Why have a calving season??

Help Support CattleToday:

Jeanne - Simme Valley

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
12,171
Reaction score
931
Location
Central Upstate New York
Article from Cattlenetwork.com
Cow Calf: Why Have A Calving Season??

One of the most asked questions in the cattle industry in the Southern United States: If I “pull” the bulls out for part of the year, won’t I lose an opportunity to get a few calves? Should I leave the bull out with cows year-round? Here is the answer: A research analysis of 394 ranch observations from the Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico SPA (standardized performance analysis) data set provided insight into the age old argument about "leaving the bull out" or having a defined breeding season. OSU and Texas A&M Agricultural Economists (Parker, et al) presented a paper at the 2004 Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists. They found a positive relationship between number of days of the breeding season and the production cost per hundredweight of calf weaned. Also they reported a negative relationship between number of days of the breeding season and pounds of calf weaned per cow per year.

The data suggested that for each day the breeding season was lengthened, the annual cost of producing a hundred pounds of weaned calf increased by 4.7 cents and pounds of calf weaned per cow per year decreased by 0.158 pounds. The range of breeding seasons in the data set was from extremely short (less than one month) to 365 days or continuous presence of the bull. The trend lines that resulted from the analysis of the data give us an opportunity to evaluate the economic importance of a defined breeding season. The producer that leaves the bull out year-round (365 days) would sell 45.82 fewer pounds of calf per cow per year on the average than producers with a 75 day breeding season. That same producer would have $13.63 greater costs per hundredweight of weaned calf than the producer that used a 75 day breeding season. In this era of cost/price squeezes, a well-defined breeding and calving season provides a better opportunity to survive the volatility of cattle prices and input costs.

Source: Glenn Selk, OSU Extension Cattle Reproduction Specialist
 

SRBeef

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 22, 2007
Messages
2,931
Reaction score
1
Location
SW Wisconsin
Thanks for posting the article, Jeanne.

I think that the tighter the calving season the better. I read or heard somewhere that the "best" time to calve is 30 days ahead of "green-up". In SW WI that is about May 1. The logic that I heard about this was that this means the cows peak nutrition needs due to lactation occur 60 to 90 days after calving. This matches the cows peak nutrition need time with the best grass of the year.

The problem I see with even a 75 day calving season, as suggested in the article above, is too wide a period.

If the earliest of these 75 day calvers calves 30 days prior to greenup, with a 75 day calving season the last to calve is calving 45 days AFTER greenup. Her nutritional needs peak 60-90 days after calving which puts her peak needs 135 to 165 days after green-up or basically missed the boat on the grass/nutrition theory, at least in my climate and grass growth curve.

This spring I had beginners luck and went just 21 days from first to last calf. April 12 to May 2nd. What I see happening now is exactly as what I read - calf needs are climbing but so is the grass and cows must be milking very well to get the growth rates I'm seeing on the calves. My only modification for next year is to move that first calf up about 2 weeks to April 1. This is why I put the bull in this weekend. Theoretically March 24th earliest possible due date but realistically probably going to be a few days later.

So I am in agreement with the idea of a defined calving period but I feel 75 days is way to long. Most folks I have talked to leave the bull in for about 45 days or 2 cycles. Any cow not pregnant in that period may not be very fertile and should be hamburger not a breeding cow, providing the bull was sound and no other reasons for being open. jmho.

This is a northerners/short grass season response however. The article does mention southern US so maybe there are different factors involved in the south that might make 75 days ok somehow...

Thanks again for the thoughtful article.

Jim

edit: on rereading this, I probably should add that I did in fact leave the bull in with my cows until weaning time. so I really don't "pull the bull" at 45 or 75 days. But at preg check time any cows not close to the others will in fact be hamburger or sold as bred. The only reason I separated the bull at all was so he did not breed this year's heifers at 8 months. Bull, bred cows and steers went one way, calves went the other at weaning time.
 

