Author Topic: Natural Breeding Age  (Read 10587 times)

Offline KevinC

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Natural Breeding Age
« on: July 17, 2010, 03:55:11 PM »
Hi all -

As previously mentioned, a week ago we purchased (4) open heifers. All are between 11 and 12 months old now.  They were in an open herd with their father.

If these were Angus, they all would have breed to their father by now (*side story), but my understanding is that Highland Heifers come in to their first heat later?  How much "later" is that typically?

Kevin

*side story:  Although unusual, we had a 5 month old Angus heifer breed.  She died trying to give birth to an estimated 100lb calf - poor thing didn't have a chance.

Offline Coble_Highland_Ranch

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Re: Natural Breeding Age
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2010, 06:59:45 PM »
Hi Kevin,

We had this "problem" here at Coble Highland Ranch, also. We bought a herd of 7 Highlands (6 heifers and 1 bull). I have always been raised around Angus and other cattle and thought for sure these heifers (the youngest being a yearling) should be of breeding age. Needless to say, I took them to the vet for preg checks after several months of having them. We sold the bull after finding out that none were pregnant. (9 months later, however, we have one of his calves on the ground. That's a different story, though). The youngest, who is a little over two, just came into heat and we witnessed her breeding. Lilly (who was born October 2007) just got bred this past month. From what we have researched, Highlands are just slow maturing. So, bottom line, I would think they they have a little longer to go before their first heat. I hope this helps and if you have any other questions, feel free to ask!
Please visit us at www.coblehighlandranch.com for Scottish Highlanders for sale and all your website needs.

Offline KevinC

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Re: Natural Breeding Age
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2010, 07:17:36 PM »
Naturally, my first concern is the health of the heifer - I NEVER want a repeat of what happened to occur on my farm again.

I have posted a poll in the general discussion section, please vote and lets see what folks experience is.

Kevin

Offline YoungSproutFarms

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Re: Natural Breeding Age
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2010, 12:26:09 AM »
I am a newbie with cattle, but my understanding is that Highland Heifers breed at two, but they are not mature cows till three. A bull will breed at a little over one year, but is not mature until 4 years old.

My heifers were a year and a half old when we got our 6 month old bull. That was last year and one heifer I know is pregnant and the other two maybe as well. Next month I take them in for testing.
Glenn Young
Young Sprout Farms - Tyler TX
www.YoungSproutFarms.com

Offline rmuntz

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Re: Natural Breeding Age
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2010, 01:02:50 PM »
Please resist the temptation to breed early.  The heifer is still growing at a year, and will not attain her full size until two.  If you want a cow that will serve you for many years, wait until she is two.  We have had two cows accidentally bred at a year with no problems.  One is still small at six.  Was she stunted by the early calf?  Don't know, but it is not worth the possibility of problems. 

Offline KevinC

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Re: Natural Breeding Age
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2010, 03:26:44 PM »
My major concern is accidental breeding by having the young heifers in with the main Angus herd (complete with bull).  For now, I have a neighbor keeping mine so that there is a field between them.  However, if they won't breed until age two, I should be safe.  My concern is the "should" - having lost a 14 month old Angus to a 100lb calf (yeah, she bread at 5 months!!!  I never want that to happen again).

Offline SoutharkRob

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Re: Natural Breeding Age
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2010, 04:55:13 PM »
We bought 4 6 month old heifers and a 1 year old bull from Dr Cameron in April of 08 and they have been in the pasture with the bull the whole time and we had our first calf from them on June 20th of this year...he has been seen chasing the other ones also and they are showing signs of calves.. Our oldest cow had a angus and highland cross (bred when we got her) and she bred right back and has 2 calves on the ground.

Offline Red Willow

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Re: Natural Breeding Age
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2010, 10:39:13 PM »
Concerning breeding ages and maturity of Highland cattle will definitely vary.
I have raised Highlands for twenty years and found that they can come into season as early as 14 months and if you have a young yearling bull with them, yes they will breed and settle, end result a calf.
Most times the calves are small and you should be able to tell when your heifer is bred and that she will swell up on the back end and her milk bag and teats will become visible, you definitely should supplement the heifer and also watch her so you can be aware of calving.  I have never had to help a Highland have a calf, but a first calf heifer isn't always ready to know what to do with the calf, so to keeping the other cows and animals away is an excellent idea.  This gives the cow and calf time to bond and the calf can nurse.

Yes, waiting to breed Highland heifers until they are two years old is the best way for your heifer to mature and help her reproductive organs to be stronger.  Concerning maturity of Highlands, they mature slowly and are a mature animal at age seven.  That is for both cows and bulls.  This is when they will have their most weight and continue to reproduce for more years.  I had an 18 year old cow reproduce and she died at age 20.  My oldest bull that was still breeding was age 14.  The last two years he only bred a few cows, but they were my mature cows all over ten years old. 
I also had a thirteen month old bull breed nine of my mature cows one year.  I think they stood on a slant, but he got the job done. 
If your heifer gets bred to young, sometimes that can stunt the growth of the animal.  If bred young, giving them some supplements helps when they are young.

Offline KevinC

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Re: Natural Breeding Age
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2010, 08:52:12 PM »
Thanks all.  Mine are all between 11 and 12 months right now.  We are keeping one field between them and the Angus herd until we return the bull - just to be safe.  Still, cattle don't always respect fences.  Still, it sound like even if they do get out, we should be ok.

Cheers,

Kevin

Offline Sherri

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Re: Natural Breeding Age
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2010, 10:04:06 AM »
We have definitely seen Highland heifers come into estrus prior to attaining 12 months of age.   Also, we knew a Highland breeder who accidentally allowed 2 six month old heifers to get bred.   The result was very expensived C-sections to save the heifers at birthing time (which is 9 months and about 8 days after breeding).

Offline YoungSproutFarms

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Re: Natural Breeding Age
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2011, 04:52:39 PM »
Ok, after reading all the responses, I understand waiting until at least 2 years to breed a heifer. three years is the preferred age to breed them.

Reading a Highland heifer can come into season at an earlier age.

I just found one of my yearlings, 19 months old, just aborted a calf. Not sure why, but see it as a blessing. I did not want her pregnant yet. She needs to grow more.

Question: At what age do you separate the young heifers from the herd. I was thinking at maybe 15 months of age ...... Really do not want problems like that.
Glenn Young
Young Sprout Farms - Tyler TX
www.YoungSproutFarms.com

Offline KevinC

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Re: Natural Breeding Age
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2011, 10:33:03 AM »
Apparently this varies by animal, but we had a 2 year old JUMP a fence to find a bull.  Three of her sisters didn't.  Wishing I had a mature bull in there - rather have had her breed to another Highland a year earlier than planned vs. breeding to an Angus.  On the other hand, next springs calf should grow like crazy compliments of the hybred vigor - and I'm told Highland/Angus crosses are excellent eating.