The Cattle, Our herd
We began our cattle herd August of 2011 with the two 8-month old cattle depicted to the left, CC and Rose. Then, in May of 2012 (9-months later), we traded a miniture horse for an 8-month old Jersey bull which we named Buddy, and began expanding. All cattle we have on the farm are decendents of these two females. We had a total of ten decendents from our first bull, one of which was a grandson. Of the nine direct decendents of Buddy, five were females and four were males.
Our first two cattle were bred at 17-18 months of age, while the rest of Buddy's children were conceived when ever he and the mother saw fit to mate. This proved quite intersting to us as we just let nature take its course. The youngest female we had breed was at 100-days old, another at 127-days old. Both of these heifers calved without issue 284 days later when they were just over a year old. We never had any birthing issues with any of Buddy's decendents, which has caused us some regret in getting rid of him.
Since, we have decided to transistion to a purebred Guernsey herd which we began with a registered bull (Roscoe pictured) purchased September 2015, then followed with two registered heifers puchased January 2016. Our first two births from these registered animals will occur September of 2016. Our other cattle are also bred to this same bull, so we will have some Jersey/Guernsey cross births which will begin in June 2016. We are very excited about this transition. We traded two of our Jersey cattle for the two Guernsey heifers, and will continue to make such trades until we have the purebred Guernsey herd we are looking for. We hope to have this transition complete by the end of 2016.
With the purchase of our second 8-month old bull (Roscoe) in September of 2015, we started a new blood line which we are excited about. We will begin birthing his decendents some time after June of 2016. We never witnessed any breeding to date, but we never did with Buddy either except for once. We only know that five of our six females were in heat when we turned him loose with them, and they were on him like white on rice.
One of the things we have been studying, is to analyze the value of a singe heifer calf. We know from attending auctions, that any calf on the auction block is worth $500 the day it is born. We also know that any heifer calf at a year old is worth $1,400 if she is bred, and always worth that much or more after one birthing, and that the average steered bull calf is worth $1,000 or more at a year old. What caused us to start studying this issue is when we saw people who lost heifer calves as well as the occasional mother due to birthing issues. We began to wonder what the real loss was in dollars.
Here is our analysis to date: Our first of two cows, Rose, has seven decendents, four of which are heifers, and three of which are bulls. This gives her a decendent value of $5,600 in heifers, and $3,000 in bulls plus herself at $1,400 for a total value to date of $10,000. Our other cow has three decendents of which two were bulls worth $2,000, and one was a heifer worth $1,400 for a total value of $4,800. The only difference between the two was that one had heifers and the other had bulls the first two birthings which obviously changed the decendents a great deal. In all however, the total value in those two cows was $14,800 to date for an average value of $7,400. Had we lost either during their first birthing, it would have set us back a great deal in our herd production not to mention the downline loss.
The above equates to an average $2,000 downline value per breeding cycle thus far, where if the average cow is retained for 10 cycles at this rate her total downline value is $20,000 plus her own $1,400 value. So in the end, if we are trying to grow the national herd, the loss of a single female is greater than anyone really considers. Yeah, we know people don't look at it this way, and we also know that each heifer birth increases this value exponentially so as time passes these numbers will increase. Our point is that people underestimate their losses with birthing issues, and the importance of doing something different if you are experiencing these losses.
As time passes, we will keep updating these numbers to reflect our study to-date, whatever to-date is, which we will also keep posted.
Cattle Losses - Since we began with cattle a little more than four years ago (August of 2011), we have had a total of 15 head, 13 of which are descendents of the first two females; the other two were outside bulls. We haven't experienced any birthing issues to date, but we did lose one heifer calf (Kiki) at about 6-months of age due to summer pneumonia. To date, that is a 6% loss rate. For us it was a devestating loss since we don't want to lose any animals at all, especially a heifer. As we studied the potential causes, we have come to no conclulsion, nor figured out any way to prevent the problem in the future. Early recognition and treatment may have a better outcome though we know the outcome with pnuemonia is not usually good. END