Spring calving vs fall calving

Got a calving or breeding question? Get an answer.
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Re: Spring calving vs fall calving

Post by Bright Raven » Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:39 pm

There is no definitive answer. I like a tight calving season. Two reasons:
1. Calves are a uniform group.
2. You are not on calving watch all year.

I chose fall. September/October. Usually, a time of nice weather. By the time winter sets in, the calves have some age and mass to withstand bad weather better. The downside is that the cows are going into a period when their diet is switching to hay and pasture is limited. It can drag some cows down. My cows handle it well even when I have marginal hay. It does tend to pull down the first time calvers. I creep feed my calves which compensates for the stress on the heifers/cows.

At the end of the day, my calves and cows come through fall calving very well. The cows hold condition and the calves are healthy and vigorous.


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Re: Spring calving vs fall calving

Post by holm25 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:59 pm

We prefer spring. We usually start end of March and are done middle of April. By the time good grass is growing calves are eating.. We are in MN..

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Re: Spring calving vs fall calving

Post by True Grit Farms » Thu Mar 28, 2019 4:40 pm

I prefer early fall calving. Spring prices on adverage seem to be better and I have the cows out of the woods. Nutrition is easier to manipulate then the weather.
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Re: Spring calving vs fall calving

Post by TCRanch » Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:47 pm

I prefer Spring. The calves just seem thriftier, I like them grazing the green grass. I wean in Oct & always have the option of holding them over the winter & letting them graze the brome field, selling a bunch of fatties in late Jan/early Feb.

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Re: Spring calving vs fall calving

Post by plumber_greg » Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:52 pm

Hook, I would think spring calves in Tn. mean Jan calves.
You gonna be around that time of the year?
Not used to winter of any kind, I would go fall and get a little look at what winter means there.
But then, don't listen to me, I only drive through West Memphis on my way to Florida for the winter.
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Re: Spring calving vs fall calving

Post by wbvs58 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:41 pm

Hook where I am we have very frosty winters with snow very rarely, like not at all basically but growth does shut down. We get through winter on stockpiled grass, some cereal crops and a bit of feeding. Our calving is spring but the calves arrive the last 2 months of winter. By the time they are 3 mths old they are starting on the green grass and get the full benefit of the growing season. We wean about the end of March and it is not unusual to have 1 or 2 over the 400 kg mark (880 lbs) with most in the mid to high 300 kg mark. Our weaning rates are 2nd to none. I think the cows can easily support the calf the 1st few months and from then on they thrive on grass with just milk supplementation.

I wouldn't change for any reason.

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Last edited by wbvs58 on Fri Mar 29, 2019 4:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Spring calving vs fall calving

Post by NEFarmwife » Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:13 pm

We are spring, if you consider first week of January, spring. We set our heifers up for 1st week. But as you’d guess, have a few early ones so it’s not unlikely to have some Xmas babies. We calve them out, then cows. Finish up first week of March. Anything not calved, goes to town.

We’ve done it this way for years because we start working fields in April. However, going to our fats, we actually like hitting the April fat market. Most are shipped then and we see better prices.

With as much as we’ve grown, we want to start turning our herd into two groups. Spring and fall. It’s difficult on one person to calve out so many head in one season. While I do night watch, my husband is the one tagging, working, pairing up calves by day and checking on their health throughout the harsh winter. He’s my rockstar.

I’m not a huge fan of our fall herd now. But they’re not our genetics and they were someone’s junk cows. Not a fair shake. They’ve definitely raised better calves this year than the year we got them bred. I’m hoping our own falls will have better health and growth.

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Re: Spring calving vs fall calving

Post by sim.-ang.king » Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:26 pm

Grazing fescue is an all new ballgame.
For fescue pasture, fall calving is the best, simple because it's the lest stressful time for grazing fescue. Also breeding in November and December is easier on the bulls, and cows. If you can have the feed for winter it can be the most profitable. You also get that April feeder option with you don't want to feed the calves through the summer.
Feed shortages, or hard summers with dry falls, can eat into your profits pretty fast though.
I prefer a split season. I have my bulk born in the spring for heifers, and steers. My best cows get bred for fall though, for bulls, and a option on April feeders.
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Re: Spring calving vs fall calving

Post by Silver » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:42 pm

holm25 wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:59 pm
We prefer spring. We usually start end of March and are done middle of April. By the time good grass is growing calves are eating.. We are in MN..
You're calving season is only 3 weeks? Holy.

