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Cattle Breeding

  • 22-02-2023 8:39am
    Registered Users Posts: 827 ✭✭✭

    I'm interested in learning about cattle breeding and what makes a good cow or calf and what the different mixes mean.

    If you have a limousine cow and you put with a limousine bull, would that give better results than say a Simmental cow with limousine bull?

    What makes a good cow for breeding? Long? Tall? Or other traits?

    A lot of cattle are cross breds, i.e they might be sire Limousine with Dam Angus and they give birth to say a calf with sire Belgium Blue with dam it all about the bull for the type of animal they will produce? i.e it'll be 50% BB with 25% Angus and 25% Limousine

    Can you cross breed every breed or is there some that wouldn't be suited to each other?

    I heard someone say Charlaois's are bigger animals so a CH bull might add size to a breed that might have a lot of milk which would be a good mix.

    What are typical traits for all the different breeds?

    I can't seem to think of many farms around with BB cows, are these not good for breeding? Why not?

    I heard someone else mention cows with white heads are popular, why would the white head make a difference?


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,894 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey

    I've got two BB cows. They would be known to have a narrow pelvis so would not suit some of the larger bulls. However, there is a lot more getting their heifers pelvic scored to determine their suitability for breeding with those that aren't suitable going for beef instead.

    What you want from a cow depends. I prefer smaller cows around 650kg, good temperament and good teats (small & neat), sufficient milk that is capable of maintaining good body condition. Others prefer the large stylish cows like what you would see at the Jalex sales. Some traits you will only understand after they have reared a calf so the main things is to cull cows that do not please you on a continual basis. You'll not get it right straight out of the box. For suckler/beef system I would avoid anything with Holstein breeding in it as they can produce tall, leggy calves with poor frame.

    Some cows and bulls just 'click' in terms of the progeny. What you are really looking for is to produce small calf that is independent quickly and has good growth rate. Less stress on the cow meaning she has a longer productive life and good calves to sell at the end of it.

    Cross breeding is good as it introduces hybrid vigour into the calves. It also allows you to try to pair the advantages of both breeds. However, it is not a given that the calf will inherit these - it's not that simple!

    What you pair is a tricky question and not one that has a standard answer. A lot depends on your own preferences, what sells well at your mart options or grades well at factory if you are running them on that long.

    I would say a lot of part time farmers would avoid Charolais bulls as their calves do have a tendency to be large and dopey at birth and take a bit of work to get going. However, the adv of them is that they are good sellers. Lim would be a popular choice as they have more lines which have easy calving ability and still sell well - although sometimes their calves can be a bit flighty. BB would mainly be used by the diary folk.

    Really the breed is immaterial otherwise. Each breeds would have 'lines' which you may want to target or avoid - some would have temperament issues, poor/good milkers, growth rates etc. Essentially, what you want is to be looking at the EBV's of the bull's and selecting them based on the best match for your cow and what you want to achieve.

    Are you using AI or running a bull? The default answer is probably to get an easy calving Limousin as your bull or AI straws. It will work with the majority of breeds and give you something to sell in the mart that majority of buyers would be interested in.

    I've not run any of the other breeds so I'll leave others to speak up for them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 827 ✭✭✭farmingquestion

    Thanks for the detailed answer, great information :)

    Regarding choosing, I hear a lot of people choose EBY but if I look at the ICBF site, I can see there's another bull with a much higher replacement index and terminal index, LM2014.

    Why would someone choose EBY over LM2014 when it seems to rank behind on most metrics?

    I'm not doing this myself right now but want to eventually.

  • Registered Users Posts: 266 ✭✭golodge

    I use quite many of breeds, only crossbreeding yet. Only one pure lim cow for now. Current used breeds list would look like this: angus, limousine, charolais, simmental, hereford, blue, blonde, parthenaise, salers, gasconne, bazadaise, dutch improved red, inra95, piedmontese. Currently have maine anjou on a hold in the tank. Our all herd comes from dairy background, like grandmothers being 25-100%. Each breed has something to offer, but it mostly matters on what kind of bull you will get to use. As it was already stated above there are lines in every breed. Those can be extremely different one from another. There are some main traits of every breed, but there could be found individuals with almost any other trait you would like.

    Some crosses do work and some don't. But you have to know your herd first and you do need to choose breeds by your needs and your availability at the farm. Some breeds can need more attention at the calving, some can pretty much calve themselves all the time, except for wrong possition or some other abnormalities.

    Have one limxcharolaisx dairy cow. Her lim sired calves don't grow. Have used different bulls, but they can have a lovely shape, but won't have growth. Give her any other breed and her calf will be one of the biggest at the weaning.

    My perfect picture of cow- good calver, easy to handle and no character problems, good shape udder and teats, plenty of milk to grow a good calf, good feet, good fertility and producing a good quality calf every year. Current herd average weight is around 700-750kg. There are a couple at around 550kg, but I need to be abit more thoughtful about sellection of bulls for those, so I always need to have a safer option if all other bulls I've at that moment are for abit bigger cows.

    White headed cows are usually good calvers with plenty of milk, so can grow a heavy weanling and usually have good fertility.

    Alot of good points were mentioned above, so don't want to repeat.

    About the bulls... Not familiar personally with those two, but to me it looks more of a popularity and marketing thing. But I could be wrong, maybe somebody closer related will comment on that. However, I have used some other bulls from England and they are not that heavily used there, but one bull, which actually is even less popular, gave me some real good and consistent calves. I'm really surprised why he is not more popular. Some other bulls with the same herd name are more widely known, but the one I used was one of my favorite bulls I've ever had experience with.