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Offline justintime

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Birth weight epds and such
« on: January 17, 2019, 05:09:43 PM »
I had our first calf of  2019 today from a first calf heifer that was purchased last fall. Since arriving here, this heifer grazed a fall pasture with the rest of the cows until early December, and she had been on good quality grass hay since then. She had not had any grain since arriving here. I hear so many people who constantly praise or bash some bulls because of their BW EPDs ( of which some have been bulls I have owned)
I would like those who follow EPDs religiously explain what I should have been expecting from this two year old heifer. Here is a bit more information and the EPDs of the heifer and of the sire she was bred to:
The heifer is moderate framed and has two bulls, considered to be among the easiest calving in the breed as her sire and  as a grand sire.
EPDs for 2 year old heifer - CED  9  BW  1.5   WW 61
Epds of sire of calf -           CED   13  BW  0.9  WW 58

The sire of the calf is an American bull who is being used in several herds a safe choice to breed their heifers. There is no Maine or Trump bloodlines in him.
This heifer calved quickly and unassisted which is what I like. From the time the water bag started to show until the heifer calf was wobbling beside her mom looking for a teat, 40 minutes had passed. It was an easy birth on both the mom and baby.  It was a heifer calf and once it had sucked some and started to dry, I decided to weigh it. I always try to guess before I weigh it and see how close I am. On this calf, I guessed it was 90 lbs because the calf is incredibly long bodied. When I put it on the scale, I couldn't believe my eyes.... it was 112 lbs. I thought the scale may be not accurate so I weighed a bad of prepared feed, then weighed a block of salt and it weighed them accurately. I should also mention that this heifer was due to calve on January 19th which is two days from now, so she did not go over term.
I understand that there are some abnormalities from time to time, but if this had been a bull calf, he would have already be wearing a band around his testicles. If I had mentioned on this site that I had a bull calf with a BW of 112 lbs, I know I would have  received a lot of flack. I did not have a single calf weight over 100 lbs in 2018 and the calf born this morning is the heaviest in 4 years here. The last " big" calf I had was 4 years ago, and it was again sired by a trait leader for BW. It was also a heifer calf and it weighed 124 lbs and it did need assistance being born.
My vet just left our farm after euthanizing my wife's two remaining donkeys, who were both suffering from severe arthritis. It was really bad when colder weather set in and we decided to not let them suffer any longer. My vet also has a herd of purebred Angus cows and she mentioned that she had 35 calves in the last 7 days. She also said that she had never seen healthier active calves as this year's crop. The 35 calves her has had were sired by 2 leading AI sires from the US. Both are considered to be lower BW sires. My vet said that they are beautiful calves but they were much bigger than she expected with almost half of them weighing over 100 lbs. All were born unassisted though. I hear this often from friends who raise several different breeds of cattle. I also realize that calves born in Canada weigh more than calves of similar breeding born in the southern US. I live 30 miles from the US border, so the climate here is similar to the climate in several northern US states.
I also understand that my calf born today is just one, so I may have  just had an exception to the rule. But I see similar things more than I think I should.
Just a few months ago, a person who works for a leading breed association mentioned on Facebook that the beef industry was very close to being able to select genetics by their EPDs alone. Needless to say, I had to disagree with him.EPDs may be a great tool providing their accuracy is high, but they are only a tool that can never replace the eye and mind of a good cattleman. I will be interested to hear your comments....
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Online mark tenenbaum

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Re: Birth weight epds and such
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2019, 05:46:07 PM »
Nothing is foolproof-and calving ease does not necessarily equate to the weight of the calf-a long calf that is not wide made and came right out can surprise anyone who actually wieghs them.  O0

Offline aj

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Re: Birth weight epds and such
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2019, 05:47:45 PM »
Shorthorn epds are trash. The Shorthorn breed is currently based on show cattle. i am told that the first thing that show people do is lie about the the date of birth by 3 months........in order to compete. Everybody does it. From that point on........fake birth dates throw every thing off. From there on out everything is trash. I have faith in the larger breeds.......and the quality of input......the numbers of input records. But it is a tool only. It can move a population of cattle one direction or another. It is a guide.
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Offline E6 Durhams

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Re: Birth weight epds and such
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2019, 07:36:31 PM »
Shorthorn epds are trash. The Shorthorn breed is currently based on show cattle. i am told that the first thing that show people do is lie about the the date of birth by 3 months........in order to compete. Everybody does it. From that point on........fake birth dates throw every thing off. From there on out everything is trash. I have faith in the larger breeds.......and the quality of input......the numbers of input records. But it is a tool only. It can move a population of cattle one direction or another. It is a guide.

