Raising the right size for better efficiency and profit for small farms
There have been many recent articles related to what is the best size for cows that makes the most economical sense. There have been some weights stated that could be ideal for economical reasons. They seem to range between 800 - 1200 lbs according to what the goals and objectives of the breeder are. Three common goals/objectives that make a lot of sense are.
Cow/calf weaning weight ratio
Calf weaning weight
Calving ease is an obvious goal selection. If a cow will have trouble calving and possibly lose the calf and die herself, there are relatively no good economical advantages. A small cow having birthing trouble with a low birth weight calf is no better than a big cow having birthing trouble with a high birth weight calf. The importance is having cows that have little to no trouble calving.
Cow/calf weaning weight ratio is a great goal/objective to shoot for. The objective is to get as much calf weight at the time of weaning related to the size of the cow. Larger cows require more feed to maintain their body and nurse their calf. Research has shown that there is a weight point where you are not getting more calf for the feed required for the cow. Many research articles indicate breeders should have a goal/objective of having at least a 50% ratio of the calf’s weaning weight (200 days) compared to the cows weight. Below 50% is not good and 50% and higher is better.
Calf weaning weight is another great goal/objective if you want to be able to financially justify the cattle you are raising. If you are just raising them for pet farm animals or personal/family beef supply then you set your goal/objectives according to what makes you happy. Mini Herefords and Lowline Angus are beef cattle breeds and need to be able to hold their own in the industry. We have heard several breeders having concern that they can’t carry their steers to a commercial sale barn because they can’t get a decent price for their smaller size animals. That is why we believe it is important to consider a weaning weight goal/objective that will not eliminate the possibility of carrying a steer to the local sale barn and getting a decent price. Many breeders will take their steers to the sale barn around 7 months or weaning age. We would like to have a goal of around 400-450 lbs or higher for 7 month old steers.
One of our young, powerful Red Lowline heifers. She weighed 550 lbs at 8 months old. She was 40 inches tall at 16 months old.