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Offline librarian

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Head shape calves from 1950s version shorthorn bulls?
« on: April 28, 2021, 08:23:58 AM »
I bought the 1952 Shorthorn World that knabe shared info on. I finally got to looking at it and it was kind of a disturbing moment looking at the photos. I used to think this type animal was what would work in grass finishing- they are bred for early maturing baby beef which is what most grass finishers end up selling, by necessity. Necessity to not graze until the animal is 3 or 4 years old as would yield more meat with better quality. Now, I favor stretchy masculine bulls like a sensible person.
Anyway, the disturbing part was that I had to recognize that, Felix, my Cat 20 bull is this 1950s type. He has the shape, but not the size of Cat 20 and the short wide head we love to love to look at.
I had a calf born dead the other day, I found it on pasture and there was the yellow slime on it that indicates prolonged birth. The calf was small, maybe 55 lbs, and I thought the sire was my red Galloway bull. How strange, I thought, looking at the round head of the calf, the blunt wide nose, Ive never seen this in the calves from that bull, they always come easily. Then I remembered that Felix had also been out in that pasture as a yearling. Maybe he had bred this heifer when the big bull was distracted.
So...old timers, were calving problems related to this round head and wide nose a common problem with the bulls of this 1952 type vintage. I remember Oakview saying something about short heads and feed buckets back in the day.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2021, 08:38:57 AM by librarian »
'Those who do not understand the old will not understand the new'. -farmers quote

Offline oakview

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Re: Head shape calves from 1950s version shorthorn bulls?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2021, 08:53:42 AM »
I guarantee you those old belt buckle cattle were hard calving.  Since most of them back then were horned, we referred to them as square headed.  Every breed was the same.  The first heifer I purchased with my own money was a daughter of Bapton Crusader.  She sure was deep, small, and easy keeping.  Unfortunately, we found her in the creek attempting to calve.  We drug her out of the creek, got the calf, hauled the heifer up to the barn on the flatbed trailer and she never got up.  I was young, inexperienced, and learned a lot that day, the hard way.  Those belt buckle cattle were the hardest calving I've had in 60 years.  The only ones that came close were the Dreamboats.  I used several fullblood Maines over the years, but was fortunate in that I avoided Crack, etc. 

Offline Dale

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Re: Head shape calves from 1950s version shorthorn bulls?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2021, 09:35:31 AM »
Our Scotch-influenced cattle of the 50's and 60's had short wide heads and calved with difficulty too often.  We won a lot of shows back then, and many of them were born with assistance, but we did not own calf pullers then.  Those winners always had lots of thickness and bone.  And some of them had extra growth, for their time, in the late '60's.

Even though Cat 20 had a short wide head, our AI calves from him were born easily.  Our son, TPS Catalyst 45th, also had no calving difficulty.  Polled cattle calved much more easily, even the bigger ones.  Maybe they had flatter shoulders?  The big cows (30's and 40's) that grandpa owned calved easily as far as I know.

History repeats itself.  Breed away from calving difficulty and then forget the lesson, such as in the early '90's.  Create a problem and then solve it. 

Offline knabe

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Re: Head shape calves from 1950s version shorthorn bulls?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2021, 07:17:42 PM »


 Polled cattle calved much more easily, even the bigger ones.  Maybe they had flatter shoulders?



polled cattle generally are frailer, more sausage like made with weaker rear ends.
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Offline Duncraggan

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Re: Head shape calves from 1950s version shorthorn bulls?
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2021, 11:04:26 AM »
I guarantee you those old belt buckle cattle were hard calving.  Since most of them back then were horned, we referred to them as square headed.  Every breed was the same.  The first heifer I purchased with my own money was a daughter of Bapton Crusader.  She sure was deep, small, and easy keeping.  Unfortunately, we found her in the creek attempting to calve.  We drug her out of the creek, got the calf, hauled the heifer up to the barn on the flatbed trailer and she never got up.  I was young, inexperienced, and learned a lot that day, the hard way.  Those belt buckle cattle were the hardest calving I've had in 60 years.  The only ones that came close were the Dreamboats.  I used several fullblood Maines over the years, but was fortunate in that I avoided Crack, etc.
I can imagine that those 'belt buckle cattle' were hard calving, due purely to frame size and shape. From a logical point of view, if you reduce the size of an animal, all dimensions would be reduced, including the pelvic opening size. From the pictures I have seen the cattle looked like square blocks!
oakview, you have many more years experience than me, but I still can't predict by looking at the head shape which of my calves will be horned, or not.
I like to keep horned genetics close, as I believe they have a contribution to make towards the phenotype. JMO

Offline oakview

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Re: Head shape calves from 1950s version shorthorn bulls?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2021, 09:13:38 AM »
You're right.  I can't really predict calving ease from head shape very well, either.  Some of the hardest calving animals I've heard of around here were Holsteins and they certainly didn't have a short, blocky head.  Maybe shoulder structure would be a more accurate clue? 

Offline librarian

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Re: Head shape calves from 1950s version shorthorn bulls?
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2021, 08:05:33 AM »
Our Scotch-influenced cattle of the 50's and 60's had short wide heads and calved with difficulty too often.  We won a lot of shows back then, and many of them were born with assistance, but we did not own calf pullers then.  Those winners always had lots of thickness and bone.  And some of them had extra growth, for their time, in the late '60's.

Even though Cat 20 had a short wide head, our AI calves from him were born easily.  Our son, TPS Catalyst 45th, also had no calving difficulty.  Polled cattle calved much more easily, even the bigger ones.  Maybe they had flatter shoulders?  The big cows (30's and 40's) that grandpa owned calved easily as far as I know.

History repeats itself.  Breed away from calving difficulty and then forget the lesson, such as in the early '90's.  Create a problem and then solve it. 

Thanks for your remarks on this.
It turns out the Cat 20 ( Weston Resource, Cat 20, Haumont) Shorthorn bull was not the sire of the unfortunate calf...so Felix is innocent and will go on pasture to breed this year as planned.
When I finally was able to determine which heifer lost the calf (the others have since calved) it was clear that the dam is fullblood Shorthorn ( half sister to Felix)  The calf was most definitely at least half Galloway (very shaggy) so no way was Felix the sire. I had bred that heifer Galloway for calving ease! Sometimes you cant win.
Im glad to hear that about horns because I have my eye on a dandy horned bull calf
(YY Glasgow x Bonanza x Cherry Filet) that would keep some of my genetics tied together in the future and add something extra.
'Those who do not understand the old will not understand the new'. -farmers quote

Offline knabe

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Re: Head shape calves from 1950s version shorthorn bulls?
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2021, 10:32:33 AM »
Maybe shoulder structure would be a more accurate clue?


straight shoulders mean legs can't flatten forward making the calf more of a vertical obstacle coming through the chute. i'd venture to say this is probably the most underestimated trait for calving ease[size=78%].[/size]
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