Red Bull Breeder

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 31, 2008
Messages
7,621
Reaction score
2
Location
North Arkansas
Have never figured out why you would just run the bull with the cows for a set number of days. I just pull the bull when the first calf is born and hold him till i want to breed the cows back.The rest of the time he can stay with the cows and is a lot less of a problem.
 

novaman

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 21, 2005
Messages
1,741
Reaction score
1
Location
North Dakota
Red Bull Breeder":1pgrk1a3 said:
Have never figured out why you would just run the bull with the cows for a set number of days. I just pull the bull when the first calf is born and hold him till i want to breed the cows back.The rest of the time he can stay with the cows and is a lot less of a problem.
1. Heifer calves getting bred
2. Unexpected calves at unwanted times should a cow have problems getting bred on time
3. Fence repairs when bulls get bored with their herd and decide to jump into the next pasture
 
OP
Jeanne - Simme Valley

Jeanne - Simme Valley

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
12,171
Reaction score
931
Location
Central Upstate New York
SRbeef - I don't think the article is recommending 75 day calving season. That was just a figure for comparison. They did say "data suggested that for each day the breeding season was lengthened, the annual cost of producing a hundred pounds of weaned calf increased by 4.7 cents and pounds of calf weaned per cow per year decreased by 0.158 pounds."
So, I take that as the shorter the better.
Lots of research recommends calving to co-inside with spring grasses. I think that would be disastrous with my cows. My calves are anywhere from 30-90 days old when we first go out on grass, when it's about 3-4" tall getting baleage at the same time. When the grass is lush & enough for them to be full time on grass (about 2 weeks later), my cows have so darn much milk you would think they just calved. I watched many calves start sucking & the other three quarters were dripping milk. The lush grass was really pumping out the milk. And I don't have HEAVY milkers like the old Simmentals used to be. If all my calves were closer to 30-45 days at peak lush grass, I think I might have udder problems.
 

rnsandie

Active member
Joined
Jan 21, 2008
Messages
29
Reaction score
0
Location
North Florida
If you live in Florida you want the calves born before June.... I didn't do this and now have calf problems in 100 degree weather.... not good
 

Red Bull Breeder

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 31, 2008
Messages
7,621
Reaction score
2
Location
North Arkansas
The bull is going to get all the cows that will breed bred as soon as he can if it is 40 days or 100. Shot of lut at weaning will take care of bred heifers. If a cow calves late then you can sell as a pair.
 

novaman

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 21, 2005
Messages
1,741
Reaction score
1
Location
North Dakota
Red Bull Breeder":3aib9kgc said:
The bull is going to get all the cows that will breed bred as soon as he can if it is 40 days or 100. Shot of lut at weaning will take care of bred heifers. If a cow calves late then you can sell as a pair.
Yes, you can do things to take care of the issues as you mentioned. In my opinion, it is so much easier and safer to simply remove the bull and have less work. Everyone has their way of doing things.
 

Willow Springs

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 19, 2008
Messages
212
Reaction score
1
Location
North of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
The lush grass was really pumping out the milk. And I don't have HEAVY milkers like the old Simmentals used to be. If all my calves were closer to 30-45 days at peak lush grass, I think I might have udder problems.

That's the whole point to the system. Because the cows are calving on grass they milk heavier due to the abundance of high quality forage therefore a person doesn't need to have cows that milk as heavy which in turn saves on feed costs due to maintenance requirements.
 

alacattleman

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 22, 2006
Messages
4,141
Reaction score
0
Location
heart of dixie
rnsandie":2ir271dc said:
If you live in Florida you want the calves born before June.... I didn't do this and now have calf problems in 100 degree weather.... not good
thats one, plus getting em in tune with the grass you see a lot breeding during calving season and calving during breeding season, i like my calve too hit early spring too take advantage of the forage
 

1982vett

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 3, 2008
Messages
9,455
Reaction score
230
Location
Central Texas
In addition to the study quoted in the previous post..
http://www.aragriculture.org/News/anima ... rmudagrass
The Impact of Reducing the Length of the Calving Season
Dr. Tom Troxel, Professor, and Dr. Brett Barham, Assistant Professor

With the profitability of a cow-calf operation more difficult to obtain, reducing the length of the calving season can be the first step toward improved production efficiency. In a 2009 USDA survey, 54.5% of the beef cattle operations, accounting for 34.1% of the beef cows did not have a set calving season. About one-third of the operations (34%) had one breeding season, and these operations accounted for 48.4% of the beef cows. Of operations with one breeding season, 69.7% completed calving within three months, with an average breeding season of 110 days. The most common factors determining the timing of the calving season include tradition, weather, forage availability, increasing weaning weights, market cycle and labor availability. Advantages of a short calving season include uniform lots of calves and improved management of herd health, cow nutrition and culling and selection of replacement heifers.

