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IMPRESSIONS We   just   had   our   #30   MAGIC50 heifer   calf   born,   so   here   are   all our   observations,   good   as   bad,   of three   years   working   with   these wonderful   50%   Gir   crosses.   I   will try   to   be   as   objective   as   possible and    some    of    their    peculiarities might   not   be   a   feature   of   the   Gir breed   as   such,   but   of   their   sire C.A. Sansão , as only he was used: -   Gestation   length   on   average   is much     longer     than     any     other breed   we   have   used   so   far,   most MAGIC50   calves   were   born   from 287 to 296 days! -   Despite   of   this   most   calvings were   easy,   except   calves   born   to Fleckvieh   cross   heifers   or   under- age   heifers   of   very   high   percent Bos Taurus breeding  
-   Long   ears   &   quite   prominent   Bos   Indicus   looks   are   their   trademark,   large   udders and low foot angle should be watched out for and corrected in MAGIC25! -   Growth   rate   especially   for   bulls   is   exceptional,   some   MAGIC50   bulls   out-weight their same age 50% Fleckvieh herd mates by 100kg when 18 months old -   First   heat   on   average   is   quite   late.   Although   we   managed   to   serve   a   couple   at our target age of 15 months old, many haven’t cycled yet at two years of age! -   Often   heat   signs   are   only   expressed   very   poorly.   Especially   “standing   when mounted”   is   hardly   ever   seen.   Maybe   they   not   only   share   their   long   ears   with   the donkey,   but   their   mating   ritual   as   well   and   need   to   be   chased   down   to   total exhaustion   before   letting   anybody   mount   them...   This   for   me   personally   is   the greatest drawback, as I still love to continue to do AI with the worlds best sires!  
-   Temperament   is   much   better   and   more   placid   than   I   expected,   some   few   are   extremely   shy   to   the   point   of   bolting   to the   end   of   the   farm   when   encountering   strange   humans   (which   definitely   is   of   great   advantage   in   Africa   and   probably Latin America, too, to prevent them from being poached...). But all agreed to be milked. -   Of   all   our   heifers   that   have   calved   during   the   last   two   years   the   12   absolute   leaders   in   milk   production   were   MAGIC50 heifers,   but   so   were   the   3   total   disasters.   Those   three   we   didn’t   even   manage   to   get   to   10   liters   per   day.   I   suspect   this   to be   caused   by   insufficient   milk   let   down   in   the   early   stages   of   their   lactation.   Two   of   the   three   also   had   a   dam   with   over 50% Sahiwal blood, so maybe their Bos Indicus percentage was just too great. -   Their   strangest   habit   is   that   of   actively   drinking   each   other’s   urine.   Some   cows   spend   hours   licking   and   stimulating others   (and   this   should   not   be   mistaken   for   a   secondary   heat   sign!)   to   cause   them   to   urinate,   after   which   they   try   to drink   as   much   urine   as   possible   before   it   touches   the   ground.   Whether   they   had   such   great   scarcity   of   drinking   water where   they   evolved,   or   whether   they   utilize   the   nitrogen   present   in   the   urine   in   much   the   same   way   as   when   urea   is   added to their feed rations, is a mystery to me. What a wonderful research subject for all you veterinarians to be out there!!! -   Once   they   are   milking   they   put   all   their   energy   and   effort   into   milk   production.   They   kind   of   remind   me   of,   actually   even resemble   dairy   goats   at   that   stage   (especially   those   with   a   higher   percentage   of   Jersey   blood   in   their   breeding),   gaunt and   skinny   and   not   really   pleasant   to   look   at.   But   you   really   forget   about   their   unfavourable   looks   when   you   see   your   milk bucket fill up and up and up... And miraculously their fertility is not impaired in any way by their loss of body condition! -   As   you   can   beautifully   see   in   the   two   pictures   below,   their   grazing   habits   are   quite   different   from   all   the   other   cross bred   cows   we   have:      When   conditions   are   perfect,   they   are   full   and   satisfied   and   resting   much   earlier   and   longer   while everybody   else   is   still   scrambling   for   those   few   new   leaves   of   grass.   The   rest   of   the   time,   when   it   is   really   dry   and   hot and   dusty,   they   keep   feeding   while   everybody   else   is   hiding   out   under   the   few   shade   trees   available.   While   the   rest   of   the herd   would   rather   die   of   starvation   than   risk   leaving   the   shade   to   scratch   up   the   last   scraps   of   dung   contaminated   straw, our MAGIC50 spend hours doing just that to keep looking nice and well fed at the worst of times! What a wonderful cow for Africa!!!
CONCLUSION While   MAGIC50   already   have   much   better   attributes   than   most   of   the   cattle   we   have   previously bred,   indisputably   there   are   some   major   shortcomings.   But   they   only   are   the   first   step   on   the long   way   to   true   MAGIC!   We   will   use   the   best   MAGIC50   bulls   on   our   non-Gir   cross-bred   cows and   many   MAGIC50   cows   and   heifers   will   hopefully   calve   to   some   of   the   best   international   sires. These   then   will   be   the   MAGIC25   foundation   for   the   MAGIC   breed.   What   a   great   challenge   lies ahead of us to combine all their great qualities without carrying over any of their disadvantages! P.S.: Some new insights: -   All   three   “total   disaster”   heifers   proved   to   be   very   much   o.k.   in   their   second   lactation,   so   low production in  their first lactation was definitely a problem of insufficient milk-let-down! -   After   having   done   some   extensive   reading   and   research   I   have   come   to   the   conclusion   that   the poor   or   non-observable   heat   symptoms   (although   present   in   some   of   the   MAGIC50   females)   are not   the   main   issue.   Gir   and   their   high   percentage   crosses   seem   to   naturally   take   extremely   long to come on heat after parturition. Simply can’t be compared to Bos Taurus cows!
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