To Calve in the Spring or Fall?
Sep 09, 2021
Tara Jo Ellerman Countryside Feed Nutrition and Sales Representative
The September 18, 2020 Beef Cattle Institute Cattle Chat podcast discussed differences between fall and spring calving. This is an interesting topic that is great to expand on! According to the podcast, the top 5 differences between these calving seasons are:
Calving Weather Of course there are exceptions, but producers typically find weather during a fall caving season tends to be more favorable. Warmer temperatures make checking cows much more comfortable. Not worrying about consistent freezing temperatures September through November also makes caring for newborn calves less stressful.
Forage Availability Spring calving seasons have an advantage in the availability of good quality forages. Forages are typically dormant when fall calving cows reach their peak milk production and nutritional requirements. This makes supplementing cows much more of a priority in fall calving herds.
Marketing Opportunities Majority of cattle are born in the spring, which means they are weaned and marketed in the fall when prices are low. Calving in the fall on the other hand, allows producers to take advantage of higher prices from a less saturated market.
Feed Costs As mentioned above, supplementing cows and calves is a higher priority in the fall compared to the spring. Not being able to take advantage of lush green grass at the time cows have the highest requirements does increase feed costs for fall calving herds.
Breeding Season Mid-winter breeding season for fall herds can have its advantages over breeding through the heat of mid-summer. Summer heat domes can reduce signs of heat, and bull libido, leading to open cows. Baring an "Arctic outbreak" winter temperatures usually do not impact pregnancy rates.
Many factors can be considered when discussing if fall or spring calving seasons are right for any beef operation. For more insight on the pros and cons of either calving season contact your Countryside Feed Representative.