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Autumn Calving

  • 10-03-2021 11:49pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 4,677 ✭✭✭


    Hi all. I think this has been discussed before but I couldn’t find the thread so decided to open a new one. While we’re all in the middle of Spring Calving now autumn calving might be far from the mind but it’s getting to a good stage to judge the benefits and drawbacks of both.

    So I’m interested to know if anyone is doing only autumn calving or those doing both what do you think is best? Does anyone have up to date costings for it?

    I did a bit of rough working out and think that if cows are getting meal here they’re getting 4kgs a week which comes in at around £1 per week. If we put that over 20/25 weeks then that’s about £25 over the winter. I haven’t considered silage because both spring and autumn calves get that, maybe autumn a bit more but that could be offset by the fact they use much less straw.

    Anyhow that might be something to get the minds ticking over. I welcome any advice or even tell me if there are gaping holes in my thinking, I’m not too precious about it.


«1

Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,918 ✭✭✭Hard Knocks


    squinn2912 wrote: »
    Hi all. I think this has been discussed before but I couldn’t find the thread so decided to open a new one. While we’re all in the middle of Spring Calving now autumn calving might be far from the mind but it’s getting to a good stage to judge the benefits and drawbacks of both.

    So I’m interested to know if anyone is doing only autumn calving or those doing both what do you think is best? Does anyone have up to date costings for it?

    I did a bit of rough working out and think that if cows are getting meal here they’re getting 4kgs a week which comes in at around £1 per week. If we put that over 20/25 weeks then that’s about £25 over the winter. I haven’t considered silage because both spring and autumn calves get that, maybe autumn a bit more but that could be offset by the fact they use much less straw.

    Anyhow that might be something to get the minds ticking over. I welcome any advice or even tell me if there are gaping holes in my thinking, I’m not too precious about it.
    Do 50:50here which works out for labour
    There is additional cost for the autumn calves but once the calves hit grass in the spring they thrive
    Also cows are incalf leaving the shed
    Silage needs to be good quality


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 1,869 Mod ✭✭✭✭Albert Johnson


    squinn2912 wrote: »
    Hi all. I think this has been discussed before but I couldn’t find the thread so decided to open a new one. While we’re all in the middle of Spring Calving now autumn calving might be far from the mind but it’s getting to a good stage to judge the benefits and drawbacks of both.

    So I’m interested to know if anyone is doing only autumn calving or those doing both what do you think is best? Does anyone have up to date costings for it?

    I did a bit of rough working out and think that if cows are getting meal here they’re getting 4kgs a week which comes in at around £1 per week. If we put that over 20/25 weeks then that’s about £25 over the winter. I haven’t considered silage because both spring and autumn calves get that, maybe autumn a bit more but that could be offset by the fact they use much less straw.

    Anyhow that might be something to get the minds ticking over. I welcome any advice or even tell me if there are gaping holes in my thinking, I’m not too precious about it.

    Would 4kg a week not be very little meal to a cow feeding a calf over the winter? I suppose it depends on your silage quality but I'd struggle to see how a cow could rear a calf, go back incalf and maintain body condition over winter on roughly 1/2 a kilo of meal and average quality silage. You'd also have to supplement the calves directly as they got older and the cow's milk supply diminished especially on a diet of mainly silage.

    Autumn calving isn't that popular locally which could tell it's own story but that's not sole basis to dismiss it. You'd want good facilities for over wintering the calves alongside the cow's especially as the calves got older and required more space. In theory with spring calving you could turnout cow's as they calved and if you timed it roughly to grass growth you'd only be dealing with smaller younger calves indoors as opposed to near weanlings in the early spring.

    The few men I know that calve in the autumn maintain you were better calving in July/August as opposed to September/October as you'll have stronger calves that are less susceptible to pneumonia or scour when housed. Calving earlier in the autumn brings it's own problems including risk of summer mastitis, trying to restrict grass to cow's near calving, bigger calves at birth ect.

