A Cowboy’s Faith: Calving heifers becomes miraculous

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Babies having babies require even more extra care.”

Such a comment is not completely factual but strong semblance all concerns considered.

Modern day proficient cow-calf operators breed replacement heifers as yearlings to calve when they’re two years old.

That’s some different than several generations back when old time cowmen grew their heifers to stronger maturity before breeding.

Today’s efficiency demands reproduction at an earlier age to increase profitability in an operation, making every momma cow more prolific. Doing that requires especial management of that herd replacement from her birth until she has a baby of her own.

Size and maturity are essential ingredients to make the program work. A heifer must grow well herself, and be of sufficient fertility and maturity to be bred. She must settle safe in calf, birth that baby and be momma enough to care for it.

Writing and reading about such might seem simple to a lay person who’s never been there and done that. Yet, calving replacement heifers is a major ordeal requiring highest expertise.

It’s best for replacements to be from a line of known maternal traits on both sides of the pedigree. A momma must be a good producer out of a cow who was also an efficient calf raiser. Daddy is equally important with maternal traits showing through from his dam and grandma. A good cow mated to a good bull should produce a good heifer to advance a progressive cowherd.

Heifers weaning in the upper percentile in growth, size, structure, and quality with a feminine look meet replacement criteria. Maturity is added requirement so the heifer can be mated to a bull at about 15 months of age. She must become impregnated to have her own baby in nine months, nine days, nine hours and nine seconds. That’s by the book for a replacement heifer to have her own baby when she turns two years old.

With proper nutrition matching prolific maternal genetics, the heifer will generally give birth to a baby. Yet many problems can arise during the first birthing requiring careful lookout to be ready to help if necessary.

Then that heifer’s maternal instincts must take hold so she becomes a momma claiming and caring for her young. Nature continues to be so miraculous as bovine generations expand.

Reminded of Psalm 105:3: “Creation of life is His miracle.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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