By Sandy Johnson, Extension Beef Specialist, Colby
How did the calving season go this year? For western Kansas, milder, drier weather was easier on both cows and calves. However, given the stresses of last winter, cycling and rebreeding may have been delayed in some cows with calves being born later than expected. In other cases, abundant spring moisture making “washy” grass (result is lower nutrient intake) may have hindered resumption of normal estrous cycles. The calving distribution from this year’s calf crop is your score card of how well nutritional and environmental challenges were met. How did you do?
Calculate calving distribution by age or management groups and start counting 21 days from the day the third full term calf was born. Refer to the Sept. 2019 issue of Beef Tips for a more in-depth discussion on calculation of calving distribution. When less than 60% of cows calve in the first 21 days of the calving season there may be some opportunities to alter management that will improve the number of calves born early. Increased weaning weight from older calves needs to cover the cost of any management changes, so it’s important to know your costs of production and use a sharp pencil.
Take a few minutes to calculate this year’s calving distribution and use it as you make decisions on management going forward. It takes time to correct problems from a protracted calving season. If your calving distribution needs improvement, the best course is to plan ahead to meet nutrient needs and have cows in optimal body condition at calving.
If you’re proud of your calving distribution and want to share it with me, please email the details to me at email@example.com. If you want to discuss ways to improve your calving distribution I will be happy to review the situation with you. So ‘just do it”, calculate this year’s calving distribution and use it to guide management strategies going forward.