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The Midwest Cattleman · March 31, 2022 · P16
                                                                              Calving Distribution

                                                                              Affects Herd Health

                                                                                    By Olivia Amundson, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist

                                                                              Preparing for calving sea- ing multiple rations, since nu-
                                                                            son is always a busy time of  tritional requirements should
                                                                            year. Depending on the time  be relatively uniform.
                                                                            of year cows start calving will      Furthermore, cows receiv-
                                                                            determine what type of prepa- ing adequate nutrition main-
                                                                            rations and facilities are need- tain an appropriate body con-
                                                                            ed. Nonetheless, cows calving  dition score. Cows should be
                                                                            within a defined calving peri- managed to maintain a Body
                                                                            od allow those preparations to  Condition Score (BCS) of 5 to
                                                                            be more focused on labor and  5.5 throughout the production
                                                                            management.                       cycle to avoid compromising
                                                                              Research shows cows calv- reproductive success. Cows in
                                                                            ing earlier in the calving sea- early lactation have higher
                                                                            son remain in the herd lon- nutrient  requirements,  and
                                                                            ger than their herd mates  therefore, require a greater
                                                                            that calve later, but also raise  quality and quantity of feed.
                                                                            heavier calves that out-per- When the majority of cows are
                                                                            form their younger counter- calving around a consolidat-
                                                                            parts. However, an additional  ed time point, supplementing
                                                                            benefit of a defined calving  the increased feed required to
                                                                            season is the increased ability  meet requirements is stream-
                                                                            to manage the health of both  lined and consistent. This al-
                                                                            cow and calf.                     lows for more accurate alloca-

                                                                            Earlier Calving Equals            tion of feed and helps simplify
                                                                            Better Health                     maintaining a more-consistent
                                                                              National         benchmarks     body condition score across
                                                                            suggest 63% of the cowherd        the herd. It’s important to re-
                                                                                                              member that even with a con-
                                                                            should calve in the first 21
                                                                            days of the calving season,       solidated calving season and
                                                                                                              the correct quality and quan-
                                                                            87%  by  42  days,  and  96%  by
                                                                            63 days. Extending the calving    tity of feed, without adequate
                                                                                                              bunk space (2 ft./hd.), social
                                                                            season beyond these parame-
                                                                            ters compromises a producer’s     challenges between animals
                                                                                                              can occur, and cows can fall be-
                                                                            ability to capture the maxi-
                                                                            mum value for a set of calves     hind. If competition between
                                                                                                              animals  continues,  managing
                                                                            under most management sce-
                                                                            narios. One major benefit to a    younger females separately
                                                                                                              should be considered to mini-
                                                                            front-loaded calving season is
                                                                            the ease of allocating and de-    mize the issue and ensure con-
                                                                                                              sistent feed delivery.
                                                                            livering feed resources. Cows
                                                                            calving at similar times allow  Colostrum
                                                                            more cows to be in similar pro-      When the calving season
                                                                            duction, which in turn allows  is consolidated, nutritional
                                                                            feed resources to be fed more  requirements are more syn-
                                                                            accurately across the herd and  chronous across the herd, and
                                                                            minimizes the need for balanc- these benefits extend beyond
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