What are the downsides to fall calving?

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GAonmymind
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Re: What are the downsides to fall calving?

Postby GAonmymind » Thu Jun 01, 2017 9:34 pm

I think the 3 round bales per head is standard here. I retired, moved back to NW GA a few years ago. Dad had been running cattle for decades and that was the advice he gave me. Make sure to have 3 bales per adult cow going into winter. If not, sell some cows. I still supplement with tubs and three way feed.
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Re: What are the downsides to fall calving?

Postby Brute 23 » Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:24 pm

True Grit Farms wrote:
Brute 23 wrote:
True Grit Farms wrote:I feed 3 rolls of hay per cow during the winter. And limit graze oats, rye and ryegrass. My cows look a lot better in the spring then in the fall for sure. And my fertilizer bill is higher during the spring - summer than the fall - winter. This year has been good for the spring calf sales and in 2014 there was a $530.00 dollar difference from my spring calves to fall calves. I'm glad selling in the fall works good for you but, I'm keeping a fall and spring herd. There's no doubt I've done way better with my spring calves than my fall calves the last 5 years.


$530 difference? Fall calves brought $600 and spring calves brought $1130?

Even if it was that much of a spread that does not justify 3 rolls per head and planting winter pasture if you are being honest with yourself about the actual costs of doing that.


You didn't sell any calves in 2015? There was a $1.00+ pound difference between April calves and October calves. It's best for you to do what you think works best for you, and I'll do the same for me. I spent $5k a year feeding the deer before I had cows and I spend $5k a year now feeding cows on the same exact piece of ground. I do well feeding my cows through the winter and so do the deer.


April 2015 to October 2015... I don't have the numbers but ya... I remember it going to like .8 or .9 per lb some where in there. We were also in one heck of a drought that lowered the numbers enough to bring prices up. If you raised calves thru those winters waiting for higher slring prices you were probably highly disappointed. That's hardly justification for running fall calves.

Your quoting these unpredictable snips in time that hardly justify basing a whole business model off of.

Year in and year out, you have the best odds of making money by keeping costs as low as possible. That is done by raising calves on grass. Spending more money than needed in hopes of higher market prices will let you down more times than not, long term.
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Re: What are the downsides to fall calving?

Postby Brute 23 » Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:32 pm

http://www.cattletoday.com/archive/2007 ... 1269.shtml

Pretty good article right here on CT. You can weigh out which sdounds more appealing. Notice the one that has considerably lower costs associated.
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Re: What are the downsides to fall calving?

Postby bird dog » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:09 am

I like the fall or early winter simply because of my forage base. The calves are eating well when I have an abundance of grass and are ready to wean when the grass loses its nutritional value and growth rate at mid-summer.

The early calves born in Sept./Oct weaned off May 1 and are going to OKC this weekend. The next batch will wean off in a couple weeks and go on to pasture.

I merged a herd of fall calvers with the larger herd of winter calvers last year so my calving period is much longer than I prefer and will take a couple years to get it back to where I want it.
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Re: What are the downsides to fall calving?

Postby talltimber » Fri Jun 02, 2017 11:11 am

As usual, I think it depends on your area and what you are trying to do. Spring calving in the south would be warmer, and possibly drier? Not so much here, so you have the calves born in either cold weather ( for us) or wet and possibly cold rain too ( later in the spring, Marchish), plus mud from freezing and thawing. When grass comes on here, with calves born in March or so, the grass gets a head start and they're not picking much that I can tell, until fescue starts tapering off due to heat usually, sometimes there is a shower to two to keep it going very well. Fall calves are born usually to very nice weather. Early calves might need to watch for maggots, but nights are cooling off, and usually very few cool rains until Nov., when I'm done calving. No snow that amounts to anything until Dec. Calves are good size and very capable of utilizing fall stockpiled fescue by Dec if it's available, and at spring greenup they are packing it on. I'm sure there is a cost to a lactating cow, but you also suffer a period of loss of gain in late summer that the dry weather is hurting the wsg and fescue hasn't taken off yet for the spring calvers. For me to sell the same weight calves, Id have to winter the spring calves or sell lighter calves when the price is lower. The same time all the spring calves are coming to town. As it is, I sell early fall also, but I'm in a different weight range. So, for here, pick your poison. You want to winter wet cows or you want to winter spring calves to sell as 800 lbers because they don't gain much in the heat and fescue. I have my first heifers in with bull now, so my first spring calvers of my own. I am not sure I will last, but I needed to try it due to some other issues arising with my current numbers.
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Re: What are the downsides to fall calving?