    Would you be keeping the weanlings onto stores or selling off the cow? If you were to sell out of the shed as weanlings in let's say April would they cover the increased costs compared to a spring born calf sold at similar weights in the backend. By that stage you have all the hard work done and were you better to put to grass and sell at 12 month's old in the autumn. Of course you'd need the acreage to run them alongside the incalf cow's for the summer. Autumn calving seemed more popular locally back 10 year's ago when there was a solid market for heavy weanlings for bull beef. There was a few lad's used to sell autumn born weanlings the following backend at 450-550 kg at 10-12 months old. Those sort of stock aren't in demand anymore and most of them changed back to spring calving as a result.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    squinn2912 wrote: »
    Hi all. I think this has been discussed before but I couldn’t find the thread so decided to open a new one. While we’re all in the middle of Spring Calving now autumn calving might be far from the mind but it’s getting to a good stage to judge the benefits and drawbacks of both.

    So I’m interested to know if anyone is doing only autumn calving or those doing both what do you think is best? Does anyone have up to date costings for it?

    I did a bit of rough working out and think that if cows are getting meal here they’re getting 4kgs a week which comes in at around £1 per week. If we put that over 20/25 weeks then that’s about £25 over the winter. I haven’t considered silage because both spring and autumn calves get that, maybe autumn a bit more but that could be offset by the fact they use much less straw.

    Anyhow that might be something to get the minds ticking over. I welcome any advice or even tell me if there are gaping holes in my thinking, I’m not too precious about it.

    We calve around early June

    We feed no meal to cows only good silage

    We give the calves ad lib feed licks in the shed

    We house cows / calves if possible in early december with the odd bale of hay outside till then

    We house cattle born the previous year at the same time or later if possible


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,418 ✭✭✭Jb1989


    Barktastic wrote: »
    We calve around early June

    We feed no meal to cows only good silage

    We give the calves ad lib feed licks in the shed

    We house cows / calves if possible in early december with the odd bale of hay outside till then

    We house cattle born the previous year at the same time or later if possible

    Similar here. Cows calve from May day till June outside.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,194 ✭✭✭Dozer1


    Spilt calving here too due to farm setup. I refuse to feed nuts to sucklers so I generally might feed the calves abit in the creep area alright.

    Didn't bother this year and they don't seem too far behind other years. Silage is generally good. No issues so far with cows going back in calf they are no oil paintings by the time calf comes off them but they get 2 to 3 months to recover. Low cost all the way in my book


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  • Registered Users Posts: 184 ✭✭nqtfarmer


    Barktastic wrote: »
    We calve around early June

    We feed no meal to cows only good silage

    We give the calves ad lib feed licks in the shed

    We house cows / calves if possible in early december with the odd bale of hay outside till then

    We house cattle born the previous year at the same time or later if possible
    We run a similar system here but sell Summer born calves as weanlings in spring of the following year. I’d like to carry the weanling over the summer and sell as a store. Do ye house for a second winter??


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    nqtfarmer wrote: »
    We run a similar system here but sell Summer born calves as weanlings in spring of the following year. I’d like to carry the weanling over the summer and sell as a store. Do ye house for a second winter??
    We do, finish them then at around 2 years


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Dozer1 wrote: »
    Spilt calving here too due to farm setup. I refuse to feed nuts to sucklers so I generally might feed the calves abit in the creep area alright.

    Didn't bother this year and they don't seem too far behind other years. Silage is generally good. No issues so far with cows going back in calf they are no oil paintings by the time calf comes off them but they get 2 to 3 months to recover. Low cost all the way in my book

    The meal licks are a good way of keeping feed in to the calves without going in with buckets and getting kicked

    I gave growvite forte to the young cows around 3 years this year and they say its good. The younger cows lose a bit of condition sometimes. I like to keep them in a bay or two with plenty of room.

    I find the pneumonia vaccine good if Autumn calving.

    I dont feed meal to the yearlings in the shed either, I find the silage is grand and they bounce back well outside anyway. Meal feeding just turns cattle in to pure corner boys hanging around. Id rather spend the money on vitamin licks, silage or vaccines.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Jb1989 wrote: »
    Similar here. Cows calve from May day till June outside.
    Its a good time of the year to do calving as the days are longer and the weather is better.

    Also, scours are rare if calved outside. Another benefit is the calf will be that bit older for the bad weather and for going thus will be a bit more resistant to pneumonia.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭lab man


    Barktastic wrote: »
    Its a good time of the year to do calving as the days are longer and the weather is better.

