Set Up Correct Calving Season With Adapted Cattle

The Grazier's Art

Match your calving season to forage growth and your cattle to the environment for best profit.

Published on: November 21, 2013
 

To bring our land and cattle into harmony we need to optimize our forage resources or mesh the animal needs with the forage available in the different seasons of the year.

Let me explain:

Every environment has a growing season when forage growth is surplus to what animals can consume, even when stocked to capacity.

A cow's nutritional needs go up as she approaches calving, with the maximum requirement two to three months later.  If we are serious about maximum sustainable profits we should have cattle that are adapted, produce low amounts of milk, and have inherent good body condition.

Good body condition before calving is important for good rebreeding. That's why it is important to place the calving season around 30-45 days after the start of this surplus of forage.

This usually means the cow will have a calf by her side late fall and into winter, which should not be a problem with correct genetics and good planning for the stockpile on reserve.

In some environments this also means that the breeding season will be in hot weather so we need heat-adapted animals. Where cold winters follow, they also need to be able to shed their coats in spring to handle the summer heat when breeding occurs.

When we mesh the cattle needs with what our environment produces, along with correct genetics, our expenses go way down. We get savings on hay, supplement and medicines, and we get less scours, more peace of mind, and healthier calves.

Healthier calves, of course, are a direct result of calving on green grass as opposed to calving on dry grass. The calf gets its antibodies from the dam and if she is eating green grass full of vitamins, available minerals and other nutrients the calf will be off to a much better start, making for a healthier future replacement cow.

This reduces costs even further.