Calving ease is a feature of our Milking Shorthorn and Dutch Belted bloodlines in general. Their moderate size, medium-to-small bone, and favorable rump structure result in most of our females calving unassisted. We do monitor them in case of malpresentation or unusual size. But we don’t have a habit of checking them during the night, and on the occasion that we do need to assist during calving, we can almost always simply pull by hand.
Nevertheless, for the first breeding of heifers we like to stick to a couple of bulls that have proven themselves to sire consistently small calves, since it is so important to get heifers off to a good start. What we especially like about these sires is that their offspring grow well and are not unusually small as adults.
In the Milking Shorthorn line, we have found Meriville Outstanding-P to give us small calves that are good starters. His daughters are of medium build and have snug udders and good production. Here is one of his daughters during her first lactation.
Cantagree Finocchio N P
We are also starting to use our new Milking Shorthorn bull, Finocchio P, for breeding heifers, because his family has no history of calving difficulty. We used his sire, Lancer-P, the same way with good success. Watch this blog for a detailed post about this promising new bull.
In the Dutch Belted breed, our go-to sire for first calvings is Bestyet Helpful, who has a pattern of siring small calves with the vigor we like to see to get them started. His dam was a phenomenal milk cow with a beautiful udder. Here is a picture of Helpful’s maternal sister.
We have started using one of our new Dutch Belted bulls, Famous-P, on heifers because he and his dam have the kind of build we associate with calving ease, and his sire’s calves have all been born easily on our farm.
We have also used our Dutch Belted bulls Tillamook, Perfect Day, and He-Man for calving ease on heifers with good results.
If you have any questions about what bulls to use in your situation, feel free to reach out and we would be glad to share our experience with the different sires.