Postby Hunter » Fri Jun 02, 2017 11:32 am

If you have a fall and spring calving season would that help in diversification?
Meaning maybe the prices are better in the spring vs fall or vice-a-versa.
We produce enough hay to feed our cattle over the winter and don't supplement much so the input costs should be relatively the same.

But I am relatively new to this so just looking for thoughts on above scenario as it might be the same for OP.
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Re: What are the downsides to fall calving?

Postby cowgirl8 » Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:20 pm

Hunter wrote:If you have a fall and spring calving season would that help in diversification?
Meaning maybe the prices are better in the spring vs fall or vice-a-versa.
We produce enough hay to feed our cattle over the winter and don't supplement much so the input costs should be relatively the same.

But I am relatively new to this so just looking for thoughts on above scenario as it might be the same for OP.

You'll feed more hay to wet cows and will have to supplement them, so you'll have to get a higher price when you sell a fall calf in the spring. I think it evens out, but there are people who get starry eyed at the higher prices in the spring and think kind of like you, I have the hay so where is my extra expense...
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Re: What are the downsides to fall calving?

Postby ChrisB » Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:33 pm

I've done both fall and spring. Both have advantages and disadvantages, I prefer fall. I think the argument of how much more feed it takes is overblown for most at least in my area. I see people hauling out several days of good alfalfa and cows stand around wasting hay and getting fat. Those producers probably wouldn't see any increase in cost to winter a wet cow verse a dry cow. If your limit feeding your cows or using a TMR I think the extra feed consumption is valid.

Reasons I switched to fall: After a couple of years of fighting spring blizzards, a lot of rain, scours I thought fall would be much easier - for the most part this is true. At the time I was hauling cows to several pastures and pairing cows and calves up to haul was a pain with my setup, and needing bulls at each location was not ideal. I feed my calves out to slaughter weight and the odds of hitting a higher market price in the spring is better, though not always the case. I didn't like having fat cattle on a hot ration in the hot humid months of July and August. My fall calves are finishing in cooler winter weather and I get to take advantage of the ideal fall conditions, finishing time has decreased. But one year I lost 2 calves that were born during a blizzard.

Things I didn't expect: Calving difficulty is basically zero, could be from culling problem cows, but grass is tailing off and cows are eating less in the months of July and August because of climate - calves seem smaller.

Things I don't like: The only thing I really don't like and it is a big one, is I prefer having all cows home before calving and I pull them off pastures a few weeks early. I've started grazing hay fields after freezing to offset the cost, but I could have done that with spring calvers too. They still spend the winter on corn stalks but they are picked pretty clean by the time snow flies. Calves on grass all summer just looked much nicer.

I feed a lot of corn silage to my cows and have a building only calves can get in. Also I put out straight shelled corn in a creep feeder from December through February, more to give calves extra energy for the cold than for increasing growth but that is a benefit. I pull it before calves start eating too much to give them health problems. I figure the extra cost maintaining a wet cow over winter has been offset in better daily gains in the feedlot and higher prices. Really haven't seen a difference in bottom line. I don't bed my cows and haven't had any frozen tits or nuts on cows or bulls, and I haven't had any frozen ears on calves born in the fall, that's another reason I hear of why I shouldn't fall calve.