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Re: Spring calving vs fall calving

Post by sstterry » Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:02 pm

Hook2.0 wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:25 pm
Trying to learn as much as I can, moving to a new region. Florida we had calving year round, I’m curious to the plus/minus on spring calving or fall calving in the NE region of Tennessee.
Fall calving seems like you’d have cows and calves at their highest nutritional needs, but there’s also winter forages and stockpiled fescue.
Opinions?
I think a lot of it will depend on your hay quality and availability. Do you want to feed one mouth or two during the Winter?

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Re: Spring calving vs fall calving

Post by Red Bull Breeder » Fri Mar 29, 2019 6:06 am

I like spring calves and that don't mean January. Like to start mid March and end mid April.

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Re: Spring calving vs fall calving

Post by Ebenezer » Fri Mar 29, 2019 7:41 am

If you have KY 31 fescue and your cattle cannot handle the endophyte you need to shoot for fall calving. If your cattle can handle the endophyte your feed costs and winter activities will be lower with spring calving. Many split seasons occur because folks start with spring calving, the cows will not breed back and they rebreed them in the fall to rescue the cows.

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Re: Spring calving vs fall calving

Post by True Grit Farms » Fri Mar 29, 2019 11:39 am

Ebenezer wrote:
Fri Mar 29, 2019 7:41 am
If you have KY 31 fescue and your cattle cannot handle the endophyte you need to shoot for fall calving. If your cattle can handle the endophyte your feed costs and winter activities will be lower with spring calving. Many split seasons occur because folks start with spring calving, the cows will not breed back and they rebreed them in the fall to rescue the cows.
That's the worst thing you can do to your cow herd. I can see giving a heifer a chance to get it together. But there's no excuse for a cow not to breed back and deliver a live calf every 12 months. I have no use for a freeloader.
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Re: Spring calving vs fall calving

Post by Ebenezer » Fri Mar 29, 2019 11:44 am

True Grit Farms wrote:
Fri Mar 29, 2019 11:39 am
Ebenezer wrote:
Fri Mar 29, 2019 7:41 am
If you have KY 31 fescue and your cattle cannot handle the endophyte you need to shoot for fall calving. If your cattle can handle the endophyte your feed costs and winter activities will be lower with spring calving. Many split seasons occur because folks start with spring calving, the cows will not breed back and they rebreed them in the fall to rescue the cows.
That's the worst thing you can do to your cow herd. I can see giving a heifer a chance to get it together. But there's no excuse for a cow not to breed back and deliver a live calf every 12 months. I have no use for a freeloader.
But here in the real world, it ain't that easy at all, hearts still get broken and some cows slide to fall. Darlin' it's sad but true but it's real about old fescue, the bull tries but it just don't take, here in the real world.

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Re: Spring calving vs fall calving

Post by T & B farms » Fri Mar 29, 2019 7:25 pm

I calve in Jan and early feb for 2 reasons. First is because that’s usually my least busy time on the farm side of things. So I have more time to dedicate to taking care of them. March and April it’s not uncommon for me to work 18-20 hour days. That’s doesn’t leave much time for the cows.
Reason 2. My breeding season is mostly over before the negative affects of the hot fescue start kicking in. Late May/early June usually.
I do deal with some pretty bad weather sometimes. Also, I have to supplement the milking cows in Jan/feb before grass starts coming on. My 10% fescue hay and some leftover stockpiled grass doesn’t quite keep them in the condition I want.
I’m my situation, this has worked out pretty well for me.
I do have a couple fall herds, but I’m not a big fan of fall calving.i had to really supplement those cows this winter, and the calves look to be smaller. We did have a terribly wet, and cold winter. I was nervous about preg checking, but most all of them were back in calf.
One positive of spring and fall herds is the ability to have less bulls around, and it gives them less free time to tear things up.

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