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Comparing Spring and Fall Calving Seasons John Johns – Animal Sciences Lee Meyer – Agricultural Economics 2007 Agricultural and Natural Resources Update.

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Presentation on theme: "Comparing Spring and Fall Calving Seasons John Johns – Animal Sciences Lee Meyer – Agricultural Economics 2007 Agricultural and Natural Resources Update."— Presentation transcript:

1 Comparing Spring and Fall Calving Seasons John Johns – Animal Sciences Lee Meyer – Agricultural Economics 2007 Agricultural and Natural Resources Update for Agents October 23, 2007

2 Focus: Which calving season is best for our farmers and how they should decide and, Which system is best for which type of farmers? (i.e. there may not be a general, fit all, recommendation)

3 Info Needed for Making Good Decisions: Price Patterns Differences in Production Costs The comfort factor Winter feeding costs Health Issues Moving cows between seasons

4 Issues for Discussion: Increasing number of fall herds in Kentucky – Why? Risk – what about drought years? Small vs. larger operations, one herd – spring OR fall vs. Two herds – spring AND fall Non-traditional (not hay-based) feeding programs Extending ownership past weaning

5 Surveys show the months that most calves are born in Kentucky are February, March, April and September, October and November. Twice as many calves are born in the spring months. Why? Background

6 Spring Calving - Advantages Summer grazing costs are lower Winter feeding – dry cows less supplemental feed needed easy Less overall, year-round management

7 Spring Calving - Disadvantages Weather Mud Cold Rain Ice Market Discounts Selling in the Fall Fescue pastures for rebreeding and calf growth

8 The alternative - Fall calving and Spring Weaning Pros and Cons to Consider: Feeding lactating cows during the winter Productivity differences from a spring calving herd Marketing/grazing options Giving open cows a 2 nd chance Doubling bull use

9 Season of birth, calf birth weight and % calving difficulty Birth Weight, lbs% Calving Problems TrialSpringFallSpringFall OK LA OK OK Reason: fall born calves generally have lighter birth weights compared to spring born.

10 Calving Season, Calf Loss and Cow Conception SeasonFallSpring % Death Loss % Conception Calving Interval, Days 364 Cow Age, yrs Calving Dates9/1 – 11/151/1 – 3/15 JAS 64:687 (5 yr summary from LA)

11 Season of Birth and Calf Weaning Weight FallSpring 205 day weaning wt. lbs Thesis of Gary Hill, 1974 Kentucky

12 Season of Birth and Calf Actual Weaning Weight FallSpring Days of age at weaning Actual weaning weight, lbs Thesis of Gary Hill, 1974 Kentucky

13 Season of Birth and Calf Performance FallSpring Birth Wt. lbs day wt. lbs Wean Wt. lbs (270 days) JAS 64:687 (5 yr summary from LA)

14 Fall Calving Summary More calves to sell Decreased weaning weights Increased sale weights Improved markets Increased nutrient demand Increased ration quality and amount

15 January Rations For Fall or Spring Calving Cows, lbs/cow/day FeedSpringFall Fescue Hay Soy Hulls IRM High Mag.25 Protein Block lb cows calving either 9/1 or 3/1. Fescue hay TDN = 50%, CP = 8.0% dry basis

16 Season of birth and cow hay intake SpringFall Days Fed Tons/Cow % increase20 JAS 64:687 (5 yr summary from LA)

17 Seasonal Price Index – Kentucky Feeder Steer Prices Yr. Avg.

18 Seasonal Price Index – Ky. Feeder Steer Prices ( )

19 Seasonal Price Index – Kentucky Feeder Heifer Prices Yr. Avg.

20 Seasonal Price Index – Ky. Feeder Heifer Prices ( )

21 Feeder Steer Prices lb. M#1 Ky. Avg.

22 Feeder Steer Prices lb. M#1 Ky. Avg.

23 Spring vs. Fall Budgets Spring 3/1; Fall 9/1; sell at 240 days ProductivitySpringFall Wean Wts:500 lbs. Death loss:5%2% Hay fed:1.0 ton1.5 ton Grain fed:5 bu.15 bu. Budgets:

24 Spring vs. Fall Budgets Spring 3/1; Fall 9/1; sell at 240 days EconomicsSpringFall Returns/Cow:$413$488 (+18%) Feed Cost/cow:$197$247 (+25%) Var. Cost/cow:$368$424 Returns over VC$45/cow$64/cow Return to LCM-$70/cow-$51/cow

25 Economics of Weaning Weights Research is not clear on differences in weaning weights; Fall is lower on 205 day basis Practical outcome is that weaning weights are probably the same at 8 mo. weaning age Sensitivity Analysis The breakeven point is a 25 lb. lower weaning weight for fall calving

26 Other Economic Considerations Extend ownership in the spring on fall-born calves – adds $40 - $60/hd. Consider alternative feed ration to reduce winter feeding cost Utilize stockpiled fescue to reduce feeding cost

27 Conclusions and Practicalities Fall calving may be a good option for the single bull herd; Close enough that larger herds may benefit from spring and fall herds; And …


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