Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
March 4, 1999

Calving Season in Full Swing

Many producers are in full swing of the calving season. Determining when and where you decide to locate the beef herd for this annual production of a marketing coupon varies among individuals. One of the most important considerations is the interaction between the animal and plants you have available. Several producers contend that the February and March months are the ideal calving season. Others prefer later in the spring and summer. Regardless of your calving season preference now is the time to look at the possible economic adjustments.

One very important criteria is matching the cow herd to the available resources on the farm. This is one method of reducing cost of the operation. The cost of feed is a major factor regarding the total cost of maintaining a beef cow. One of the most significant adjustments to reduce the feed cost is considering what forages are available and how we can best use them to meet the nutritional demands of the cow herd. There is a difference in the seasonal effect on nutritional quality of forages.

Working with producers I find there is a wide variation of forages available and the time allotment for management varies within seasons.

If you plan to utilize crop residue this needs to utilized throughout the yearly cow cycle which requires the least amount on nutrition generally after weaning or prior to late gestation. There is a considerable amount of nutrients available form this type of forage. Basically the beef cow is one of the few creatures that can utilize this forage source.

If fescue is the primary forage for your operation then you need to consider a breeding season other than the hot months of summer. It is a well documented fact that fescue containing a high level of endophyte will increase the body temperature as much as 3 to 5 degrees above their normal temperature. This increase in body temperature has a definite impact on conception. For this reason you may want to consider a late summer or fall calving date.

If you have high quality forages then the early spring calving date will fit your program. However, keep in mind that the greatest demands of the yearly cycle of the beef cow throughout lactation and early pregnancy. Recovery from calving for the normal reproduction cycle, providing milk for the new born and in some instances completing their growth are major contributors to the nutritional requirement of the beef cow.

There are other cost reduction factors that you may want to consider. However, nutrition isn't always the largest cost factor. Sometimes we need to take a look at the health and immunization factor to assure a favorable calving and marketing season. No coupon available at the marketing season and there are very few dollars to put in the bank.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - March 4, 1999
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT030499.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004