I don't know of any enterprise that a person could be involved with that would be more dependent on the weather than field crop production. A person can have the best management plan possible in regards to seed, fertilizer, weed control, disease control, marketing, etc. However, if Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, the best plans simply aren't going to be as successful. There are some species of livestock where the impacts of weather have been minimalized through production systems. Modern swine and poultry production come to mind. Cattle producers are definitely impacted by weather through the impacts on forage growth.
Grain and livestock producers are easily frustrated by the impacts of weather. We spend a lot of time cussing and discussing the weather but there is very little we are going to do to change it. If you need to spend time worrying about something, do it on something you can actually control. For cow-calf producers, now is the time to manage your breeding season and consider its effects on your entire operation.
If you are involved in a spring calving season, you are already into or will soon be in the midst of breeding season. Several seedstock producers have been in breeding season for several weeks in order to hopefully produce breeding stock for potential customers. Typical commercial producers are just starting or will soon begin their breeding season.
The 2007-08 National Animal Health Management System (NAHMS) Beef Study surveyed producers from across the country on a variety of management practices. In terms of percentage of calves born by month and percentage of operations calving by month, the top five months for calving were: 1st: March, 2nd: April, 3rd: February, 4th: May, and 5th: January. Producers returning surveys at the 2013 Ohio Beef Cattle School indicated a very similar preference for months to calve. The NAHMS Study also indicated that tradition and weather were the top two factors used when determining the timing of the most recent calving season.
Obviously, the length of the breeding season impacts the duration of the calving season. The previously mentioned NAHMS Study also surveyed producer attitudes in regards to the length of the breeding season. The survey reported that in regards to length of their last breeding season, 26.2% of the operations were less than 64 days, 12.7% between 64 and 84 days, 21.9% between 85 and 105 days, 16.8% between 106 and 149 days, and 22.4% at 150 days or more.
Based on the results of the most recent NAHMS Beef Study and information that we gained from the 2013 Ohio Beef Cattle School, I believe these statistics accurately reflect the attitudes of Ohio cow-calf operations towards their breeding season management. Each producer must select the timing of their calving season that works best within the overall scope of their respective operations. I may prefer a January-February calving season while an April-May calving season may work best for you. However, I believe there is much less room for debate in terms of the length of the calving season.