The best time to breed heifers is to determine when you want calves. I am not from Texas so can't say when is the best time for calves to be born there. Certain times of the year are better for the cows and calves to get a good start. We run 2 calving seasons, spring and fall, so we have alot of leeway..... but I prefer heifers calve in the spring and have the good grass to grow and milk and raise the calves. Fall calves on heifers here tend to make it a little harder for them to grow and make the milk with the cold winter weather. It drags their condition down more and so you compensate by feeding more so costs more to get that calf to weaning/selling. A heifer needs to be able to grow as well as milk and get bred back so you want the optimum feed/grass season for her to get a good start.
I think nothing beats spring for animals to be cycling. The grass growing, day lengths increasing, all a cause for optimism, all animals just want to breed then, its the way it is. Joining in spring gives me calves mid winter and they are just the right age to power on and make the best use with the growth of grass in spring and summer.
I turned my bulls in to the whole herd on Wednesday. A bunch will calve in late August. Most in September 2021. I don't really care for calving in hot weather but between August and September, not much difference. it doesn't seem to bother the cows much.
Calving in August/September even when its hot gives the calves stable weather and no cool nights. The calves learn what shade is very early in their life. They wean off and are ready to sell into the strength of the summer grazing period or put on pasture.
I like a June 1 turnout here for March and April calves. Spring weather is better for new calves than the 35 degree mud we get earlier, and the June weather is more agreeable for cows and bulls to breed in than the 90-100 from late July through mid September. Wean in November, less stress on momma all winter. Good green grass for momma and new baby, although we do have the late summer fescue slump to deal with.
anewcomer I don't know if you are addressing your question to me but I will give you an answer. Up until mid October I have fair forage. After that it gets pretty thin. The cows though are in very good shape coming off summer grazing so they do okay. I have a lull period thats starts about now where their is not much to eat so I feed hay earlier than I would like. I have oats planted that give them a good boost around mid December if I can catch some moisture.
I will admit my cows get thinner than I would like about March when their calves are big. The calves wean off April/May and the cows put their weight back on quickly with the early summer grass. Its not ideal but its what works best for me on this place.
Bird dog, I know you know these numbers, but let’s figure for others who may be following. Your cow who got bred last Wednesday 11/11/20 will calve 8/20/21. To give a calf every 365 days, our goal, she must rebreed in 80 days, by 11/10/21. If we expand that to all your cows who calve in the first 21 days of your calving season, they would all need to be bred back by 11/31/21. If we figure we should be increasing body condition at least 30 days pre-calving, that would put us at 7/20/21. So for 130 days from 7/20/21 to 11/31/21 we would want these cows on an increasing plane of nutrition, especially post-calving and through peak lactation at 40-60 days. From your description, your forage base looks to be declining in both quality and quantity during this time, requiring supplementation. Do you also have a spring calving herd?
If I understand your question correctly, yes it would be best if they would receive some supplementation but they usually don't until two to three months after calving begins. I will admit my cows could receive better care if money was not an object but they have to do well on what I provide or they will have to be replaced. A little Brahman influence in the cows seems to help and most of the herd is moderate sized. They are in very good shape when the calving period starts and yes they will lose some weight before spring. Sometimes a little, sometimes quite a bit. The amount of moisture we get, how cold the weather gets and the quality of my hay determines what shape they are in coming out of winter.
The cows that seem to do the best are Beefmasters, Brafords and Brangus Baldies. The black angus cows seem do to the worst and almost all of these have been shipped.
Yes I do have a spring (Feb/March) calving herd on a place with much better summer grass. They are the opposite. They calve in a less than ideal body condition but put on weight in a hurry through the spring and summer. A bull goes on them in Mid may. Their calves wean off about 50 lbs heavier than the fall calving group but bring about the same $ because usually the prices are lower in the fall. The calves from that group are now in the back grounding pasture and will go to market in a couple weeks.
I know its not ideal how I do things but getting the cows bred back is not really a problem for me. My calving period is not real tight but its mostly from merging a winter calving herd into the fall group when I sold a place a couple years ago.
A good friend of mine managed a ranch of over 1000 head on the good side of the Red River from north Texas. HE was an excellent record keeper. He tells me he showed making significantly more money on the spring herds than the fall ones. I've never had fall cattle but was thinking of starting some on a lease place when he cautioned me. I guess a lot of it would have to do with your cool season grass supply. However, if you look at nature it seems God has most of them having babies in the spring. That being said, my heifers calve starting 2-1
Bird dog, thanks for your very comprehensive reply. My point in my last post was to help the original poster understand the nutrient requirements of the cow as she progresses through pregnancy, post partum and breeding. Your comments seem to indicate that your cows are declining in nutrition as they move through these phases. Without knowing your numbers, I would be surprised if your breed backs were not slower than you would like, resulting in calving intervals longer than 365 days and probably getting longer. I would expect your spring herd to be much better in these regards. You know these numbers, but I was trying to help Fred understand that timing your calving season to your grass growth is the most important thing in the cattle business. Would your fall herd perform better as a spring herd?
<<Would your fall herd perform better as a spring herd?>>
It might. Might not. I don't think it would unless we had a good moisture year. This place does not have very good grass and it starts playing out out mid-summer nutrition wise when the calves would need it most. Calves would probably wean out at a lighter weight and have to sell into the fall rush. Plus I would need another bull.
I like having two herds that calve at different times to spread my weather and price risk. It also allows you to shift a cow to the other herd when necessary. Plus you can get double duty out of your bull(s).
Bird dog, thanks for your response. My point about your fall herd becoming a spring herd was that spring might better match your cow nutrition requirements to your grass during calving, post-partum and breeding. More cows bred, and bred early, means more calves born. Reproductive rate correlates highly with profit (SPA data). Weaning weight does not. Of all the things we do for our cattle, health, genetics, supplements, etc., by far the most impactful to profit is timing our calving season to our grass growth. Nothing else comes close. I hope Fred, the OP, is following this.
If you have a regular calving season for your cows I’d want the heifers to calve 6 Weeks before the cows start calving. This will give the heifers a little extra time to recover before you sync them up with the cows.