Does late calving mean late weaning? The Dickinson Research Extension Center changed calving dates, so the bull turnout date this year will be Aug. 1.
A slight adjustment backward by one week was made to better position the birth of the calves between May 1 and May 31. However, that brought up the question:
Does late calving mean late weaning? If one listens carefully, many presenters will hedge. "That depends" is the most common answer.
In reality, cow-calf operations require a certain level of gross income to survive. Very often, the bottom line is discussed, but, for most operations, gross dollars drive the business. If enough money is put into the operation, the expenses seem to get paid and the family seems happy.
That probably is very poor economics. Most would agree that better money tracking always is warranted, but it does take gross income to have net income.
The challenge in late calving is pretty obvious. Calving two months later means 60 days of missed growth if one assumes a producer weans and sells on traditional dates. Those 60 days at a typical average daily gain of 2.5 pounds would be equivalent to 150 pounds.
Although market reports can be found in many publications, for discussion purposes, let's say that those calves could sell for $1.50 to $1.75 per pound in mid-November. The gross dollars will be shorted by $225 to $262 if assuming that these are typical calves that are bawling at a typical auction barn. These later-born calves certainly are going to be bawling loud and certainly will have a greater incidence of health issues if sold right off the cow.
Management change No. 2 following the changing of the bull turnout date becomes pretty obvious. To maintain some semblance of normalcy while sitting in the auction ring, it would appear that later-born calves may need to be weaned later and certainly need to be kept at home to be grown. Home and grown could mean that the calf is on the cow or off the cow. It is the producer's choice.
The best answer at this point again appears to be "that depends." Before another major managerial change is made, please note that it is perhaps an unfair assumption that the typical beef producer cannot lower production costs greater than the $225- to $262-per-cow hit the producer takes in calf value.
Regardless of the total cost reduction within the herd, that is a lot of money on a per-cow basis. With costs going up, it maybe still is a worthy challenge.
Ultimately, it will be up to the individual producer.