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Young Open Cows

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WyomingRancher

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I've had a conversation with a couple of different people regarding keeping two and threes in the herd. I realize people sort them off to feed differently since they're young and growing, but it's not possible here since I need to keep them out of the trees during the last part of pregnancy, and only have one pasture to put them all in. Really, I don't believe I'd sort them off even if I could. Anyhow, the conversation always defaults to an open young cow not getting enough nutrition, BUT these cattle always look good.

What are your observations? It seems like the fleshy young cattle are open at the same rate as the lighter ones. I just don't buy into the "they didn't get enough to eat" excuse for young opens all of the time. The funny thing is lately I've had the highest open rate in my 5/6's?! Explain that one! :p
 

katrina

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We usually run our 2s with our cows.. We just sort as we go to pasture.... But..... we didn't last year. We seperated the 2s and put them in a seperate pasture and supplimented them all summer thinking we would get a better breed back... These hiefiers were boughten hiefiers that maybe didn't have a very good start.. I AIed them the spring before and had terrible conception rates.. Now remember I'm married to the man who can feed cattle like no one else! And we..(I) thought they were in good shape not to fat to breed..... Anyways after they calved and we sorted and supplimented all summer for breed back, we still had three dries out of 25 head... And I know that our own hiefers generally always breed back well.... Very seldom do we see an open 3 year old...... So I think it's just the cattle..... I do think now that it's really important for calves to have a good start after weaning... I also think that skimping on replacement calves will cost you down the road.....
 

Faster horses

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I couldn't agree more, Katrina, with the remark about 'good start
after weaning'. And really, cows and heifers get ready to be bred
even before they calve. I think what might happen, when the
heifers are slighted on feed, they don't reach puberty as they should.
I don't mean heifers need to be fat, either, but in a body condition
score of six when turned with the bull.

I have some customers that put their heifer calves in a feedlot
and they don't get mineral all winter. There are always too many
dries in those heifers. One thing we did do, suggest to those ranchers
to put
out some old hay or straw bales and that helped keep the yearling
heifers more content and they did breed up better. Lots of good
stuff in that new spring grass, but it is full of water and there isn't
much dry matter there. When we used to think cattle chased green
grass in the spring, what they were really after was DRY MATTER.

First time we tried it, we were sure they wouldn't eat that old
hay, but they did. Not like in the winter when they gobble hay,
but as they went by they'd eat a little of it and soon the bale was
gone. It sure suprised us.
 

lefty

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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082867/

this is where I would start . I would blood test your open cows for this .
 

WyomingRancher

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lefty said:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082867/

this is where I would start . I would blood test your open cows for this .

That's interesting information. What I meant to write was that the highest number of opens as a percentage came from my 5/6's... but nothing I'm too concerned with. I think they were 5% open in that age group last fall. I did shorten breeding season up to 55 days since no neighbor bulls crawled in later for once, so that may have influenced rates some.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't believe there is a magical condition score a female needs to be to be fertile... It obviously varies between individual animals. Some of this herd's skinniest cows breed right up each and every year. I keep thinking they'll fall out, but they just keep on going. I agree with Katrina, it has more to do with the cattle, and purchased cattle are always the hardest to retain in the herd... especially cattle which were pretty pampered in the past. The worst luck I've had were with purchased feedlot developed heifers, AI'd in the lot, then turned out onto grass. You could just watch the fat melt off of them, and most were gone by the time they turned 4. These cattle never really had a fair chance.

I also agree replacements need to be cared for, but that doesn't necessarily mean they need to live in a bed and breakfast (NR :D ). If they're growing, reasonably gaining, and cycling, I think you're on the right track, regardless of how they're being developed. I think there is a point in every operation, within reason, where you have to say, "this is the feed resource, this is the vaccine/mineral program, this is the amount of labor I'm putting into this. Either thrive or go down the road because this is as good as it's going to get," and let them sort themselves. I'm not talking about the extreme cases where people are neglectful, but I think a person needs to provide reasonable care, and call it good... :D .
 

katrina

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WyomingRancher said:
lefty said:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082867/

this is where I would start . I would blood test your open cows for this .

