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Calving ease vs. birth weight

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Wyoming Wind

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Someone set me straight...which is more important when trying to buy bulls for breeding to heifers, C.E. or their actual birth weight? Or both...and how is calving ease figured in bulls? We are getting ready to start buying bulls and that's what we are needing are heifer bulls. Thanks for your input!
 

leanin' H

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I like to see Calving Ease and an actual birth weight be on the low side when looking at heifer bulls. But sometimes that number on actual weight can be a little deceiving. If a calf is long and kinda lean, a 90-100 calf can come real easy. But a squared shouldered stocky calf can be a pain at 75 pounds. There are lots of others here who can give you better info. Good luck whichever direction you head! :D
 

Howdy1

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When I buy heifer bulls I use both factors. I know that birth epd's and C.E. epd's are supposed to be better indicators than an individual's actual birth weight. I use them all together. If a bull has really low epd's for birth but had a 90# act. birth weight I refuse to buy him. Might be dumb but on heifers it isn't worth the risk. I would hate to take the risk and end up pulling a bunch of calves out of first calf heifers. But then again I really, really hate to pull calves out of first calvers!!

With heifer bulls I look for a little finer made bull. Slender head, smooth neck and transition into the shoulders. I give up a little performance in heifer bulls because it is critical to keep birth as easy as possible for the mamma. That doesn't mean I would use corriente or anything like that!

Just my opinion for what its worth.

Howdy

by the way it's good to have time to post again
 

RSL

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FWIW - we look at CE EPD first, and also look at the CE EPD of sire/dam and further back into the pedigree to prevent too many throwbacks.
CE EPD includes calving ease, but also birthweight information, so we find it a better tool for us.
We also look at the birthweight EPD and then the actual birthweight after that.
If you are buying early born (Jan/Feb) bulls the birthweight from the same genetics will be 10 pounds heavier than the same calf born in June due to nutrition, winter etc. so the EPD lets us sort through some of that and find the bulls we need.
When we are planning to keep heifers out of a sire we also pay close attention to MCE. We always subtract the CE component out of the MCE number so we can get a truer picture of the daughters actual ability to calve unassisted. (for most breeds MCE is actually CETM = MCE + 1/2 CE) I like to keep my selection for CE and MCE seperate from each other.
 

gcreekrch

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Howdy1 said:
When I buy heifer bulls I use both factors. I know that birth epd's and C.E. epd's are supposed to be better indicators than an individual's actual birth weight. I use them all together. If a bull has really low epd's for birth but had a 90# act. birth weight I refuse to buy him. Might be dumb but on heifers it isn't worth the risk. I would hate to take the risk and end up pulling a bunch of calves out of first calf heifers. But then again I really, really hate to pull calves out of first calvers!!

With heifer bulls I look for a little finer made bull. Slender head, smooth neck and transition into the shoulders. I give up a little performance in heifer bulls because it is critical to keep birth as easy as possible for the mamma. That doesn't mean I would use corriente or anything like that!

Just my opinion for what its worth.

Howdy

by the way it's good to have time to post again

The only thing I would add to this is that I like to see a few generations of light BW cattle behind the bull I'm considering. Buying from long time breeders is an advantage as they can direct you to calving ease families in their herd.

Tried the Longhorn thing too, loved them until the scale door opened at the yards.
 

Justin

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this is one of those questions that the answer is gonna depend on who you ask. :wink: but here is my 2 cents...
the last few years, i've been paying more and more attention to the CED and CEM numbers rather than BW. a bigger calf can come pretty easy if he's made right. that's not to say i don't pay any attention to BW, just not as much as i use to. plus birth weight and calving ease has much more to do with the cow than alot of people realize. it's pretty easy to blame the bull when a problem occurs, but it's not always going to be his fault.

but we always need to remember what the E in EPD stands for. :wink:
 

Faster horses

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Look back into the cow families for bw. That's so important. Sometimes
a 90 lb. bw individual bull will be easier calving than a 70 lb.
bw bull, because the 70 pounder could be an oddity in a family
of heavy bw cattle and the 90 pounder could be the
odd one in a family of low bw familes.

Remember, cattle breed back to the
AVERAGES of that line of cattle (told to me by Larry Leonhart,
an American guru of genetics). Look at Rainmaker 340; he
himself had a 90 lb. bw but he was touted the world over
as a "HEIFER BULL" and he certainly was. Time has proven
that beyond a doubt. So to me, the cow families are important,
possibly THE most important thing to look at when selecting
a heifer bull. I've done it this way for years and it's worked
100% of the time.
And remember, 70% of bw comes from the COW, as Justin
mentioned. If you have heavy bw in your cattle, a light bw
bull isn't gonna fix that and it's not his fault.

Good luck! :D Let us know what you choose.
 

WVGenetics

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All the above are really good answers with experience to back them up!

Again FWIW, I would add that although actual BW is necessary for seedstock breeders to collect, its actual direct value for selection is really very low. There are too many variables like cow weight, genetics, environment, etc. Just like all the other traits, ratios should be used for within herd comparisons of individuals. A 90-95# actual BW could be calving ease depending on the herd. IMO, probably the best values are the CE values...CED in your case...because they account for many of these variables (more than just BW) and therefore are more robust. Still the heritability is lower than BW EPD.
 

hillsdown

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I think heifer selection is as important as bull selection. Pelvic measurement is a good tool to use in a herd if they are having alot of calving problems even when using low BW, high CE bulls .

Also you need to know the environment in which the bulls heifers calve in ,if it is in an area where it does not get very cold BW's should be lower than say a herd who calves in Jan/Feb in say Montana or Alberta.

Our clean up bull for the heifers CE epd was 110 (breed average is 103 ?) and his actual BW was 78lbs . The heifers he was used on BW averaged 90 lbs and the lightest was 76 lbs, but 2 weeks early. However we had record cold temps when they were in their last trimester, which really skewed BW's .

I agree with everyone ,all really good info . :)
 

MO_cows

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You all are smart! The gist of the replies is just about what Dr. Rick Bourden, then with CSU, answered when this question came up in a seminar about EPD that I attended.
 
A

Anonymous

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Also remember cattle born/used in the southern climates/warmer enviroments normally have a lower BW/BW EPD than the identically bred cattle that are being used in the colder/northern areas... Some studies show this can vary by several pounds......Which makes the reliability of EPD's more valuable if using cattle/bloodlines from/ and that have been used in your same enviroment....
 

Red Barn Angus

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OT, I agree with what you said about birth weights in cold and warmer climates. I have always wondered just why that is. It would almost seem to me that birthweight could depend quite a lot on the amount and quality of feed the cow had while pregnant. Just curious.
 

gcreekrch

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Red Barn Angus said:
OT, I agree with what you said about birth weights in cold and warmer climates. I have always wondered just why that is. It would almost seem to me that birthweight could depend quite a lot on the amount and quality of feed the cow had while pregnant. Just curious.

The theory I heard on this topic was that a northern cow's heart will pump slightly faster in order to keep warm in the winter. More blood flow means more nutrients to the fetus.
 

WyomingRancher

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I think it has something to do with blood flow... in cold climates, it flows inward, towards organs = more nutrients for growth, or something like that. It's been 15 years since I had to learn it for a test, so I may have it completely wrong :? :lol: .
 

Lonecowboy

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WyomingRancher said:
I think it has something to do with blood flow... in cold climates, it flows inward, towards organs = more nutrients for growth, or something like that. .


that's why gals love us northern boys! :D
 

Red Barn Angus

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Well, Lonecowboy, why didn't you say so sooner. Now I understand completely!
To the serious responses......thanks much. I did learn something today.
 

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