    Also, scours are rare if calved outside. Another benefit is the calf will be that bit older for the bad weather and for going thus will be a bit more resistant to pneumonia.

    I find that to do them at sept 1st with the vaccine will get you through most of the winter


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  • Registered Users Posts: 640 ✭✭✭k mac


    Jb1989 wrote: »
    Similar here. Cows calve from May day till June outside.
    Do you find any particular breed/type of cow more suited to outside calving, and is the bull given (if AI) also a consideration


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,418 ✭✭✭Jb1989


    k mac wrote: »
    Do you find any particular breed/type of cow more suited to outside calving, and is the bull given (if AI) also a consideration

    No tbh,

    limousine cross cows calveing down to simentaul bull.

    They used calve earlier but slipped bit over years.

    Just enough grass on fields close to house, not over fat and well exercised, no real difference to inside apart from the reduced scour chance and general bacteria free area.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,677 ✭✭✭squinn2912


    Calving May or June sounds crazy late but I do see the benefits too. Our last straglers calved in late May last year and they all fired the calves out no problem. I feel though that cows and calves would take more advantage of the grass born no later than March or April. A Feb/March calf is some animal beside a May one in July or August during grazing season. Depends what the plan for them is.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,677 ✭✭✭squinn2912


    Would 4kg a week not be very little meal to a cow feeding a calf over the winter? I suppose it depends on your silage quality but I'd struggle to see how a cow could rear a calf, go back incalf and maintain body condition over winter on roughly 1/2 a kilo of meal and average quality silage. You'd also have to supplement the calves directly as they got older and the cow's milk supply diminished especially on a diet of mainly silage.

    Autumn calving isn't that popular locally which could tell it's own story but that's not sole basis to dismiss it. You'd want good facilities for over wintering the calves alongside the cow's especially as the calves got older and required more space. In theory with spring calving you could turnout cow's as they calved and if you timed it roughly to grass growth you'd only be dealing with smaller younger calves indoors as opposed to near weanlings in the early spring.

    The few men I know that calve in the autumn maintain you were better calving in July/August as opposed to September/October as you'll have stronger calves that are less susceptible to pneumonia or scour when housed. Calving earlier in the autumn brings it's own problems including risk of summer mastitis, trying to restrict grass to cow's near calving, bigger calves at birth ect.

    Would you be keeping the weanlings onto stores or selling off the cow? If you were to sell out of the shed as weanlings in let's say April would they cover the increased costs compared to a spring born calf sold at similar weights in the backend. By that stage you have all the hard work done and were you better to put to grass and sell at 12 month's old in the autumn. Of course you'd need the acreage to run them alongside the incalf cow's for the summer. Autumn calving seemed more popular locally back 10 year's ago when there was a solid market for heavy weanlings for bull beef. There was a few lad's used to sell autumn born weanlings the following backend at 450-550 kg at 10-12 months old. Those sort of stock aren't in demand anymore and most of them changed back to spring calving as a result.

    Meant to get back to this earlier up calving held me up. Em yea it sounds like very little but I took a good look at the 20 autumn girls and they’re not thin. The heifers are gone a wee bit poor but when they go out to grass they’ll tighten up. Then it’ll be a job keeping them going too good over the summer. There are some cows getting no meal. All scanned last week. I think there are 3 of 20 not in calf. Might just be 2. One is a mature cow another a heifer that is in calf to twins but the man reckons she’s going to absorb them. Not a feeding issue I dont think. The other is a maiden heifer. Give her a chance with the spring girls this breeding season because she’s from a great cow and she’s very quiet.

    Silage quality is good not fantastic from my memory of the sample. But yea calves are getting 2kgs so there is that. But you have some weanling for the grass. They might go into the shed or sell them as stores we’ll see. I’d never sell them in April because they haven’t had long enough on grass May can be a good month in an early turnout. But no unlikely to sell because they will be needed to put on out farms to graze them. Got the bales bill yesterday and it was eye watering. I would disagree with your point on demand for stock, animals around 500kgs were a mad trade last backend. We kept ours a little longer and took them to 600 and that had them coming in around £1300 so I think they’re covering themselves.

