Summer/Fall Calving in Snow Country ?

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Stocker Steve

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Conventional wisdom is that fall calving cows here require a lot more stored feed and lose money. Probably true for most.

We are doing a better job grazing, which in recent years has stretched into December. So the August calves would be 4 months old before they went on 100% cow hay along with their moms. I have seen some early "fall" (mid-August here) calving herds that seemed to do well with cows that don't have too much milk and cheap hay. Could even do a Dave -- buy other people's late cows and then cull them on the high spring kill market.

Do you see any down sides?
 
Fall calving and the winter following will sure shake out the hard doers IME.

Even here where we get little to no snow normally, you'll want some sort of calf only shelter. We're wet and muddy, I'd rather have froze over but no one listens to what I want.

I would limit feed the calves to supplement a few pounds a day once the hay feeding starts.

Around here, having worked and long weaned (60 day) calves for sale in April is where the money is at. Don't want to go over 600#, 550-600 is the sweet spot here.
 
Few guys including myself doing it here. Start calving mid-august onto warm clean dry ground and get 3 to hopefully 4 months of grazing before feeding hay. Wean in late spring while its still froze and dry.

Spring calving was giving me to many issues with deep snow, then deep mud.
Aaron' plan is calving May and August for 30 to 40 days each. He said many that have a "fall" herd got started due to a bad bull.

If you feed August calvers just grass hay -- to you see any problems?
 
I calve most of my herd Jan/Feb and a small group Sept/Oct. Both groups are kept separate but both groups are only fed hay. It's good baleage, but just hay and we have some pretty brutal winters. And great mineral program.
 
I haven't had many problems (any problem cows have grown wheels). We sync cows so the goal is always to have them calve in the first 1 or 2 cycles. That means most are done by September so they usually get 2.5-3 months of good growth on them (no dealing with deep mud, bad flies, heat, etc that spring calves have) before deep winter sets in.
 
The mud is the original reason we started breeding earlier - and earlier - and earlier. Until we've settled on Jan/Feb. Calves are plenty smart by the time mud season starts. They know how to avoid it as much as possible.
We have 3 sided sheds for our calves. Most people put a board on the front of the shed, so the calves can get in and cows can't. Problem with that, is the cows stand outside the shed and totally trash the ground all around the shed, making it difficult for the calves to get IN or OUT without getting belly deep in mud. We put a 1-strand hi-tensile fence around a substantial area around the shed. Calves can lay out on the grass/weeds/snow in the sun on good days or bundle up in the shed. NO MUD anywhere around their shed. The cows will make a muddy area around the closest spot to the shed, but the calves have all the way around to get in and out and not be in the mud.
 
Jan/feb calving here is too labor intensive. When its -30 and wind chill of -50 with possibly 2 foot of snow falling in 5 hours time those calves don't stand much of a chance if everything doesn't go perfectly.

For instance 3 years ago we had a 3 day blizzard early February. We received 60" of snow, wind chills hit -60 and some drifts were 15 feet tall. If a cow was calving that thing wouldn't have standed a chance.
 
Absolutely correct. I have a small herd, calving only about 35 in Jan/Feb. They all calve in the barn and get to stay for 24-48 hours after birth. Cows within 2 to 3 wks of due date are in a lot outside my window. As they "appear" to be getting close, they go in barn for the night, then kicked out in am.
My facilities work for our weather and my size herd. Most of my fall calvers calve on grass, but also up close by house.
 
There's a few here that calve midwinter but like you they both have facilities that they can house cows in for extended periods of time pre and post calving. They also spend lots of time watching, sorting, penning cows, etc. The two I know of are like you they raise higher dollar show stock so the time they invest gets rewarded with their high end animals.

For a commercial cow/calf guy like myself that kind of time isn't worth it.
 
I totally understand that. That is what is nice about our industry. Lots of different environments and managements that FIT your own environment and type of cattle operation.
I even have cameras so I can check them all night without getting out of bed. Cheap, but soooo efficient. Don't disturb the cow, and I sleep well. Just click, click, click and go back to sleep. LOL Save 1 calf and that would pay for all my cameras in both barns!
That kind of system is useless for someone calving out large herds.
 
Conventional wisdom is that fall calving cows here require a lot more stored feed and lose money. Probably true for most.

We are doing a better job grazing, which in recent years has stretched into December. So the August calves would be 4 months old before they went on 100% cow hay along with their moms. I have seen some early "fall" (mid-August here) calving herds that seemed to do well with cows that don't have too much milk and cheap hay. Could even do a Dave -- buy other people's late cows and then cull them on the high spring kill market.

Do you see any down sides?
NDSU did a fairly extensive study in the 1990's at their Streeter, N.D., Central Grasslands Station. Very positive results on fall calving in the Frozen North.
Interesting that hay consumption was not all that different. You feed more only till the end of breeding season. I give my calves a creep hay area so they don't have to compete with the cows for feed.
 
NDSU did a fairly extensive study in the 1990's at their Streeter, N.D., Central Grasslands Station. Very positive results on fall calving in the Frozen North.
Interesting that hay consumption was not all that different. You feed more only till the end of breeding season. I give my calves a creep hay area so they don't have to compete with the cows for feed.
I do too. I have a 3-sided calf shed that has a large area around it that the cows cannot get to, with a 1 strand hi-tensile fence. The calves can go under. They have a great dry bale in their shed to eat free choice and we also bed it down with the hay. About a month before weaning, we start putting some WSC and whole oats in a feeder for them. Makes weaning so much easier on the calves.
Does it take more feed for cows to grow a fetus during the winter vs milk production in winter? Obviously, it would depend on the milk production. I have heavy milkers. But, I really don't think they eat a lot more than pregnant cows.
 
Aaron' plan is calving May and August for 30 to 40 days each. He said many that have a "fall" herd got started due to a bad bull.

If you feed August calvers just grass hay -- to you see any problems?
I'd prefer to calve in April and May, but due to a dud bull we calved last year in September. I suspect you're 100% spot on about bad bulls.

Really threw me on how much more hay they consume carrying calves. Wasn't accounting for that when I filled the barn.

Another reason I'd like to sell them this year. Take a while to get them back to late spring calving.
 

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