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More uniform calf crops: Shorter calving seasons can improve the bottom line

For many producers across Canada, calving season has just begun or will soon begin. For other producers this is the time to shift gears into the start of the breeding season. Establishing and maintaining breeding momentum is important. Once a cow is bred in the first part of the breeding season, she has a greater likelihood of breeding back early in the years to follow. Cows that are bred early will have calves that have greater potential to gain by weaning time, resulting in a uniform calf crop and improved profitability.

There is an opportunity for producers to evaluate their calving distribution and the impact it has on their bottom line. Now is a good time for farmers and ranchers to incorporate any changes they want during breeding season, such as when to pull their bulls, that will affect next year’s calf crop.

Each time a cow is not bred during a 21-day heat cycle, it can cost up to 48 lbs of weaning weight (assuming an average daily gain on calves of 2.3 lbs/day). Having more calves born in the first 21 days of the calving season allows producers to market larger, more uniform groups of calves and increase their profit potential.

The standard industry target is to have at least 60% of females calving within the first cycle, followed by 25% calving between 21-42 days, 10% between 42-63 days and the remaining 5% calving in the fourth and final cycle. An ideal distribution could be 70-20-10 with a condensed breeding season of three cycles (63 days).

To evaluate your current calving distribution and determine what the impact on your revenue would be if you move to the industry target of 60-25-10-5, or a condensed breeding season of three cycles (63 days) at 70-20-10, you can enter your own herd data into the Value of Calving Distribution Calculator. As with all decision-making tools, you must consider the balance between any increased revenue with the cost of making a management change and achieving the goal.

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