Rethinking

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Rydero

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There is nothing the cattle business that affects the bottom line more than a live calf. The best time to calve is when the ambient temperature
is not a threat to the life of the calf. The weight that I lost through calving in sync with nature is made up in live calves sold, no med$, shelters,
time wasted looking for calves instead of counting calves. Pulling calves is another waste of time that for the most part can be eliminated with
a little common sense in heifer and bull selection. (I will get skewered for that!) It is the No Sale or One time sales that fail the profit test.
Nothing ,just happens, in this business. There is always a cause and a subsequent consequence be it good or bad. Will they all live, NO
Can more be saved by calving in sync with nature, Yes
You keep saying this... I was thinking about the fact I don't feel like we lose many calves at all as a direct result of the cold. Most late calving advocates talk about not getting up at night, counting calves and similar statements. If you're accounting for labor it's definitely cheaper in that regard but if as you say, "nothing in the cattle business affects the bottom line more than a live calf". In my mind the fact we're out there as a result of the cold means we catch a lot of dystocia problems early, save calves born in the bag, make sure calves get colostrum in a timely fashion etc. In short we seem to be saving a lot of calves. Last year we didn't quite get there but the year before we weaned one more calf than we had cows (80+ calving). I pretty quickly found and read this article that seems to confirm my thoughts. https://www.canadiancattlemen.ca/features/early-or-late-calving/
Maybe you have other information? I know only a couple May/June calving operations. The one I know well has a much lower live weaning % than we do and he constantly struggles to market his calves for a decent dollar. The other one I don't have much information on but is very large and seems successful however they wean and background all calves to get a better dollar which I'm not interested in emulating at all.
 

Silver

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Good points @Rydero It has always appeared to me that those of us who calve in colder weather tend to wean more live calves than most that calve in warmer weather, and assumed it was because when the weather is cold more attention is paid.
 
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kucala5

kucala5

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All very interesting.
We are holding the bull out until June 1 this year. We are diligent regardless of weather in checking through the night if warranted. We will see how it goes. This was just a tough enough year so far for us to slightly change course.
 

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TCRanch

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Calving in sync with the weather is subject to change at a moments notice. Did anyone really foresee the brutal storm that hit the majority of the states? Or the 3 year drought we had? Or the record amount of rain the past couple of years? I calve in the "spring" (also subjective) because that's predominantly what the market dictates here. At one point in time, calving generally started around the first of Feb. Too many frostbitten ears, so I moved it back a month and "should" have started March 5th this year.

An unfortunate bull situation one year (soldier down!) moved my spring calving to predominantly spring, a few in the summer, a few in the fall . . . basically, calving year 'round. But you gotta give the remaining 2 year old bull credit for eventually covering all the cows. Summer calves just didn't thrive as well and it was a nightmare, trying to keep the flies off them. Fall calves were okay, but at the end of the grazing season, so their diet primarily consisted of mama & hay. They just didn't look or grow as well. Selling a handful of calves, you take a hit. Hard culling brought me back to spring only.

So, what if I move my calving back yet another month? I currently turn out the bulls towards the end of May (24th last year) and pull them towards the end of Aug, a good 6 weeks before weaning. Yes, the top preforming cows are generally the ones that consistently calve within the first few weeks of calving. But we've had some exceptionally early summers here the past few years and when the heat index is hovering around 100 in June, the bulls just aren't on their "A game" when it comes to breeding. My tight calving window just got longer. And I'll be weaning in November, when the weather can be nice - or ugly. And I'll be selling my calves later. Hard pass!

I do agree that calving in cold weather essentially forces the producer to be more diligent. Not a bad thing, as far as I'm concerned. I calve out my heifers in the barn, so a potential problem is easier to address. And when it's cold, the main herd is primarily around the bale area, not far from the barn and generally easy to get them in the chute. Later in the spring, as soon as the green grass comes up, they're all over the place and I can (and have) either missed an opportunity to intervene or the cow was having none of it - and my safety is worth more than a calf.

The best time to calve is whatever works best for your operation.
 
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kucala5

kucala5

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Our calving season wrapped up this morning with a vet farm call on our heifer that labored all night. Every hour I checked I was sure there would be a calf standing by her. Beautiful big girl, wonderful productive Mom and Gma. Normal size bull calf had to be cut out of her, Doc said pelvis too small, she would never have been able to have it, too late for a c section. Heifer “Bernice” is up, some damage that needs to heal though. Obviously she can’t stay. She had a good life here for 2 years.
 

TCRanch

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Our calving season wrapped up this morning with a vet farm call on our heifer that labored all night. Every hour I checked I was sure there would be a calf standing by her. Beautiful big girl, wonderful productive Mom and Gma. Normal size bull calf had to be cut out of her, Doc said pelvis too small, she would never have been able to have it, too late for a c section. Heifer “Bernice” is up, some damage that needs to heal though. Obviously she can’t stay. She had a good life here for 2 years.
Double whammy. I'm sorry for your loss. Big girls with big butts don't always mean big pelvic measurements. Couple years ago when the vet was pelvic measuring my retained heifers, one didn't make the cut because she scored a pitiful 132. What??? She was huge and came from a very productive lineage. But sometimes, nature throws you a curve ball.
 

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