Adjusted Calving Season by the Numbers

Beef | Posts

Cow-calf producers using Summit Livestock Facilities monoslopes can adjust their operations to bringing cows and calves under-roof full-time or part time. Adjusting away from a spring calving season helps cattle producers optimize marketing options. Typically, markets tend to be lowest when supplies are high. 

For example, feeder steer prices are usually lowest in January/February, before pastures are up and growing. Markets also tend to slump July through October, or the time when spring calves are weaned. Feeder calf prices are usually highest in March – May, when calves born in the fall are weaned and grass is greening. They also pick up November-December when feeder calf supplies are low across the marketplace.

Similar cycles are prevalent for other classes of cattle. The chart below, provided by the Iowa Beef Center, punctuates this fluctuating market pattern between 2005 and 2014.

Many cow-calf operators also have cropland and need to be ready to hit the field come planting time. By shifting the calving season back to early January, for example, these producers would allow calving, estrous synchronization and AI to be completed before the planting season began. Calves born in this system could be early weaned and marketed as heavier feeders (700-800 lbs) at 8-10 months of age.

That helps producers capitalize on higher seasonal prices common in the September to December period. Early weaning would allow calves to be fed to gain faster, while simultaneously reducing cow nutrient requirements and feed cost by extending the amount of time cows are in the second trimester of gestation without lactation (i.e. lowest requirements of the production cycle) and capitalizing on higher seasonal cull cow prices (May to Aug).


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