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Spring Calving vs. Fall Calving

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Bestoutwest

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Why do people do it? I see a lot of these larger operations doing it, but I don't understand the want for fall calving. I would think it would be easier to sell calves instead of carrying them through the winter. I ask b/c I'm looking at buying soon and one of the folks I'm talking to has both. Personally, I'm think I'm going to stay with spring calvers, but I could be persuaded.
 

Bright Raven

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I have successfully moved to 100 % fall calving. The primary reason is related to the effort to breed. I am 100 % Artificial Insemination. I do not maintain a breeding age bull. I have one breeding season. Thanksgiving until the end of January. During that breeding period, estrus cycles are generally more pronounced than spring breeding. During the spring, in my area, cattle go into the shade of the hollers and heat detection is a challenge.

With fall calving and winter breeding, I have more available time during the spring and summer. So for me, fall calving is by leaps and bounds a better use of my resources. Furthermore, halter breaking in the fall is less stressful than during the heat of the summer.

The only disadvantage that I suffer is that show steers are spring born and I am missing that market.
 

angus9259

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I switched to fall calving and won't go back. Mostly due to weather during calving season and heat detection and breeding is much easier than in the summer. Also - a lot of demand for fall born calves in the spring around here when the grass greens up. Not many available so the market is less saturated. I do have to feed the cows better over the winter while they are milking. I find it a small price to pay for the convenience. But to each their own.
 
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Bestoutwest

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I've read that calves can't regulate their temperature like mature cattle can. Is this true? If so, would it be better to have calves go through 100 degree summers with shade, but no creeks or ponds, or through winter where it gets below freezing?
 

Bright Raven

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Bestoutwest":1318krd3 said:
I've read that calves can't regulate their temperature like mature cattle can. Is this true? If so, would it be better to have calves go through 100 degree summers with shade, but no creeks or ponds, or through winter where it gets below freezing?

Calves regulate their temperature. All mammals do. I believe heat is harder on cattle than cold. At least at the latitude where I live.
 

Lazy M

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By design about 2/3 of our cows are spring bred; 1/3 fall. I like to spread our $ out. I was a little worried if I was going to keep the herds separate but with decent hay I haven't had a problem keeping the groups together. I also creep the fall calves (from Feb thru weaning), but not the spring.
 

True Grit Farms

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In 2015 and 2016 the price of the calves we sold in April brought $140 to $200 more per head than the calves we sold in October. Hopefully this year will be the same, I held everything back and creep feeding free choice. The prices have been retreating for the last month so the outlook isn't the best.
 

coachg

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My father and I had always practiced spring calving . Grandpa Griffith always put the bull in June 15 th , bringing a few late March but mostly April calves. His logic was the momma cows would have plenty of grass to give milk. So when my sons and I got back in the cattle business the only bred cows and heifers we could find were all fall calvers. Since then I have bought a group of Spring calvers. So currently we had 11 spring calves born this year and 21 fall calves. While I will always do the spring thing I like having weaning age calves to sell or keep when spring rolls around and we have new grass . Winter is a little harder on the cows nursing calves but I like no flies , less heat to calve in, not worrying about having water in the creeks and ponds. My vote would be split them !
 

dun

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It's only the first couple of weeks they can't regulate their temp. They soon get the ability. We spring calve for the simple reason that the weather even if it is crappy during part of it it will improve later. Fall calving it just keeps getting crappier.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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I do both. From what I have heard from other breeders, fall seems to work best for Southern states.
My "spring" calving is actually a winter calving (Jan 1 to Mar 1) This is to get the calves up & going before our mud season.
I love the fall calving. Generally, no mud. Calves are up & going before bad weather gets here. And, it is a good market to sell replacement heifers. I do have 3-side sheds for the calves to get into, out of the weather & wind. Wind and mud is all you need to worry about for the babies.
And, yes, you have to make sure the cows are fed well. But, they get the same feed as the dry cows. They are kept separate.
 

Brute 23

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We had year round calving then went to calving seasons.

I thought it would be a good idea to have spring and fall calving to cut down on bulls, keep bulls busy, and spread the income out.

I'm in the process of moving the fall calvers to spring. It is soooo much easier taking a cow thru the winter with out a calf at her side.

