'll just listen to jerzeygurl and buy me a young bull, breed him to my ladies, and then stuff a freezer with him.

    Maybe I can combine some of this information? Feed plenty of area appropriate minerals, try to syncronize heats in my ladies with hormone shots, use a 14 or 15 month old small milkstock bull to do what he is made for, and fill my freezer with some good eats when he's done.

    I won't need a freezer for semen, I won't have to leave home, I'll be spending most of my money on beef, and there will be a near 100% success ratio.

    Thanks a heap folks.
     
  18. Shelly

    Shelly Member

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    Haggis,

    A bull that you are only going to keep for the breeding season is definitely less labor intensive than breeding. If I were going to do it, I wouldn't even synchronize. (Oh, I just re-read your op, it might be worth it to you to synch if calving that close together is a big plus.) A cow's cycle averages 21 days (18-23 is a normal range). I think I'd either chalk their tailheads really well or use Estrus Alerts/KMARs and turn the bull out - this will let you know when they were in heat and allow you to make sure they are all cycling. At the outside 65 days or so will give him three heat cycles with each girl (if you don't synch), anything not bred after that probably has a problem.

    A warning on bull buying, make sure he's vaccinated and passed a semen test (my vet charges $35) - if he's not producing good semen you are wasting time and money. Make sure the girls are vaccinated, too.

    Roseanna, you can get the Estrus Alerts through Valley Vet if you want. They have them for $55 for 50, compared to $48 for 50 KMARs. My local stores don't carry them.
     
  19. rev

    rev Member

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    Here's a thought Haggis; I noticed that there are several Normande cattle breeders that live close by you up on the Iron Range... Check out http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NormandeCattle for a list of local cattle breeders. The Normande cross to either your Jerseys or the Milking Devons seems to be an ideal one for a good utility herd, since they are good milkers and hae superior Beef traits; particularly in the loin area. For what it's worth...



     
  20. rev

    rev Member

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    What I was THINKING, but forgot to suggest, is that perhaps you could RENT one of their bulls for a month or two to breed your dairy herd.