Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Shetland cattle breeding  (Read 3053 times)


  • Joined Apr 2023
Shetland cattle breeding
« on: April 16, 2023, 12:21:11 pm »
I have a Shetland herd. We have had our black&white bull (Beano) for 10 years he has sired 24 calves, all of them B&W.

Last year I got a new red bull (Hagrid) born 4/4/22.  Jubilee, one of our original cows (8 calves up to last year all B&W) was put out with the herd after calving on 19/5/22 on the 10/7/22.

Yesterday, the 15/4/23 Jubilee calved a red calf!!

Given both bulls were in the field when she joined them who is the dad? Hagrid was a little over 14 weeks old? She must have been covered very quickly given the dates.

Technically Hagrid was much too young but it's hard to believe Beano can finally throw a red calf after all these years. If he has it's quite a coincidence.

Any views?


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Shetland cattle breeding
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2023, 04:25:57 pm »
From a quick Google, puberty in bulls happens around 11 months of age. Shetlands do mature quickly but I would doubt whether Hagrid, at 14 weeks, is the daddy. He was awful wee to be away from his mammy?

We had a bull work successfully a week short of his first birthday but I can't see a three month old calf being ALLOWED by the senior bull to get anywhere near an ovulating cow, and while lust finds a way, I can't see that Hagrid could reach. Fourteen weeks is just a baby.
Colour genetics is complicated and I am far from being an expert. Ruth Dalton is the most knowleageable person I know on colour genetics in Shetlands. As far as I understand, red is recessive so both parents must carry the gene and the calf must get red form each aren"t - if she's had 8 calves, there's a 25% chance of a red calf, simply by chance. She's just bucked the odds, if the calf is Beano's.

If you have doubts about the parentage, you shoudl have a DNA test done before registering the calf.


  • Joined Apr 2023
Re: Shetland cattle breeding
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2023, 08:08:59 am »
Thanks for the reply. He did move with his mum and I agree with you on your response. 14 weeks is far too young for it to have been him and he wouldn't have been able to reach anyway. Even now he is 1 year old, Beano the senior bull won't let him near any cow in season. He will get his chance. Beano was 10 months old and had been with the herd 6 months when he got his first heifer in calf. With no competition. Just hate coincidences!


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