    On housing, they were all out to an extent, in 2 groups. One in and out of a yard with roofing to lie under. The other in a yard and shed to go into with a creep gate made up for calves to lie in a pen.

    Yep we calve in August and September with a few late ones. No issues with pneumonia this year thank God. Mastitis is a problem and it happens with autumn girls more often for us. I did them for swish and put oil on their udders but 3 of the 20 still had it. 2 of them got milk back in the quarters and both were heifers so I was pleased about that.will have to get at them earlier this year.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,418 ✭✭✭Jb1989


    squinn2912 wrote: »
    Calving May or June sounds crazy late but I do see the benefits too. Our last straglers calved in late May last year and they all fired the calves out no problem. I feel though that cows and calves would take more advantage of the grass born no later than March or April. A Feb/March calf is some animal beside a May one in July or August during grazing season. Depends what the plan for them is.

    I try be different. 24 and 30 months limits in factorys suited me too, as I was killing when cattle of that age were scarce and prices at there best.
    Calf thrive is another debate. I keep to kill, so the next year always balances thrive.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,219 ✭✭✭Dunedin


    Is it not harder to watch cows if calving outdoors with no cameras.

    I assume that with calving outside that all calves are left to suck themselves? Does that ever be an issue. Most of calves indoors would get up and suck themselves but I’d often see a calf that hadn’t sucked in two hours and I’d just put the cow in the head gate and get the calf going. Let’s me go to bed with peace of mind.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 1,869 Mod ✭✭✭✭Albert Johnson


    squinn2912 wrote: »
    Meant to get back to this earlier up calving held me up. Em yea it sounds like very little but I took a good look at the 20 autumn girls and they’re not thin. The heifers are gone a wee bit poor but when they go out to grass they’ll tighten up. Then it’ll be a job keeping them going too good over the summer. There are some cows getting no meal. All scanned last week. I think there are 3 of 20 not in calf. Might just be 2. One is a mature cow another a heifer that is in calf to twins but the man reckons she’s going to absorb them. Not a feeding issue I dont think. The other is a maiden heifer. Give her a chance with the spring girls this breeding season because she’s from a great cow and she’s very quiet.

    Silage quality is good not fantastic from my memory of the sample. But yea calves are getting 2kgs so there is that. But you have some weanling for the grass. They might go into the shed or sell them as stores we’ll see. I’d never sell them in April because they haven’t had long enough on grass May can be a good month in an early turnout. But no unlikely to sell because they will be needed to put on out farms to graze them. Got the bales bill yesterday and it was eye watering. I would disagree with your point on demand for stock, animals around 500kgs were a mad trade last backend. We kept ours a little longer and took them to 600 and that had them coming in around £1300 so I think they’re covering themselves.

    On housing, they were all out to an extent, in 2 groups. One in and out of a yard with roofing to lie under. The other in a yard and shed to go into with a creep gate made up for calves to lie in a pen.

    Yep we calve in August and September with a few late ones. No issues with pneumonia this year thank God. Mastitis is a problem and it happens with autumn girls more often for us. I did them for swish and put oil on their udders but 3 of the 20 still had it. 2 of them got milk back in the quarters and both were heifers so I was pleased about that.will have to get at them earlier this year.

    If you had good quality silage and were able to have them running in and out of a shed over winter then it would change the dynamics of it. I was coming to it from the viewpoint locally of poor to average quality silage and realistically looking at housing them from November through to May. Granted you'd have a strong weanling going to grass the following spring but the cow would have spent the most intensive months of the year rearing a calf in the shed.

    I was referring to the demand for heavy bull weanlings being nearly none existent in recent year's. Most of the lads I used to see at autumn calving locally used to sell bull weanlings 450kg and over at the first of the weanling sales in July/August or kill out of the shed as bulls before there second Xmas. Obviously now you'd want to squeeze them if keeping over the summer and there's always demand for quality type forward store cattle provided ages and movements are correct. It seems to work for you and that's the main thing, you'll always have complications with any system.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Dunedin wrote: »
    Is it not harder to watch cows if calving outdoors with no cameras.

    I assume that with calving outside that all calves are left to suck themselves? Does that ever be an issue. Most of calves indoors would get up and suck themselves but I’d often see a calf that hadn’t sucked in two hours and I’d just put the cow in the head gate and get the calf going. Let’s me go to bed with peace of mind.
    Have them calving in a small field near to the house, that way they are easily checked.

