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Home » Cow-Calf » KPI 3-Length of Calving Season

Industry Benchmark:

63 days

Why it’s Important

Shortening your calving season is one of the most impactful things you can do to increase efficiency and improve productivity. Demonstrations from the Arkansas Beef Improvement Program Breeding and Calving Season showed a decrease of 32% in direct cost per animal, a decrease of 38% in breakeven cost, and a 75% improvement in gross margins when calving season was shortened1.

1.Lets get started


Count the number of days between the first and last calf born after the breeding season that has just completed.  Aim for a benchmark of 63 days or 3 estrous cycles of 21 days each.  A shorter calving season will help you achieve more consistent results with the calves you market and will help simplify management during calving time.

2.Making Improvements


Similar to number of open cows, length of calving season can be directly affected by management.  If your cows that produce good, profitable calves have long variable intervals between calves, improving their nutrition will likely help them meet their needs and solve the issue.  Consider culling cows that have usually have long calving intervals and produce light, unprofitable calves.

Tips for shortening your calving season:

Use the length of the previous calving season to estimate the number of open cows after the breeding season.  If there are a few cows with a long time frame between calves, they likely have low fertility.  Several cows with long intervals may indicate a management problem or an issue with the bull.  Shortening the breeding season over a couple of years is recommended over culling a lot of cows at one time, since this could significantly impact your cash flow.  You can shorten the breeding season gradually by exposing the cows to the bull 10 days later and removing him 10 days earlier than when most of the cows became pregnant in the previous breeding season.  Doing this for a couple of years will help shorten the calving season down to 60-70 days.  After you have achieved a calving season of 60-70 days, if you want to shorten the calving season further, you can do this in shorter time frames, such as five days.  You may want to aim for a calving season of 42 days, or two cycles.

 

You can shorten the breeding season gradually by exposing the cows to the bull 10 days later and removing him 10 days earlier than when most of the cows became pregnant in the previous breeding season.

3.Goal Setting


Please create an account to access the goal setting section. This will allow you to login at anytime in the future so you can evaluate how you’ve progressed. You will be given examples of steps you can take to help reach your goal, and will have the opportunity to indicate what your steps will be. Be sure to upload your completed KPI forms in order to access them in the future.

1https://www.uaex.edu/publications/PDF/FSA-3117.pdf

“Reproduction is the #1 key to a cow-calf operation.”
– Don Badour, Owner
DBM Land & Cattle

“We start calving between August 15-20 and try to wrap up by end of September. If we have 5 cows left to calve by mid-October, those calves will never catch up to the others when they are shipped. This is a difference of hundreds of dollars between the late calves and the others.
Your expenses are the same because you still have to feed the cows for the whole season.”
– Don Badour, Owner
DBM Land & Cattle

Additional Resources:

http://www.beefresearch.ca/economicmodel/pregnancy-detection.cfm

http://www.canfax.ca/samples/Preg%20checking%20April%202017.pdf

http://igrow.org/livestock/beef/measuring-cow-herd-performance/

Canfax: http://www.canfax.ca

Cattle Buyers Weekly: http://www.cattlebuyersweekly.com

Further reading:
https://www.canadiancattlemen.ca/2016/12/23/an-industry-in-crisisis-there-a-way-back-cow-calf-producers-hold-the-key/