Weigh Pros and Cons of Fall versus Spring Calving
by: Darrell Rankins, Ph.D, Alabama Cooperative Ext. System Animal Scientist
On numerous occasions the topic of calving in the fall versus calving in the spring has come up as a topic of discussion among cattlemen. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with each of them and as with most management decisions it becomes a matter of which fits your production scenario the best.
Fall calving. Most cattlemen who utilize a fall calving season calve during the months of September through November. Ideally, the system would allow for the first calf heifers to calve in early September and then be followed by the mature cows that would finish calving by the end of November. The two main disadvantages of this system are that during calving season an adequate supply of good quality forage (pasture) is not available. Warm season forages have dramatically declined in quality by this time and cool season forages have not yet produced appreciable growth by this time of the year. The second factor that makes fall calving unattractive for some producers is the fact that you will need to feed a lactating cow a lot more feed during the winter than you will a pregnant, non lactating cow.