That's interesting information. What I meant to write was that the highest number of opens as a percentage came from my 5/6's... but nothing I'm too concerned with. I think they were 5% open in that age group last fall. I did shorten breeding season up to 55 days since no neighbor bulls crawled in later for once, so that may have influenced rates some.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't believe there is a magical condition score a female needs to be to be fertile... It obviously varies between individual animals. Some of this herd's skinniest cows breed right up each and every year. I keep thinking they'll fall out, but they just keep on going. I agree with Katrina, it has more to do with the cattle, and purchased cattle are always the hardest to retain in the herd... especially cattle which were pretty pampered in the past. The worst luck I've had were with purchased feedlot developed heifers, AI'd in the lot, then turned out onto grass. You could just watch the fat melt off of them, and most were gone by the time they turned 4. These cattle never really had a fair chance.

I also agree replacements need to be cared for, but that doesn't necessarily mean they need to live in a bed and breakfast (NR :D ). If they're growing, reasonably gaining, and cycling, I think you're on the right track, regardless of how they're being developed. I think there is a point in every operation, within reason, where you have to say, "this is the feed resource, this is the vaccine/mineral program, this is the amount of labor I'm putting into this. Either thrive or go down the road because this is as good as it's going to get," and let them sort themselves. I'm not talking about the extreme cases where people are neglectful, but I think a person needs to provide reasonable care, and call it good... :D .

I think.... You've got it figured out.... Bravo!! :clap:
 

Faster horses

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WyomingRancher said:
lefty said:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082867/

this is where I would start . I would blood test your open cows for this .

That's interesting information. What I meant to write was that the highest number of opens as a percentage came from my 5/6's... but nothing I'm too concerned with. I think they were 5% open in that age group last fall. I did shorten breeding season up to 55 days since no neighbor bulls crawled in later for once, so that may have influenced rates some.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't believe there is a magical condition score a female needs to be to be fertile... It obviously varies between individual animals. Some of this herd's skinniest cows breed right up each and every year. I keep thinking they'll fall out, but they just keep on going. I agree with Katrina, it has more to do with the cattle, and purchased cattle are always the hardest to retain in the herd... especially cattle which were pretty pampered in the past. The worst luck I've had were with purchased feedlot developed heifers, AI'd in the lot, then turned out onto grass. You could just watch the fat melt off of them, and most were gone by the time they turned 4. These cattle never really had a fair chance.

I also agree replacements need to be cared for, but that doesn't necessarily mean they need to live in a bed and breakfast (NR :D ). If they're growing, reasonably gaining, and cycling, I think you're on the right track, regardless of how they're being developed. I think there is a point in every operation, within reason, where you have to say, "this is the feed resource, this is the vaccine/mineral program, this is the amount of labor I'm putting into this. Either thrive or go down the road because this is as good as it's going to get," and let them sort themselves. I'm not talking about the extreme cases where people are neglectful, but I think a person needs to provide reasonable care, and call it good... :D .

YEP. You are remembering the cows are supposed to work for you!!
We were always really hard on our cows as far as breeding season.
42-44 days for the cows, 30 for the heifers. I think doing that you
keep the most fertile cattle.
 

littlejoe

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"I also agree replacements need to be cared for, but that doesn't necessarily mean they need to live in a bed and breakfast (NR ). If they're growing, reasonably gaining, and cycling, I think you're on the right track, regardless of how they're being developed. I think there is a point in every operation, within reason, where you have to say, "this is the feed resource, this is the vaccine/mineral program, this is the amount of labor I'm putting into this. Either thrive or go down the road because this is as good as it's going to get," and let them sort themselves. I'm not talking about the extreme cases where people are neglectful, but I think a person needs to provide reasonable care, and call it good... ."

There's the thought of trying to make the ranch fit the cows. Or the cows fit the ranch. The latter is maybe far more practical. And they'll weed themselves out to our conditions, if we let them.

Might have a cow that comes in skin and bones, with whopping big calf---and open. Not a bad cow. And might thrive and make lotsa $$ for owner in lusher envirionment. But don't fit the deal she's in.

there's the thought that if every one of your heifers is bred up---maybe you're feeding too good (and putting -0- selection pressure on) and in a yr or two---when she's no longer a 'heifferette'---some'll wash out.

We grow ours out pretty good---mostly just all the grain hay they want and some pickin'---till middle of march or so----then it's more grazing old grass and occasional bale----let 'em learn how to rustle, I don't care if they go backwards for a bit---breeding for apr 1 or so due date, they'll get kinda green grass flushed, be on the gain big time and have been breeding up good----and the few that don't, no time better to hit the road....
 

