Herd Calving Seasons: We try to maintain two calving seasons, Spring and Fall
Spring Season: Jan. to Apr. (with most in a 60 day window)
Fall Season: Sep. to Nov. (with most in a 60 day window)
(Note: Our fall herd was for the most part eliminated in 2006/2007)
A 60 day window allows for the majority of the calves to get down in a mild time of the year with good grass, and stay close in their weaning ages. It also allows for cows and bulls to undergo the breeding pressures of climate and nutritional requirements. Although many commercial breeders and some seedstock breeders will use a 90 or even a 120 day season, we feel that a narrower window helps us to manage our herd better and maintain a herd of top performing animals. However, it should be noted that we do have some calving outside of the window. These animals may be show calves, animals artificially bred, first time heifers, or cattle brought into our program from a different program. Our calving window will also adjust depending on what we are doing with the program that year (ie: flushing, tightning the group, etc.) Rest assured, those animals, with few exceptions, which don't stand up to the demands we place on our cattle, will be sold, culled, or placed into a commercial program with less stringent requirements.
Main Breeding Seasons:
Spring Calvers: Natural breeding from March to June
Fall Calvers: Natural breeding from end of November through February
We try to breed heifers naturally at 14 months of age or 2 weeks prior to main breeding season. Artificial breeding is done from 2 weeks prior, to 2 weeks into the main season. Bulls will clean up artificially bred cows 3 weeks after A.I. service. Heifers and cows out of season will be moved up or pushed to calve into a regular season. With few exceptions, cattle not back in season by their second calf, or miss being bred more than once are sold or culled! That rancher with the year round bull can use em! The 60 day breeding season is included within the months above.
A.I. and Pregnancy Checking:
With a few exceptions all AI'ing of our cattle is done on our farm, by us. I have recieved A.I. and Palp certification and training through COBA in cooperation with Texas A&M.
Most all palping is done on our farm. It is usually about 60 to 90 days after exposure to a bull, or artificial insemenation. If there is any doubt, or a cow is going to be sold in a sale, than the animal is palped by a DVM.
Our breeding program helps to ensure that females with high fertility merits are identified and subsequently kept within our program. Under normal circumstances, if a female has not bred in 60 days by natural service she will be: (based upon her other merits and any other extenduating circumstances), either moved to the next season, rebred immeadiately, sold, or culled. If a female is purchased, or calves on the backside of our calving window, she will be moved up into the window within one or two seasons. If she dosn't move up, and she is not a donor, then she will not stay in the seedstock herd. We will not knowingly sell any animal who we feel has no potential in a seedstock or commercial program. Not only have we reluctantly taken beautiful cattle to the sale barn, but we have purchased cattle for a healthy price, and then sold them into the sale barn for a loss, due to infertility. If you buy a breed age heifer from us, we will guarantee her to breed,.... that is if she is not already safe in calf!
Males: All bulls sold as yearlings will be fertliity tested to ensure adequate motility and correct structure of semen is present. Any bulls identified by a certified DVM, as not meeting industry standard will be culled. Any bulls used in our program that are identified with defects within their semen that are not within industry standards will be culled.
Spring Calves: Usually begins in August
Fall Calves: Usually begins in April
Our calves are usually weaned when the 205 day mark is close to the median of the crop. This allows for the tail end calves to be at or close to 6 months of age. The calves and their mothers are then weighed, measured, vacinated, and "seperated". We don't believe in leaving calves on their mothers until they are 9 or 10 months old. It is hard on the cow and is not conducive to a good commercial program. We also do not wean a calf for the purpose of statistics, then place it back with it's mother. This gives false yearling data, and is not a true and accurate picture of the calf's ability to grow on it's own without mothers milk. Calf weights are reported to the AHA in contemporary groups of males, females and steers. Bull calves not meeting our standards are steered (if not a steer already) and sold as feeder calves. Females not being kept as replacements for our herd will be sold.
Our herd is based upon performance, productivity, and phenotype. The genetics and EPD's will naturally fall in place when we concentrate
on the three "P's". We won't choose an animal soley on their EPD
merits, as these are not only estimations, but they are sometimes
unreliable. If we choose an animal based solely on it's genetics...well
we all know about reccessive genes! Then of course, if we choose
just the best looking animal in the pasture, it may not breed or milk!
Seedstock vs Commercial:
We try not differenciate between the two, as a commercial cattle raiser expects much the same. However, eye appeal, pigmentation, and disposition may be not be the determining factors for some breeders.
We are looking for Individual performance as a calf, heifer and cow. We also want to see the individual and progeny performance of the Sire and Dam. We would like the female to be fertile, calve easy, have good udder attachment, correct frame, and be easy fleshing. We also want to see pigmentation and good disposition. Once the cow is in production, she must calve, breed back and produce a marketable calf each year. Oh and uh...if you ask my wife, she prefers the "darker" color.
Once again we are looking for performance as a calf, yearling, and adult. The bull's calves must come easy, and be good quality. He must settle the cows, maintain his condition, and have good structure. The bull's maternal characteristics passed through his Sire and Dam are also of utmost importance because in the end, we are breeding replacement cattle! Growth potential and carcass merit in the bulls offspring are also important. This allows the commercial cattleman to put pounds into their calves to gain the best profit. A bull used for seedstock purposes should also have some good pigmentation, an easy disposition, and the genetics to back it all up. Of course the bull must be easy fleshing, short sheathed, muscled, and have plenty of "want to"!
Currently, the only bull test we have been using is Kilgore College Bull Test Station, Kilgore, Texas. Unfortunately, they have temporarily discontinued their program. We did have a bull we sold go to a bull test which was mainly for Santa Gertrudis cattle. The new owner needed to have a different breed comparison for the Gerts' new "Five Star Program". The young bulls are placed in the program and are released at or near yearling age. The test station starts them on a 21 day warm up period, then its off and running for 3 consecutive 28 day cycles. At the beginning of the test, the calves are weighed and measured for frame height. They are then weighed again after the initial 21 days, and then again after each 28 day cycle. The test includes an ultrasound for carcuss data, scrotal, and a daily/overall weight gain statistics report. Two age groups of bull calves are taken for each test cycle. The dates are as follows:
Bull Test #1: Usually starts the middle of August and ends the first part of December
Bull Test #2: Usually starts the first part of November and ends the middle of February
Note: The college has terminated it's bull test for an unspecified period of time.
If you are interested in placing a bull in the test, or would just like some
information on the test, facilities, or the program, you can contact:
Bob Young Telphone: (903) 834-6255
Kilgore College Farm Fax: (903) 834-6931
2211 Hwy 135E E-mail:
"There are those out there that would promote the practice of sticking the cows out on the pasture with a year round bull and reap the benifits of the calf crop annually. After all, it sounds more economical, and you might get the added benefit of one or two extra calves in the breeding life of the cow!....right? Unfortunately, this is not a good management practice, as there are many factors to consider. At Double "H" Farms, we use a management program designed to optimize the breeding potential and performance of our cattle, and insure ideal traits are passed through each generation."
We do have some January Show calves!