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- The optimal time for calving is dependent on the particular conditions on your farm or ranch. Factors such as available labor, facilities, historical weather conditions, cow numbers, forage resources, marketing plans and competing enterprises at calving time all play a part in determining the most appropriate time of calving.
- Calving patterns reflect the management of the operation. In the first 21 days of the calving season, 70% of the calves should be born. In the first 42 days, 85% of the calves should be born. The remainder of calves should be born by the end of the third cycle. Extended calving seasons reduce net returns. Cow nutrition, diseases and bull fertility influence the calving pattern.
- The feeding program of the cow prior to calving will influence the health of her calf. Thin animals have a higher incidence of calving difficulty and lower quality colostrum. Milk production is dramatically lower in thin cows compared to cows in good condition.
- Feed intake will increase for the first 12 weeks of lactation. Milk production peaks at eight weeks. Matching calving dates to forage availability will improve production efficiency.
- Calves born later in the calving season are lighter in the fall than calves born earlier in the season. On average, a calf gains between 1.5 to 2.25 pounds per day from birth to weaning. Earlier born calves are not only older but have higher daily gains.
- Mothers of later born calves require less harvested energy and protein that mothers of earlier born calves.
- Usually earlier calving herds require more labor and facilities per cow than herds calving later.
- The disadvantages of lighter weaning weights of later born calves are minimized by retaining ownership of those calves through subsequent backgrounding programs.
- Market options of heavier weaned calves are less than lighter weaned calves. Heavier weaned calves are more answerable to slaughter prices than lighter calves. However, lighter weaned calf prices are more susceptible to current feed costs.
- Earlier calving allows the operator to wean earlier to stretch fall pasture resources.
- Earlier calving places the cows in a later stage of milk production in the fall, better matching depleting forage reserves. However, later calving better fits the cow’s milk production curve in the summer with available pasture resources. If quality fall pasture exists, later calving better matches to cow’s milk production curve and subsequent milk output.
Calving Date Considerations - availabe in PDF format only
Effect of Calving Time and Weaning Time on Feedlot Performance - a preliminary report - available in PDF format only
June Versus March Calving for the Nebraska Sandhills: Economic Comparisons
June Versus March Calving for the Nebraska Sandhills: Production Traits
Time of Calving and Feed Strategy Effects on Performance of Feeder Steers - available in PDF format only
Effect of Two Calving Systems on Cow and Calf Performance in Western Canada - available in PDF format only
Evaluation of Year-round Forage Management Systems for Spring-and Fall-Calving Beef Cows - available in PDF format only
The effects of spring versus summer calving on beef cattle reproductive and growth performance in western Canada - available in PDF format only
Let us know of more good research papers on this topic.