Six beef cow-calf operations in Howard (n = 2), Dallas (n = 2), Union and Montgomery counties participated in the Arkansas Beef Improvement Program Breeding and Calving Seasons Special Project. The goals of the project were to reduce the length of the calving season and to document the production and economic impact when converting a long calving season (> 200 d) to a short calving season (< 90 d).

In collaboration the producer, county Extension agent and Animal Science faculty developed a three part plan to reduce the length of the calving season. The three parts included 1) determine when cows were calving (annual calving distribution), 2) establish the months and length of the desired calving season and 3) develop a management plan to transition the cow herd to the desired calving season.

Part one of the plan determined the current annual calving distribution (benchmark year). It was typical for a large group of cows to calve January through May, very few cows calving in the summer months (June, July and August) and an additional group calving in the fall. The second part of the plan was the producer determining the desired calving period (months and length). Some producers selected a fall calving season and some a spring calving season. All of the producers selected a calving season of ≤90 days. From the benchmark calving distribution, a plan was developed by the producer, agent and Animal Science faculty to reach the desired calving season (part 3). Supplemental feeding, mineral supplementation, bull breeding soundness examinations and other management factors that could affect reproduction rates were reviewed, and changes were made if necessary. Because of the uniqueness of each farm, a specific plan was designed for each cowherd. The projected dates for the beginning and end of the breeding and calving seasons were determined and monitored yearly.

The average number of years to reach the cooperator's desired cowherd calving season was 3.8 years. The percentage of cows calving during the desired calving season was higher for the final year compared to the benchmark year (92.0% vs. 46.3%, respectively). The mature cow calving percentage did not change from the benchmark year to the final year (89.2% and 87.2%, respectively). The average length of the calving season decreased from 273.3 d in the benchmark year to 85.2 d in the final year.

Due to the limited number of farms and large variability, there were no differences for herd break-even, specific costs per AU and income over specified costs per AU from the benchmark year to the final year. When comparing averages, break-even decreased 30% from $0.61/pound to $0.43/pound from the benchmark year to the final year, respectively. Specified costs per AU decreased 40% from $209.70 to $126.20 from the benchmark year to the final year, respectively, and income over specified cost improved 100% from $95.00/AU to $189.70/AU from the benchmark year to the final year, respectively. Although these differences were not statistically significant, they were financially significant to the cooperators. This provides evidence these farms increased beef production efficiency and improved profitability by decreasing the length of the calving season. Shortening the calving season is perhaps one of the most important and cost-effective practices that can be implemented by a producer.







Feeling a bit cranky to day and reading thru studys isn't one of my strong suits. Once I get past the first few paragraphs my eyes start to glaze over. That being said..........(See, I put it into context. Somthing most studies don't do.)

One thing I wonder is exactly how they figure replacement cost of a cow that has to be discarded because she fall out of the "breeding season" for the herd? One could easly have to take a 50% hit on a cow just because a cow is a month late rebreeding. Spending a $1000 on a cow that you have to liquidate in a year because she misses your season, I am doubtful you are going to do so and get that $1000 back to spend on another. So now your so called increase in pounds for sale has to overcome your increase in replacement cost for cows. Apparently, selling fewer pounds in a drawn out breeding season is caused by selling everything at one time. Putting all your eggs in one basket so to say.

What is the real truth? Are we to eager to feed at the trough of the university studies? Remember, they are farming with tax dollars and must farm them well to get more tax dollars. Are we gaining anything spending a fortune trying to reinvent the wheel?
 

Latest posts

Top