Why do you even have shorthorns? Just buy more red angus and drink moonshine. All the naysaying you do and you havent produced one bull worth selling semen. That act gets old
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Offline E6 Durhams

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Re: Birth weight epds and such
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2019, 07:39:35 PM »
This whole thread is dejavue for me. Its the same old ****. Blah blah blah. EPDs are bad. Time to put up or shut up. Make something better. The problem with breeding cattle is it takes so long. We can argue until the cows come home. Breed a better animal
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Online mark tenenbaum

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Re: Birth weight epds and such
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2019, 09:38:00 PM »
Breed from what genetic base? The problem is that the only Shorthorns people want are show cattle-They are great for kids etc-As sonn as they are done showing-itd back to Simms and Angus-even Black Limmies-(I actually think that they get no credit-Ive seen some way good ones-as long as they eat a few tranquilizers every day) O0

Offline justintime

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Re: Birth weight epds and such
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2019, 10:39:58 PM »
Breed from what genetic base? The problem is that the only Shorthorns people want are show cattle-They are great for kids etc-As sonn as they are done showing-itd back to Simms and Angus-even Black Limmies-(I actually think that they get no credit-Ive seen some way good ones-as long as they eat a few tranquilizers every day) O0

That may be more true for you in the US but it certainly isn't true for everyone who raises Shorthorns. I have sold out of bulls every year for several years now, and I am not alone in doing this. More and more Shorthorn breeders are selling more and more Shorthorn bulls, and not just giving them away but getting good dollars for them as well. Since we started our own bull sale, we have sold over 90 % of our bulls to commercial producers... and that is what I like to see.  I also don't believe Shorthorn EPDs are total crap either. I don't feel they are totally accurate either. It just takes far too long to see the EPDs move for some traits as there are not enough numbers being submitted. For that matter, I wonder how accurate EPDs are in other breeds as well. I think they are far more accurate in the larger breeds but I really wonder where some breeders get the data they send in, when lots of them don't own a scale. I have visited several farms and I find out they don't have a scale. So where do they get the data they send in?
My vet said today that one of the Angus bulls she used has an actual BW of 78 lbs in the AI catalog, yet she had several purebred Angus calves from him with BWs of 100 lbs or close. Of course the genetics in the dam plays a part but a 25-30 lb spread between sire and his calves does make me scratch my head at times,
This reminds me of my visit with a breeders from the Midwest US who told me that he did not have to weigh calves at birth anymore. He said that after calving his herd of 85 cows for 35 years, he could look at a calf and be within 4-5 lbs of it's birth weight. I find it interesting that this same breeder had 3 or 4 sires that were BW trait leaders. I guess I missed out on getting that gene which would have allowed me to look at a calf and know what it weighs,.
I only started this thread, because I am trying to figure out more about using EPDs. I guess I was just a bit surprised that I would get a 112 lb heifer calf from parents with such low BW EPDs. Maybe it was a unique genetic thing that happened. I have so many questions and I don't have all the answers. As I said, I keep hearing about calves in several breeds being 100 lbs or more and yet when the bull sale catalogs come out the following spring, I never see any BWs close to this. I am sure the realty big calves have been steered but how many aren't. One of my bull buyers runs Shorthorn, Angus and Simmental herd bulls. He has told me he sees little differences in calving issues. Like many commercial operations, I don't think he weighs many calves as he calves on pasture. He also said he would use all Shorthorn bulls but he likes to keep some hybrid vigor in his herd, as it is the only free thing in the business. 
Experience is what you get when you don't have it when you need it.

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Online knabe

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Re: Birth weight epds and such
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2019, 11:47:32 PM »
this thread is why plots of distribution of birth weights is useful.


when an "expert" weighs his cattle by eye, the distribution will be both narrow and skewed to lighter weights.


personally, i would rather buy heavier bw bulls that are more accurate than inaccurate bulls low bw bulls.


