Calving: Syncronization or Spacing Out?

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While I'm not a newbie I thought this beginner's board good for getting lot of imput. Comment: Lot of breeders and cattle people seem to prefer breeding/exposing within a "breeding season" (e.g., spring). True, this produces a "crop" of calves at the same time ready for market. On other hand, some like myself, want cattle in a variety of sizes and ages for our private treaty sales. With the exception of trying to breed when it's real hot or when it's real cold (assuming your operation is set up for successful "year-around" calving), the question is: "Are there any extremely significant reasons (otherwise) to have a "breeding season" vs. "continual breeding"? I'm not talking about making a few dollars and/or pounds extra by controlled season breeding. I AM talking about heifer/cow fertility, calving longevity, and/or other future significant potential problems with a herd by "breeding out of season."

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Well, I have to admit that I'm one of those crass cattle people who expect to make money on my cattle. So I'm not sure that you want an answer from me, but I'll respond anyway. We raise registered Angus. Our main customers are cattlemen who use Angus bulls on their commercial cattle. We breed to calve in Jan/Feb for several reasons. (1) Our bulls are performance tested in contemporary groups of 60 days. We like to cut down on the trips to the test station, so we try to get them born within a 60-day period and just have to deliver to one test. (2) The bulls are breeding age, 15-16 months old, in May when most people start breeding in my area. We generally sell them by the end of June and don't have to deal with a bull all summer. (3) By having a defined breeding season we can have more bulls for a customer to select from. (4) When people come to look at heifers, they also have a larger group to select from. They seem to prefer groups of heifers the same age that should breed and calve at the same time, keeping their calving season shorter and requiring less labor. We're in southern Oklahoma; it gets hot here in the summer. In this area, calves born in the summer (Jun through Aug) just don't seem to grow very well. The grass starts losing nutrients due to the heat and dryness and the cows don't milk as well. Heat stress causes conception rates to go down; bulls are not as interested and if a cow's temp goes up too much, she'll slip that embryo or the sperm will die before it fertilizes the egg. Cows tend to lose body condition in the summer, so if they calve late, they may be in poor body condition before the calf even starts nursing. I don't think of that as "fertility", just good management. I really don't think it hurts cows to calve "out of season," just hurts the producer's pocket book.
Thanks Frankie for your input! Yes, it does make sense. We're in Texas Panhandle--also hot and dry in summer. With your program, certainly makes sense that you have a "crop" of calves for your commercial cattle people.

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Our alving seaso ended today (39 days) and my wife brought up an interesting point. For me it means no more concern about possible calving problems, a uniform calf crop and uniform mangagment for vaccinations, pasture, etc. For her it means no more babys to look forward to and watch as they progress through the various stages they pass through. Now she'll have to wait another year for the fun of watching new babys. Depending on marketing strategies, having a consistant group to market at once or being like the dog market where you have multiple litters a year to meet the requirements of a spread out or staggard demand. Or like the wife, just having the enjoyment of having babys around for more then a month or two each year. It all depends on what you are looking for and what works for you. Other then the difficulties of getting a cow to settle during the poor forage times of the year without maybe having to supplement, or getting a cow to settle during the extreme summer heat, or the awkwardness of AI breeding during the coldest months of the year, when you calf has no long term affect on the cows. As long as the calve every 11-12 months, they are doing ok


> Thanks Frankie for your input!
> Yes, it does make sense. We're in
> Texas Panhandle--also hot and dry
> in summer. With your program,
> certainly makes sense that you
> have a "crop" of calves
> for your commercial cattle people.
There are so many reasons to calve in a short season or two each year. We calve late Jan thru early March and again in September. We save labor by handling our cattle in gruops that will need the same management at the same time. We heat detect and breed three weekends in the spring and two in early winter. We wean and feed calves within a small age group. We vaccinate calves in certain age groups and cows at a certain time pre breeding and pre calving. We put retained heifers on a developing ration together and feed heifers with their first and possible second calf on a better nutrition program. I can't imagine doing all these activities all around the calendar and trying to keep track of who has had which shots and who is going to need them next week or next month.

If I got up in the morning knowing I had a heifer due to calve I had to check on right away, then vaccinate 4 calves, booster two that were vaccinated earlier, wean three but put them in a seperate lot from the other weaned calves until they are up on feed, haul two herifers that are now old enough to breed to the bull pasture and bring three young heifers into the heifer development pasture, heat detect and AI a few cows... no I just couldn't do it. I'd pull the covers back over my head.

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Well, I am no newbie either, but am always able to learn from the old farts out there who have been doing it longer than I have walked the earth.

What I learned and have implimented in my program, I also find a usefull tool for sorting out the most fertile females to use as replacements in the herd.

I raise Limousin, and I market club calves as well as seed stock, and am able to retain only a limmited number of females each year, so that I maintain the right number. Yet i only wish to keep the best genetics with the best level of fertility, thus propagating fertility in the next generation. I use CIDR's, Lutalyse, and Estradiol Benzoate, and I also try and use naturale heats as much as possible with the recip females. Then after every thing is bred I run a bull with the cow herd to catch any that might abort or cycle back. for our program at least, contemporary groups are easier to form when calves are born close together, but I realize this is not a factor of importance for commercial growers, if you don't need contemporary groups, you dont need to have a calving season, but prices are higher in spring, so why calve in Spring when you could calve in Fall, and take advantage of premiums paid for calves that can be weaned in the Spring?

Besides the factor of reduced worries watching heifers, a calving season can shorten the time of having to look more frequently for those who do not see their cattle every day.

I would suggest that heifers be calved out no later than late february to reduce the incidence of calving difficulty due to lush forage causing large calves at birth.

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Michelle, I was interested in how your results have been using CIDR'S Lutalyse? I have visited there web sight and talked with a Rep today. They couldn't tell me how the Estradiol Benzoate works and how it was given in conjunction with the CIDR'S Lutalyse. Also have you tried eny other Prostaglandin products and your take on them. I have used the Lutalyse alone with no results at all. I almost suspect maybe I received some bad bottles. Eny help on this subject would be much appreciated.


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