Plus, in years where the grass is plentiful I can keep the calves until late in the year and sell them heavy but still have them gone by the time I start feeding hay.
 

cowgirl8

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Spring calvers, the land feeds them.. Fall calvers, you feed them. Money wise you're better off calving in the spring. People will switch to fall calving because of the higher prices at the sale barns in the spring. But, you're paying more for feed so you're not really making more money.
 

WinterSpringsFarm

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We spring calve (Jan-Mar) because come late march the sprayer, fertilizer buggy, and planter starts rolling and in the fall the combine and many other things are rolling as well. Jan-Mar is kinda my slow time, and the market is better for me.
 

dun

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cowgirl8":1pce6oo4 said:
Spring calvers, the land feeds them.. Fall calvers, you feed them. Money wise you're better off calving in the spring. People will switch to fall calving because of the higher prices at the sale barns in the spring. But, you're paying more for feed so you're not really making more money.
Friend of mine calves spring and fall. H e says the net is about the same for both seasons. The added income for the fall calvers is offset by the higher costs. He figures it's a wash profit wise between the 2 seasons.
 
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Bestoutwest

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Thanks for all the replies. I think I'm going to stick with the spring. Since we do freezer beef and don't sale at the barn, I can get one to 16+ months just in time for grilling season. I just wondered if there was a medical benefit for the calves being born in the fall.

Thanks everyone :wave:
 

backhoeboogie

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Winter wheat is cheaper than hay and more nutrient rich.

Calving year round worked great for me in this climate. Some cows were calving at 10 1/2 months since last calf. That is the genes I retained when I had to pick and cull.
 

farmerjan

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We do both. Started with just spring, then bought some cows, then it just evolved. What most are saying is true. Higher prices in the spring for calves but somewhat higher costs to feed the lactating cow through the winter. Less flies, stress from heat with fall calvers. LESS PREDATORS for us here with fall calvers. Have next to no problems with the dang buzzards in the fall but they are a BIG problem in the spring.
Although we cull pretty heavy for breeding problems, I do like to be able to salvage a good cow, especially a first calf heifer, that doesn't get bred back, by switching her to the next calving group. They get a ONE TIME switch, but sometimes it just seems a bit too harsh to cull an otherwise good animal that missed getting bred. It is only a 6 month loss of time rather than a whole year if you calve once a year. If allowed to run with the bull all the time she would get bred a little later...so rather than have year round calving we regulate it and just switch them into the next group. We have culled alot of cows and lost 2 pastures due to sale of the land this year so have about 2/3 rds of the cows calving in the spring right now. Since we have more places to put cows out for spring grazing, will probably leave the balance this way. One of the places we lost we calved a big group of fall cows and it has hurt to have to shuffle cows around. We are also holding over some later spring born calves to sell a little heavier in early spring to try to not get kicked in the butt as prices kept dropping here this fall. We have the hay so will see if it pays....
 

bird dog

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It really needs to depend on your forage. My old place, winter (Nov- Jan) was best because of the mid summer to early fall grasses along the creek bottom as well as spring Rye grass. MY new place it appears fall will be best because the grass plays out towards mid summer. Every place is different but I want my calves about 4 to 5 months old when the grass is best. That also coincides to when the cows start getting sucked down.
 

Bullitt

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Bestoutwest":25z5cwlx said:
Thanks for all the replies. I think I'm going to stick with the spring. Since we do freezer beef and don't sale at the barn, I can get one to 16+ months just in time for grilling season. I just wondered if there was a medical benefit for the calves being born in the fall.

Thanks everyone :wave:

As you point out, you have to consider how and when you market your cattle. You also have to consider the weather in your area. I am guessing the winters are pretty cold in Idaho.

If you were in an area with mild winters and grass to feed in the winter, it would probably make sense to have cows calving in the fall. In some areas the summers are hot and dry also.

I have read that June is the best month to sell cattle because it is the month with the least number of calves available. Most fall calves are sold by June. Most spring-born calves are too young to sell in June. If calves are born in the fall and sold in June, there may be better prices.
 

backhoeboogie

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Bullitt":1rrkoks4 said:
I have read that June is the best month to sell cattle because it is the month with the least number of calves available. Most fall calves are sold by June. Most spring-born calves are too young to sell in June. If calves are born in the fall and sold in June, there may be better prices.

Rain makes a big difference in prices too. May and early June are often wet here. 3 in 1’s ring the bell in April, May, and June.

If it’s a drought year you don’t have to carry wet cows thru the summer. Wean and sell.
 

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