On our farm right now we have four calves on the ground. That is four out of an expected 10. It has been a whirlwind of a week, with lessons learned at every turn.
We have spent a lot of time talking about selecting your bull and the option of using a calving ease bull on this site. With 50% of our births thus far needing assistance (2 out of 4), we are learning that you really do take your chances when selecting a bull, good genetics or not. Life, or in this case, calving, doesn’t always go exactly as planned.
Let us explain……
Last summer we leased a yearling, black Angus bull to breed our 10 red Angus heifers. This bull had good calving ease genetics, and we were hoping that he would prove to be a good calving ease bull himself. Calving ease was especially important for us as we were dealing with first-calf heifers and this was our first time calving.
Of the four calves we have on the ground, we had to assist in pulling two of those.
One of those two calves was a whopping 110 pounds! That is a big calf for a mature cow, let alone a first-calf heifer.
He is a brute.
Despite our bull’s good calving ease genetics, he is not proving himself as a calving ease bull.
A 110-pound calf is simply not calving ease.
Our other three calves were 80, 86 and 87 pounds. We had to pull the 86 pound calf.
Not what we consider calving ease.
The 80 and 87 pound calves came out like a dream, though. Exactly how you want your labor and delivery to go.
Even though they came out easy they are still on the larger side.
Our desired birth weight for calves from a first-calf heifer and a calving ease bull is 60-75 pounds.
Before we know it, in about 2 1/2 months, another breeding season will be upon us. We will be leasing another bull and you better believe that we will be making that selection very, very carefully and keeping all of the advice that we give in our selecting a bull post in mind.
We do have our eye on a proven calving ease bull that we would like to lease this summer. Even so, you take your chances with whatever bull you pick.
We got into the beef cattle business knowing that, as with any business, there are risks and there are rewards, there are ups and there are downs.
As I am typing this, I can see our newest calf nursing his mom. He is a big boy, and we had to pull him but that calf is strong and healthy.
That’s all the reward we need.