I used a bull with a bw epd of 2.2. i had 2 125lb calves, so i quit using him. only 2 out of 180 or so calves were listed as over 100 lbs. all other calves out of these cows were easily under 100.

Offline WinterSpringsFarm

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Re: Birth weight epds and such
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2019, 05:16:33 AM »
Until the beef breeds adopt some type of phenotype EPD like the dairy industry I don't think you'll ever be able to breed solely off of the numbers. Unless you like big numbered cattle and don't care what they look like. I enjoy looking at cattle way to much to spend time looking at trash.

As for BW and CE EPDs, I am cautious about what I read, I feel like there is to much manipulation of data for them to,be totally accurate. I much rather talk to other producers, such as this site, and base my decision on that.

Offline Duncraggan

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Re: Birth weight epds and such
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2019, 02:33:14 PM »
I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments JIT, from experience I have had results all over the place.
My personal views are that nutrition is the biggest determinant of BW and that poor CED values result in dead calves! I think the $CEZ Index Value is an extremely valuable tool when read in conjunction with CED, BW, % Ranked and accuracies.
I think we underestimate the importance of cow and calf shape in the equation. I have had improved/lowered birth mortality since I started looking at cow width across the hook and pin bones, slope between hook and pin bones, as well as the shoulder bone protrusion/prominence, especially when in function/walking. We all are very critical of the bull/genetics we are buying but often overlook the problems on our own farms!
I think we should also look at the EPD spread for BW and CED of the animal's parents, fire and ice matings will produce progeny with the potential for calves all over the spread chart as per knabe's post, and his argument is extremely valid with respect to results skewed in the expert's favour for those that 'eyeball' BW's.
WSF, I hope that Genomic Testing with the enhanced EPD's produced will start catching out the dishonest breeders, slowly but surely!
« Last Edit: January 18, 2019, 02:38:04 PM by Duncraggan »

Online mark tenenbaum

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Re: Birth weight epds and such
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2019, 06:25:47 PM »
Breed from what genetic base? The problem is that the only Shorthorns people want are show cattle-They are great for kids etc-As sonn as they are done showing-itd back to Simms and Angus-even Black Limmies-(I actually think that they get no credit-Ive seen some way good ones-as long as they eat a few tranquilizers every day) O0

That may be more true for you in the US but it certainly isn't true for everyone who raises Shorthorns. I have sold out of bulls every year for several years now, and I am not alone in doing this. More and more Shorthorn breeders are selling more and more Shorthorn bulls, and not just giving them away but getting good dollars for them as well. Since we started our own bull sale, we have sold over 90 % of our bulls to commercial producers... and that is what I like to see.  I also don't believe Shorthorn EPDs are total crap either. I don't feel they are totally accurate either. It just takes far too long to see the EPDs move for some traits as there are not enough numbers being submitted. For that matter, I wonder how accurate EPDs are in other breeds as well. I think they are far more accurate in the larger breeds but I really wonder where some breeders get the data they send in, when lots of them don't own a scale. I have visited several farms and I find out they don't have a scale. So where do they get the data they send in?
My vet said today that one of the Angus bulls she used has an actual BW of 78 lbs in the AI catalog, yet she had several purebred Angus calves from him with BWs of 100 lbs or close. Of course the genetics in the dam plays a part but a 25-30 lb spread between sire and his calves does make me scratch my head at times,
This reminds me of my visit with a breeders from the Midwest US who told me that he did not have to weigh calves at birth anymore. He said that after calving his herd of 85 cows for 35 years, he could look at a calf and be within 4-5 lbs of it's birth weight. I find it interesting that this same breeder had 3 or 4 sires that were BW trait leaders. I guess I missed out on getting that gene which would have allowed me to look at a calf and know what it weighs,.
I only started this thread, because I am trying to figure out more about using EPDs. I guess I was just a bit surprised that I would get a 112 lb heifer calf from parents with such low BW EPDs. Maybe it was a unique genetic thing that happened. I have so many questions and I don't have all the answers. As I said, I keep hearing about calves in several breeds being 100 lbs or more and yet when the bull sale catalogs come out the following spring, I never see any BWs close to this. I am sure the realty big calves have been steered but how many aren't. One of my bull buyers runs Shorthorn, Angus and Simmental herd bulls. He has told me he sees little differences in calving issues. Like many commercial operations, I don't think he weighs many calves as he calves on pasture. He also said he would use all Shorthorn bulls but he likes to keep some hybrid vigor in his herd, as it is the only free thing in the business. //// Unfortuneatly-This thread is more about US genetics and the US market-Which is basically all about black hides-So alot of the purebreds that are not black that are left-ARE SHOW CATTLE-THERE PROBABLY ARE NO MORE THAN 4-5 BREEDERS MAYBE 10-THAT SELL MORE THAN 3-4 bulls a year to commercial breeders-WE ALL KNOW WHO THEY ARE ALREADY-You are in a different world and market than we are, so are all the other cattle Ive seen up there. One example-The SOO-LINE Simms and Angus are beasts compared to whats down here-they are not bred or designed to be heifer bulls for the most part O0

