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Smaller Isn't Always Better

Posted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 3:24 pm
by Silver
GM88 Shared this on Facebook and I thought this was worth posting here. Seems like the mortality rates he mentions are awful high for any class of calves but not a big surprise as to which class of calves have the toughest time.


http://angus.media/News/Angus-Convention/547/Smaller-Isnt-Always-Better

Re: Smaller Isn't Always Better

Posted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 3:31 pm
by Big Muddy rancher
First of all, What the heck are you doing reading "Angus Media" lol

I was chasing light calves when I started out but have since made "Moderation in Excess" my motto.
Nothing extremely light and nothing extremely heavy. You need a cow/heifer big enough to do the job by her self while passing of a moderate birth wt. calf.

Re: Smaller Isn't Always Better

Posted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 3:59 pm
by Faster horses
How small is too small and how big is too big? We love those small (75-80#)calves that can get up and run!!

Re: Smaller Isn't Always Better

Posted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 4:28 pm
by Big Muddy rancher
Faster horses wrote:How small is too small and how big is too big? We love those small (75-80#)calves that can get up and run!!



I think the article was referencing light calves 40 to 60 lb range. I agree 75 to 80lbs is a nice size for the range calving we do. I try not to buy bulls with a birth wt much over 85lbs. Considering most places selling bulls feed heavier than I do they should throw a bit lighter calves out of my cows.

Re: Smaller Isn't Always Better

Posted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 7:34 pm
by Silver
Big Muddy rancher wrote:First of all, What the heck are you doing reading "Angus Media" lol


If Red Angus count as Angus I have my share. All things in moderation. :D

Re: Smaller Isn't Always Better

Posted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:49 pm
by graybull
In my part of the world.........big dead calves don't sell well. Much better to have a live small calf.

Re: Smaller Isn't Always Better

Posted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:25 pm
by Big Muddy rancher
graybull wrote:In my part of the world.........big dead calves don't sell well. Much better to have a live small calf.


In the article that Silver posted they stated that small calves(40 to 60 lb) calves didn't do as well farther down the line.
So possibly the rancher selling those calves might do better the calves themselves have high death loss at weaning and in the feedlot.They also aren't as thrifty because they didn't get as much colostrum.
That's their theory.
Again the moderate sized caves that most of us strive for probably make us the most money.

A bunch of us are getting to old to mess around pulling big calves. I think it used to be a badge of honor to some that had cows with 6 C section scars. Showing off the dead 140 lb calf they pulled out. :?

Re: Smaller Isn't Always Better

Posted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 10:16 pm
by Faster horses
Big dead calves don't pay any bills. Big live calves can be a lot of extra work if they don't get going like they should.

We know good people who use a terminal breed bull and they baby sit those cows as if they were first-calf heifers, checking them every 2 hours. That's WORK. The calves weigh a lot in the fall, tho, so as with anything, it comes down to choices.

Re: Smaller Isn't Always Better

Posted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 10:40 pm
by Shortgrass
Live is always better. Smaller is not. 50 to 60 lbs is too little for me. Weaning time, big is better. Birthing time, big can be too big for anyone. I like 80 on heifers, 90 on cows, but my cows are too big for most. Usually I get by fine with 100 lbs, but I don't like them. I calf late March and April, and don't feed any more than smaller cows calving in February/March because wet cows use more feed than heavies. We all need to have a program figured out that we can make work for where we are and who we are.

Re: Smaller Isn't Always Better

Posted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 6:59 am
by WB
All things considered, every operation is a little different but I do think most operations are birthing calves that are too small. Too big has dire consequences. I personally am happier with a bull calf in the 90 to 100 lb. range than one less than 80. Birth weights strongly follow cow families so if a cow has a giant birth wt. calf early in her life she likely will have another. Her daughters will follow suit.

Re: Smaller Isn't Always Better

Posted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 9:48 am
by Mike
They have completely left out "Pelvic Size" out of the equation. That, to me, is the deciding factor between hard & easy calving cows, moreso than calf weight.

I take a good hard look and feel of the pelvic size of heifers when preg checking the first time. If they have extremely small pelvis' and are open, they take a ride. If they have extremely small openings and are bred, they get put on a watch list when calving. I can usually determine & predict which ones may have calving problems.

Re: Smaller Isn't Always Better

Posted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 10:03 am
by Faster horses
On the subject of selecting for birthweight, a very knowledgeable Angus breeder (not part of the Montana Angus Mafia :wink: ) taught me how to select for suitable bw for heifer bulls. You have to look through the pedigree of the cow as bw is highly heritable from the cow, more than from the bull. It amazes me how some of these bull producers will tout a bull as being good for heifers and you look back through the maternal pedigree and see GDAR Rito 2100, for instance. The same with the bull. YOU CANNOT GO STRICTLY BY THE BW OF THE SIRE. That gets a lot of people in trouble. You must look through the pedigree. I learned that and it served us very well. So glad he took the time to enlighten me.