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Old 22nd May 2011, 10:10 PM   #1
thevarneys
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What age to get heifer pregnant?

We have a friesan 11 month and Jersey (7 - 8 month?)from last spring (dont know exact age). When should we make plans to put them with a bull. I though it was about 18 months?
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Old 22nd May 2011, 10:30 PM   #2
Ruth
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Re: What age to get heifer pregnant?

If they're your only stock and you have no experience with calving, better to let them get a little older. In the dairy industry it's 15 month mating, for 2-yr calving, but they heifers have to be well grown and they take careful management through the winter when they're pregnant. You need also to pay careful attention to your choice of bull. If you don't mate them until they're over two, they're a bit less sensitive to some of those things.
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Old 23rd May 2011, 12:10 AM   #3
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Re: What age to get heifer pregnant?

Put them to the bull in December and you'll get calves the following September, ready for the Spring grass growth. Friesians need longer to reach full size than Jerseys do. Jerseys have less issues with calving than Friesians (given the correct bull for mating). I give our Dexter heifers a few extra months of growth and put them to the bull at the same time as the rest of the breeding herd, in December, when they are about 27 months old. But with Dexters, as long as the heifer is well grown, any time after 16 months is okay to mate them. It just doesn't fit in with my breeding time-table, so I leave it an extra year, for my convenience. The heifers can't get fat on our place, so it does no harm. On lush pastures, leaving them for 27 months, can cause problems, if they get too fat.

For straight forward calving, do as Ruth suggests and mate them to a low birthweight bull. eg, Jersey, Dexter, Angus etc. Avoid large beef breeds like Charolai, especially for a first calving, as a straight forward first calving means a longer productive life for a cow. If its quick and easy, the heifer has plenty of energy left to mother her calf well. Making life much easier for you.
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Old 23rd May 2011, 10:31 AM   #4
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Re: What age to get heifer pregnant?

I would keep away from mating them with Limousin, Hereford and some beef Shorthorn bloodlines too. We have had much easier calvings with Red Devon bulls (NB not South Devon).
My neighbour AI ed her heifer with easy-calving Murray Grey, which needed lots of our help for her to get it out. Thus AI does not give a foolproof calving, because the feed amount in the last month before calving is very important. That is when the calf grows the most, so the cows feed should be restricted to just what is needed.
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Old 23rd May 2011, 10:52 AM   #5
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Re: What age to get heifer pregnant?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LongRidge View Post
...because the feed amount in the last month before calving is very important. That is when the calf grows the most, so the cows feed should be restricted to just what is needed.
LR, that's dangerous old thinking. The real advice, which could be read from what you've written but actually takes careful calculation and management, is that the heifer must continue to be fed enough to support her own needs, which include growing herself. In reality that's a really hard thing to manage, because we can't control what goes on inside the heifer in terms of allocation of resources.

The most sensible thing to do with only a small number of stock (and therefore tricky pasture management) is to wait until they're a bit older, which reduces their chances of problems.

For instance, I've a fat R3 heifer here who's going out with the weaned cows for the winter, because she doesn't need to grow any more (she's already 630kg). She does only need maintenance. (I will be watching her through the pregnancy though, to ensure she really is getting enough feed.) That heifer will be mature enough by calving time to do her job without too much worry on my part.

But get a R2 heifer too fat or too thin and there'll be problems. Don't give her quite enough feed coming up to calving and she'll become too feeble to calve easily.
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Old 23rd May 2011, 11:13 AM   #6
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Re: What age to get heifer pregnant?

Thanks for your first paragraph which amplifies exactly what I didn't say very well :-)
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Old 23rd May 2011, 12:38 PM   #7
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Re: What age to get heifer pregnant?

LR a vet told me that the early pregnancy is just as much a problem time for young heifers, if they get fed too well, as the placenta grows big early and thus supports a large calf later in pregnancy.

It all comes down to managing the heifer properly right through her first pregnancy if she is young. Also remember that half of the genes come from the female side so using a low birth weight bull is only half the story!
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Old 23rd May 2011, 01:12 PM   #8
Ruth
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Re: What age to get heifer pregnant?

At the Landcorp field day I attended last week, Steve Morris from Massey said that the research which has been done recently - part of Rebecca Hickson's heifer calving doctorate work, I think - showed no difference in calf size/weight with differences in feeding in the first trimester either.

The best advice seems to be to feed adequately and steadily to meet the heifer's needs for maintenance and growth and she'll be big and strong enough to calve, feed her calf and get back in calf for the second time.

Trying to control calf size through feeding is pointless. It must be done when you select the bull for the first mating.

I still maintain that calving heifers is not for starters with cattle! If you don't have experience with calving, don't start out with young heifers. They need experienced management and experienced observation and care during calving.
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Old 23rd May 2011, 02:13 PM   #9
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Re: What age to get heifer pregnant?

Agree with Ruth - to calve at 3 or thereabouts depending what time of year you want them to calve. Assuming that is Spring, then as Inger says December - that would be the December when they're two and a bit, not one and a bit.
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Old 23rd May 2011, 03:45 PM   #10
thevarneys
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Re: What age to get heifer pregnant?

Thanks for information all - I am happy to wait longer rather than sooner. Not heaps of experience with calving but have helpful farming neighbours. Was going to try and use their bull, but it is milking shorthorn, might be a problem with large calf? Otherwise was going to work in with them with A1 and get my cows done with hormone at same time. Although, I was hoping to stagger their calving so we would not run out of milk.
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Old 23rd May 2011, 04:49 PM   #11
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Re: What age to get heifer pregnant?

Milking shorthorn should be a good choice, over your dairy heifers.
Has the farmer got evidence that he is an easy calving bull? The Shorthorns are moderate sized British breed and the Milking strain smaller than the Beef Shorthorn, or at least finer boned and better milkers.
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Old 23rd May 2011, 05:16 PM   #12
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Re: What age to get heifer pregnant?

was going to say Sue .. milking shothorn would be similar in low birth weight to a Murray Grey wouldnt it ? and would be great over a jersey/dairy cow
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