Cows grazing native range pasture year round in western South Dakota were allotted to 3 management systems: 1) A calving season starting in mid March with calves weaned in late October; 2) A calving season starting in mid March with calves weaned in mid September; and 3) A calving season starting in early May with calves weaned in late October. The effect of management system on pregnancy rate was year dependent. After 4 years of the study, there was no consistent advantage for any particular group. Average weaning weight was consistently higher for the March calving/October weaned group that was older at weaning than the other two groups. In the first year of the study, severe winter weather caused a higher calf death loss that resulted in a lower weaning percentage for the March calving groups compared to the May calving group. The weaning percentage favored the March calving groups in year 4. With the exception of the first year, the pounds of calf weaned per cow exposed were greater for the March calving/October weaned group compared to the other two systems. An estimate of overall calf income was $30 higher per cow exposed for the March calving/October weaned group compared to the May calving group. In deciding the optimum time to calve, the potential to reduce cost of winter feed, equipment, facilities and labor for a specific situation would need to be considered.
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South Dakota State University
Copyright © 2003 South Dakota State University
Pruitt, Dick; Haigh, Ron; Epperson, William; Fausti, Scott; and Young, Doug, "Effect of Calving Time and Weaning Time on Cow and Calf Performace - A Preliminary Report" (2003). South Dakota Beef Report, 2003. 9.