Weigh factors before changing calving season

Calving season in our part of the world traditionally has been in the late winter or early spring. However, an increasing number of producers are trying out calving at other times of the year.
Some are calving in the fall, others are calving during January and February, and still others are calving in late spring and early summer.
If you are considering changing or experimenting with when you put the bull out in order to change your calving season, here are some factors to keep in mind:
Grasses, hays, and homegrown grains are basic to cow-calf production. Thus matching the biological cycle of the cow and calf to the forage resource you have available is fundamental in establishing the calving season.
Some research data suggests the optimum time to calve may be 50-55 days before green grass becomes available.
Calf growth also is an important consideration. Ideally you will want to select a time when the cow’s milk production will be maximized and palatable forage is available for the growing calf.
If the calf is to be marketed at weaning, then calf growth is even more important.
The calf’s weight at weaning will be greatly influenced by its age. Therefore, an earlier calving season may be more desirable.
If the calves will be retained and put out on grass the following season as yearlings, then age at weaning is not as important since you can take advantage of compensatory gains the following summer.
In that case, late spring or early summer calving may be the most appropriate.
If possible, calving should occur when labour demands are not in conflict with other activities.
If some other part of your farm operation produces a large or majority portion of your income, you may want to adjust your calving season so conflicts are minimized.
Finally, weather conditions in our area are variable, unpredictable, and sometimes catastrophic. For many, inclement weather during the calving season is the deciding factor when considering the best time for calving.

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