Cow/calf operations are most efficiently ran and most profitable when there is a controlled, defined breeding season. There are a number of reasons to choose to calve at certain times of the year, including labor availability, grass availability for weaned calves, market price of calves at certain times of the year, the ability to create a load of uniform calves to sell at a better price, availability of facilities to name a few, and removing the guess work out of when to expect calves, allowing you to monitor cows who may need help delivering a calf. In Western North Carolina, we tend to see farms fall into one of four camps:
- 365 days per year – the bull is free to roam with the cows 365 days a year, with calves arriving sporadically throughout the year.
- Fall calving– typically calves are born October-December
- Spring calving – typically calves are born January-March
- Spring and Fall – Part of the herd calves in the fall and the other part in the spring to provide two calf crops per year.
We urge clients to move to a defined breeding season to maximize their profits and make management of the herd much easier. The graphic below shows how to go from calving all year round to a defined season over a period of 3 years.