Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Animal Husbandry

Major Professor

Charles S. Hobbs

Committee Members

Harold J. Smith, M. A. Sharp, L. N. Skold


There are many different views among herdsmen as to when a calf should be given extra milk from a nurse cow and as to how long a calf should be given extra milk. Some show calves are started on extra milk at a few days of age, while others are started from a few days to five to seven months of age. Some of the reasons for this wide variation in the age at which calves are started on nurse cows are: 1) a few breeders want to breed some top producing cows as quickly after calving as possible 2) poor milking cows; 3) variation in herdsman’s ideas on how to develop show calves; 4) variations in feeding and management conditions; 5) herdsmen sometimes misjudge a show prospect at an early age; and 6) cost of labor and extra cost of keeping a nurse cow.

Where cattle are highly fitted for livestock shows or sales, the cost is much higher than the usual cost of developing animals for a breeding herd. However, it should be realized that the purpose is different. Cattle developed for shows are considered the "show window" of the herd. The added expense is considered by most breeders as part of the cost of an educational and advertising program.

There are many opinions as to the difficulties and hazards involved in producing highly fitted cattle and then using them for breeding purposes. Some cattlemen believe that highly fitted heifers or bulls are "slow" or "hard" breeders and that many overly fat heifers are hard to "settle”. Bulls are so fat that they are often slow breeders and often clumsy. Observations are that over-feeding cattle may affect the feet, causing excessive growing out of the toes, especially if the cattle are confined to email areas. "Corns" or "quitters" may develop between the toes, become painful and may cause slow "breeders" in the bulls. Some breeders and herdsmen believe that heifers that are very fat at time of calving often have difficulty and may have small calves. Many breeders believe that highly fitted heifers are poor milkers because of excess fat. Some herdsmen believe that highly fitted show heifers have very definitely retarded milk supply during the first lactation period, but that milking qualities may adjust to normal after the second or third calves

Observations indicate that “rustling" ability and activity of highly fitted heifers or cows are reduced. Thus, highly fitted cattle may not do as well as others where there is considerable competition for the feed supply. Likewise, some herdsmen feel that feeding and feeding practices re-suiting in excessive condition in cattle shorten their productive life.

Feeding and fitting cattle for shows or sales, either with nurse cows and concentrate feeds or with concentrate feeds alone, produces an extra amount of weight and condition for the animal to carry above that considered satisfactory for normal productivity and reproduction. How much of this extra weight the brood cow needs and whether or not it has any harmful effects throughout the productive life is of concern to breeders and livestock men. The excessive accumulation of fat within the body tissue may also have harmful effects.

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