Calf growth and maturity are important for any farmer or rancher to understand, no matter how big or small their herd is. There are a few different factors which indicate when a calf has reached maturity, however, these can vary for several reasons.
When a calf is born it will remain with its mother for about 6 months. They are considered calves until they start weaning. At this stage they begin to feed on grass and hay, this is known as the feeding stage. As feeding continues and they grow larger, they enter the growing stage. Usually, cows reach full maturity at the two year mark.
Over the course of two years their stages of growth are as follows:
- Feeder / weaner / grower
- Steers / bulls / cows / heifers
Factors such as breed and nutrition can have an effect on these stages. Let’s take a look at them.
Different breeds of cattle will require different lengths of time to mature. Analyzing the time when a specific breed undergoes puberty is a good reference for how long full maturity will take. It must be said that predicting the exact time that growth and puberty stop is very difficult. In general, breeding a cow should be done after puberty but before full maturity.
In this instance, different breeds have been grouped into areas of origin. Here are the stats of calves reaching puberty in various parts of the world:
- British Cattle reach puberty after between 12-14 months
- Continental European Cattle reach puberty after between 13-15 months
- American Cattle reach puberty after between 14-16 months
Cattle that are not fed a proper diet containing enough nutrition, may take longer to grow than normal. Their growth and maturity time will be delayed which will impact their general health negatively. In more extreme cases, cattle that are very undernourished may never reach full maturity. There is no doubt that poor diet stunts the cattle’s growth. Grass and hay contain the best nutrients for cattle.
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