Offline -XBAR-

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Re: Birth weight epds and such
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2019, 07:11:31 PM »
Ive found both BW EPD CE EPD to be very accurate in in shorthorns. WW and YW not so much.

Ive used prolly 20 walking Shorthorn bulls in the past 7 years.  All average or negative BW EPD bulls except one.   The only positive BW EPD Shorthorn bull Ive used had huge birthweights and even worse calving ease.

  You couldnt pay me enough to use a positive BW EPD bull.  Theres no possible upside that warrants having to regularly pull calves.  And unless you have 1500-2000lb cows, youll be pulling those 120+lbers thats WILL inevitably come when using those above average BW EPD bulls.
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Online mark tenenbaum

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Re: Birth weight epds and such
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2019, 11:41:28 AM »
Ive found both BW EPD CE EPD to be very accurate in in shorthorns. WW and YW not so much.

Ive used prolly 20 walking Shorthorn bulls in the past 7 years.  All average or negative BW EPD bulls except one.   The only positive BW EPD Shorthorn bull Ive used had huge birthweights and even worse calving ease.

  You couldnt pay me enough to use a positive BW EPD bull.  Theres no possible upside that warrants having to regularly pull calves.  And unless you have 1500-2000lb cows, youll be pulling those 120+lbers thats WILL inevitably come when using those above average BW EPD bulls.// Its broken record time-  Hopefully the influence of real low BWS will stay in fashion for awhile-and will be a real step forward for real world calving-My guess is that 2 generations are way better than none and the winning cattle have changed very little genetically in the past 15 years.-Even though some of these so-called low bw epd "popular show cattle' list low bw EPDS They eminate from Bulls Like Solution,Salute etc and need to be adjusted WAY UP in any breeding decisions if they are back in the pedigree of either animal O0

Online shortybreeder

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Re: Birth weight epds and such
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2019, 05:36:14 AM »
Nothing is foolproof-and calving ease does not necessarily equate to the weight of the calf-a long calf that is not wide made and came right out can surprise anyone who actually wieghs them.  O0
I believe shape has a lot more to do with CE than BW does. I haven't had a calf out of a non-first calver weigh under 100lbs since I got started in 2012. I also haven't ever pulled a calf from a 3yr old or older cow, and the weights on the scale always seem to surprised me.. Yet I have lost a heifer to a calf with an 80lb BW. I believe the focus should change towards getting cattle with the right shape--not just chasing lower BW. We could argue about a few curve benders all day, but the reality is that--as a whole--when you sacrifice BW you also sacrifice WW and YW performance.

Offline Shorthorn-Fed

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Re: Birth weight epds and such
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2019, 10:18:33 AM »
Nothing is foolproof-and calving ease does not necessarily equate to the weight of the calf-a long calf that is not wide made and came right out can surprise anyone who actually wieghs them.  O0
I believe shape has a lot more to do with CE than BW does.
I agree with you Shortybreeder, we had a whoopsie a couple summers ago and my Diamond Cutter bull ( performance bull with 101lb bw) bred a heifer. When it came time for her to calve  we put her in the barn and figured we would give her a half hour. Went out 20 minutes later to check and she was up licking off a 90lb calf no problems. I will say though she is an Irish Mist female with good hips.
I still believe BW is quite important but shape and length should be a big factor.

Russ
« Last Edit: January 25, 2019, 10:28:39 AM by Shorthorn-Fed »
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