My advice is to do whatever you think would be easier for you. You can always find enough stats, figures, and reasons to back up whatever decision you make.
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Re: What are the downsides to fall calving?

Postby NonTypicalCPA » Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:53 pm

Thanks folks for the great info! I was the one proposing the deal as it would open a spot for a breeding heifer/cow which would translate into another calf to sell. I am limited on acreage and my thought is that I would rather have a cow than a bull, especially if I could get my bull back for a few months to breed my cows as I really like him. As proposed it would benefit both parties. However, after reading through the information shared, I'm going to stick with a spring calving season and hang onto my bull. Fist picture was at 12 months, just before I bought him.

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Re: What are the downsides to fall calving?

Postby Hunter » Fri Jun 02, 2017 3:22 pm

cowgirl8 wrote:
Hunter wrote:If you have a fall and spring calving season would that help in diversification?
Meaning maybe the prices are better in the spring vs fall or vice-a-versa.
We produce enough hay to feed our cattle over the winter and don't supplement much so the input costs should be relatively the same.

But I am relatively new to this so just looking for thoughts on above scenario as it might be the same for OP.

You'll feed more hay to wet cows and will have to supplement them, so you'll have to get a higher price when you sell a fall calf in the spring. I think it evens out, but there are people who get starry eyed at the higher prices in the spring and think kind of like you, I have the hay so where is my extra expense...


So, is it a given that prices in the spring are ALWAYS higher than in the fall?
If one has the hay where is the extra expense as it doesn't last forever?
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Re: What are the downsides to fall calving?

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Fri Jun 02, 2017 5:02 pm

I do not supplement my wet cows in the winter. They get the same baleage as the dry cows. Just fed separately so the calves don't have to deal with all the herd.
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Re: What are the downsides to fall calving?

Postby cowgirl8 » Fri Jun 02, 2017 5:42 pm

Hunter wrote:So, is it a given that prices in the spring are ALWAYS higher than in the fall?
If one has the hay where is the extra expense as it doesn't last forever?

It usually is, but this year here it isn't.
If you have the hay, you paid for it whether you baled it yourself or bought it. Feed more hay, you now have more $ in your calf crop, thus, you'll need a higher price to even out...
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Re: What are the downsides to fall calving?

Postby Brute 23 » Fri Jun 02, 2017 6:13 pm

Higher price... thats a pretty broad term. Remember in the cattle world thats still not much, especially if you arent selling 100+ calves a year. I guarantee you... you keep those 15 or 20 calves thru the winter waiting for that big, spring pay check and you will be highly disappointed you wasted that many hours of your life feeding hay chasing peanuts.
Last edited by Brute 23 on Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What are the downsides to fall calving?

Postby True Grit Farms » Fri Jun 02, 2017 8:47 pm

Hunter wrote:
cowgirl8 wrote:
Hunter wrote:If you have a fall and spring calving season would that help in diversification?
Meaning maybe the prices are better in the spring vs fall or vice-a-versa.
We produce enough hay to feed our cattle over the winter and don't supplement much so the input costs should be relatively the same.

But I am relatively new to this so just looking for thoughts on above scenario as it might be the same for OP.

You'll feed more hay to wet cows and will have to supplement them, so you'll have to get a higher price when you sell a fall calf in the spring. I think it evens out, but there are people who get starry eyed at the higher prices in the spring and think kind of like you, I have the hay so where is my extra expense...


So, is it a given that prices in the spring are ALWAYS higher than in the fall?
If one has the hay where is the extra expense as it doesn't last forever?


The prices aren't always higher in the spring. It's just worked out that way here lately. It's proven no one can predict the cattle market, I think the weather men have better odds of being right.
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Re: What are the downsides to fall calving?

Postby snoopdog » Sat Jun 03, 2017 6:54 am

A lot of good points , but selling fall calves in the spring isn't mandatory . If the weather cooperates and you have an abundance of forage , you can easily spread your margin out and pack the pounds on them post weaning. Be flexible, you don't have to give the stockers a profit .
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