Actually we were preparing a set of cows for embryo transfer. We worked well into darkness, but I did think about how good it would be to hopefully get a set of good calves on the ground in a short time frame by synchronizing the cows. With my girls busy with softball and basketball year round, plus the other day-to-day activities of work and life, it is good to take advantage of measures that can save you on time and make the farm more efficient. Today, I will talk about tips for the calving season and will share information also from a UGA publication revised by Ted. G Dyer, former UGA Animal Scientist.
A good place to start when giving calving season tips is for cattle producers to think about a controlled breeding season that will result in a controlled calving season. The folks that don’t manage towards a certain calving season will say they like having a calf to sell at different time of the year.
That may be true, but think about the effort it takes to load up a few head, the gas it takes to transport calves throughout the year. A controlled calving season can limit the time you have to check cows for calving problems or dystocia. I would rather be on my high alert for calving problems in a short amount of time than the entire year. Plus, if you calve out in a short window, this opens up more marketing options for your calf crop.
Surely, you want the opportunity for a bigger return on your calves. Staying with the same point, it is also noted that temperature has been shown to have a significant impact on calf birth weight. More specifically, studies have shown that calves born in the fall months weigh less at birth than calves born in the winter or spring months. One link is that the increase of calf size can be due to increased nutrient intake from supplemental feeding of the cowherd in winter.
The cow is eating more so there is more nutrients going to the fetus so the you can end up with more calf grow prior to being born. Also, it is noted to stay away from summer calving if possible. Calves born from May to September will have lower weaning weights than calves born in cooler months. The summer temperature will be stressful on those young calves plus forage can be in more limited supply in hot summer months. Each producer needs to decide what calving time of year works best for him or her in order to market their calves. Many folks want to calve out where the cows can take advantage of spring grass during lactation.
The herd sire or bull selection for your herd is very important in the overall calving season. If you only need one bull on your farm, this could be the single most important management decision on your farm.
The bull will make up half of the genetics of every calf on the place. Find a bull that matches your cow herd the best. Expected Progeny Differences or EPDs can help you select bulls that should result in less chance for calving difficulty. You may also want to incorporate artificial insemination options in your herd and take advantage of established bulls that are used throughout the United states. A.I. is used extensively now in Georgia from many big cow/calf producers all the way to the person with registered herds. You can select based on birth weight or growth EPDs. Many folks will look at a combination of traits rather than select for one single trait or EPD.
Record keeping is also a help in calving season. If you can record breeding dates, then you get approximate calving dates from cattle gestation tables. This way you know what cows to keep an eye on during calving season at particular times. If your cows are tagged and then you tag the calves at birth, you can make sure you can always match momma and baby up anytime you work the herd or in times of calf or cow illness. Records can also help you keep up with which cows had trouble during calving.
Make sure you touch base with your large animal vet prior to calving season. Many cattle producers are skilled enough to handle most calving problem or abnormal presentation births, but there will be times that you will need a veterinarian. A large animal vet can make suggestions on what kind of equipment you need on hand to assist in problem times, plus this way they will know you are out there and where your place is located prior to a farm emergency. Finally, if you raise your own replacement heifers, having a vet do a pelvic and reproductive tract evaluation of those heifers can help you make culling decisions that may limit your calving problems down the road. For more information contact Gordon County Extension at 706-629-8685 or email email@example.com.