Our 2014 calvingRSS feed

Posted: Sunday 8 June, 2014

by Rosemary Champion at 10:10am in Cattle 3 comments Comments closed

Well, our 2014 calving is complete (acually, it was complete a couple of weeks ago but I haven't had time to write it up until now) - and it was over pretty quickly :-)

Regular readers will know that we bought two Shetland heifers as weaned calves in 2010 - Breeze and Blizzard - who had a bullock and a heifer respectively in 2012 and the reverse in 2013. Last spring we bought an August 2012 born bull calf (Storm) and used him on the two cows and Blizzard's 2012 daughter, Annie.

Storm was put in with the cows on 12th August, so according to "the chart", the earliest calving date was 22nd May. We had the cows scanned by our vet five weeks after the bull was taken out - all in calf and he said they all looked about the same stage of pregnancy.

Well, he was spot on. Blizzard had a dun and white bull calf (Hamish) on 23rd May; Annie had a red and white heifer (Rosedean Umber or Rosie) on 24th May and Breeze had a dun and white heifer (Rosedean Usquebaugh or Sunny) on 25th May.

All are BCMS notified and the two heifers are registered in the Shetland Cattle Herd Book. Only the application to the Scottish Beef Scheme to be done now, but the calves have to be 30 days old for that.

All three cows calved without any assistance from me, although I did call the vet to see how long I should leave Annie before I started to worry (well, I was anxious anyway :-) ). Her waters broke at 3pm; I had checked and there were two feet and a nose but by 4pm, there was nothing and she didn't seem to be trying very hard. I could see the feet coming out then disappearing again, out and back. The vet said to wait until at least 5pm before worrying and at 4.45pm, Annie gave a big heave and there was the calf :-)

2014 Shetland calvesHamish, Rosie and Sunny.

This year, I just left the cows to get on with things, once I checked that the calves were breathing. It's taken me a couple of seasons to realise that cows aren't sheep with four teats. Their behaviour is quite different. Once the calves are licked and standing, the cows and calves seem to have a snooze before the first feed. So I just chilled (well, sort of :-))

So I need to start thinking about next year. Usual practice is to put the bull out 60 days after calving, to allow the cows to start cycling again and with the aim of calving every twelve months. This would be about 27th July and would give an earliest calving of 6th May. However, Bonnie, Breeze's 2013 heifer, will go to the bull this year and she's not two years old until 13th June 2015, although Annie was a month shy of her second birthday when she calved and she seems absolutely fine.

So I'm thinking that I'll put him out around 12th August again this year and hope that he gets the job done as quickly as he did this year. I'll leave him out for 7 weeks / 49 days, until 22nd September, giving each cow two cycles (based on a 21 day cycle) than he's going to slaughter.

Storm, Shetland bullStorm.

When we get the cows scanned w/c 27th October, we'll get the two wee heifers jagged (just in case), Hamish castrated (no flies in October) and the BVD tests done - result!

Good plan - hope it works :-)



Sunday 8 June, 2014 at 9:23pm

congratulations . great to hear all went well.

David Murphy

Monday 9 June, 2014 at 3:32pm

Can you not sell Storm as a stock bull?


Monday 9 June, 2014 at 4:29pm

There are two reasons for not selling him as a stock bull.

Firstly, the breed society and RBST are very keen that any one bull is not overused and that only a very limited number of sons are kept for breeding. Because the Shetland is so rare, it's relatively easy to create a genetic log jam. It has happened before - particularly when rare-coloured bulls have been born. Also my cows have a %age of bulls that caused the genetic log jam in their pedigrees, so any bulls from them and Storm (who also has some of the same lines) are not the best for breeding.

Secondly, it's economics. Storm at 25months is worth more on the hook than on the hoof, prices for Shetlands being what they are. There's no shortage of young bulls of good genetics to replace him so there's really only one logical outcome for him.

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