George

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I feel a lot of the time the weather determins the breed back - - - -We had Hot followed by Hot followed by Hot last year and many of the cattle men around here have a very high rate of opens.
 

Justin

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my bred heifers start calving the same time as the cows. as soon as the heifer has calved, her and her calf join the main bunch of pairs....from that point forward she gets NO special treatment. never had a problem with them breeding back.
 

badroute

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It's kinda funny not so much listening to other producers but listening to our so called beef experts from universities and experiment stations. They preach and preach on heifer developmentand how you have to do this and this and that. It almost seems like they try to make it a science. From my limited experience it is actually quite simple. Don't get em too fat or dont starve em. Give em the basic groceries and supplementation that you would expect a cow to live on and call it good.

I have turned em into summer pasture in too good a shape and suffered the consequences of them going backwards for awhile. this did not lead to the best breed up.

Last year for example, the winter was nasty, calving was no fun and labor intensive. By the time all the choring and calving duties were done the heifer calves got fed, they were literally the last priority on the place. A few times they went without. My heifers were not in bad shape by no means but in the worst shape I've ever turned them out in. Low and behold the breed up on them was around 97% on a year where alot of people were tickled to death if they could keep it under 15%. And that was on a 35 day breeding period. Was it luck, maybe but I am somewhat sold on kicking them out at a BCS of 5-6.

All I am saying is it doesn't have to be complicated to work.
 

Wyoming Wind

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WyomingRancher said:
I've had a conversation with a couple of different people regarding keeping two and threes in the herd. I realize people sort them off to feed differently since they're young and growing, but it's not possible here since I need to keep them out of the trees during the last part of pregnancy, and only have one pasture to put them all in. Really, I don't believe I'd sort them off even if I could. Anyhow, the conversation always defaults to an open young cow not getting enough nutrition, BUT these cattle always look good.
We run pretty similar programs...run on the national forest in the summer and in the past half century pastured all the cattle but replacement heifer calves in the same field in the winter. Including bulls. So our 2's and 3's had to compete all winter while getting fed with the older cows who really know how to eat hay fast and how to find the best hay that is fed out. You can certainly see the younger growing cows take it in the shorts compared to the older experienced cows. They are usually the thinnest but not alarmingly thin. HOWEVER, 2 years ago we fell into a fantastic lease down the road from here and brought the bred yearlings home to feed seperately around Feb as our partners thought they were getting too thin and we had the space to feed them seperately and they got the crap fed out of them for the remaining winter prior to calving. We had the worst calving ever for heifers that spring--I think we ended up growing the calves in their bellies at that pt in their pregnancy and not the mamas. We pulled ALOT of calves and it was a big pain. We learned fast if you are going to feed them seperatly to do it from the beginning of the winter. And we too find our boughten cattle do very poorly here in the winter with the snow and the elevation. We have however had very good success buying cattle from near by ranches. Their cows knew what to expect! Natural selection really does play into our operations---our best replacement calves are usually out of our raised cows and bloodlines that have been here for years. And with our replacement heifer calves we feed the hell out of them and they do get pampered a bit. We like that the little extra attention they get does make them more gentle to work around!
 

leanin' H

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Cattle that fit the eniviroment works while trying to make the enviroment fit the cow usually doesn't. Atleast in my world. Heifers have to have enough groceries to grow, breed and raise a calf and then breed back. They compartmentalize the nutrition and have to have enough to meet the needs further down the priority list like re-breeding. But cattle that don't fit the range seem to really stay behind the rest. Years ago, Utah State University bought a bunch of really pretty, crossbred young cows that had come off of the high mountain, tall grass country of northern Utah. You could almost hear those girls thinking as they got off the trailer, "What did we do to deserve this?" :shock: The range couldn't have been more different for them. They went from grass and water everywhere to sparce grass and browse and carrying a canteen full of dehydrated water! They were a little bigger framed cattle, but they all melted like an icecube. I think 2 made it past the second year, but all were gone in four years. They simply could not adapt quick enough to the conditions they faced out on the desert. Could cattle adapt? SURE! But some just aren't built that way. To me, it's a formula that contains nutrition+proper minerals and vitamins+cowherd makeup+enviromental conditions. And they all sure can vary from year to year.
 
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