Calving issues, like calves that are too big at birth, can cause unnecessary stress for you and the animal. Calving season is already a hectic time of year, and you probably don’t have time for dealing with problems that could be prevented.
Here at Riomax®, we strive to be completely ‘rancher-centric’. That means doing whatever it takes to help you, as ranchers, become more profitable by creating an efficient herd and reducing the problems that make your life difficult. One common problem is big calves. While it is important for calves to be healthy and full of vigor, calves that are too big can cause issues.
We’ve compiled a few key actions you can take to prevent large calves, so let’s dive in!
How to Choose the Right Bull to Get the Right Calf Genetics
What are your cattle genetics? What are your bull’s EPDs? When you're shopping for a bull, it is essential to review his EPDs. Although EPDs can seem a little overwhelming or intimidating, it is most definitely worthwhile to take the time to analyze them. The bull’s EPDs are going to help you decipher if it is a fit for the goals you have on your operation.
When discussing calving season and calves that are too big, you’ll want to look at the bull’s calving ease direct, or CED. The higher this value, the greater the calving ease.
Let’s look at an example.
- Bull A has a calving ease of + 3.
- Bull B has a calving ease of + 8.
That tells us that Bull B has roughly a 5% better chance of unassisted births than Bull A does.
You may plan to retain heifers from this bull, and if so, it’s also important to look at the bull’s maternal calving ease, MCE. This value will help you determine the probability of unassisted births that the sire’s daughter will have at two years old; essentially, how well the heifer will calve out.
NOTE: Don’t look at calving ease separately from low birth weight on the EPD sheet. Low birth weight is actually already calculated into the calving ease EPD, so if you try to find a bull with a high CED AND a low birthweight, it will be more difficult to find the genetics you are looking for. By looking at CED alone, you’ll have a better chance finding what you want and improving your genetics.
Lastly, keep in mind different cattle breeds. Each breed has its own averages and lists of EPDs, so be sure to look at the EPD for your desired breed.
Cattle Mineral / Supplement Program
The second component that must be considered along with genetics is your cattle supplement program. It is crucially important that the mineral you feed your cows gets all the way to the fetus, and makes a positive impact on the rumen. Ensuring that the mineral you feed your cattle gets where it needs to go will have a direct impact on maximizing the genetics you’ve just spent your hard-earned money on. That’s why Riomax uses only 100% protected trace minerals, so they can do the job they were made to do.
Optimize Calf Genetics on Your Operation
Finding the right bull genetics for your herd is the first step to creating a successful and smooth calving season, with fewer big calves. A quality nutrition program only cements in those genetics and helps expand them to their full potential.
Not only will these tips make your life easier this calving season, they will help reduce issues in future calf crops for years to come.