    I rarely have to put a calf on the cow unless there are twins and she drops one


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,027 ✭✭✭minerleague


    Jb1989 wrote: »
    Similar here. Cows calve from May day till June outside.

    Can I ask when do you wean your cows?, often have 1 or 2 in may and don't ever seem to catch up to earlier ones. Wean in one go here so later born might be under cow for 6 or 7 months.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,418 ✭✭✭Jb1989


    Dunedin wrote: »
    Is it not harder to watch cows if calving outdoors with no cameras.

    I assume that with calving outside that all calves are left to suck themselves? Does that ever be an issue. Most of calves indoors would get up and suck themselves but I’d often see a calf that hadn’t sucked in two hours and I’d just put the cow in the head gate and get the calf going. Let’s me go to bed with peace of mind.

    Have no cameras, had moocall but seldom used now.

    Beside the house and along the road, there usually someone passing to keep eye when I'm away , have had more caualtys inside with calveing against walls and slipping on concrete than I've had outside on the green sod.
    Take the chance on them haveing sucked, usualy try grab some tit to see milk is passing and it's not sealed.
    Odd one may have to be led up to shed to check better in crush admittedly.
    Calveing outside in there natural environment possibly helps with the instincts of a calve to suck and a cow to mother.
    Mineral blocks left out, with an odd pick of meal every so often with additional minerals.
    Now all this may be difficult with a big herd, suits me tho with a smaller herd.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,418 ✭✭✭Jb1989


    Can I ask when do you wean your cows?, often have 1 or 2 in may and don't ever seem to catch up to earlier ones. Wean in one go here so later born might be under cow for 6 or 7 months.

    Will wean around now. Leaveing 6 or 8 weeks to come back in condition.
    Calves on around 2 kg of homemade straight mix during the winter with run of cow and creep area.
    Cows and calves are self weaned around now as the milk has dried up anyway.


  • Registered Users Posts: 640 ✭✭✭k mac


    Jb1989 wrote: »
    Will wean around now. Leaveing 6 or 8 weeks to come back in condition.
    Calves on around 2 kg of homemade straight mix during the winter with run of cow and creep area.
    Cows and calves are self weaned around now as the milk has dried up anyway.

    Are the calves left in the creep all the time when housed or on the slats


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,418 ✭✭✭Jb1989


    k mac wrote: »
    Are the calves left in the creep all the time when housed or on the slats

    They have the run of both, slats for silage and trough for mail at back.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,677 ✭✭✭squinn2912


    If you had good quality silage and were able to have them running in and out of a shed over winter then it would change the dynamics of it. I was coming to it from the viewpoint locally of poor to average quality silage and realistically looking at housing them from November through to May. Granted you'd have a strong weanling going to grass the following spring but the cow would have spent the most intensive months of the year rearing a calf in the shed.

    I was referring to the demand for heavy bull weanlings being nearly none existent in recent year's. Most of the lads I used to see at autumn calving locally used to sell bull weanlings 450kg and over at the first of the weanling sales in July/August or kill out of the shed as bulls before there second Xmas. Obviously now you'd want to squeeze them if keeping over the summer and there's always demand for quality type forward store cattle provided ages and movements are correct. It seems to work for you and that's the main thing, you'll always have complications with any system.

    Yep decent silage is vital. We had the autumn bulling heifers in a field next to a yard with a ring feeder. They did great over the winter and they;re in the best of form.

    I’d echo what’s been said about calving outside. You miss the camera alright but cow is in better shape to calve, she has much better grip too and then the calf has an advantage too that way to get up and going. We try to calve especially heifers in the field beside the yard and crush in case they need to be brought in. If there was one we weren’t confident would go to morning then we’d let her cod about the yard. Try to calve heifers a little earlier. I’m a teacher so July and August watching them overnight is less of a trauma. Can remember 2 summers ago 3 lovely Zag heifers calved to Ivor, 2 calved themselves around 11 and 1 and then the last girl took an almighty pull at about 5 or so. We sold them as they weren’t in the calving group and it suited to pay a few bills but I’m still ragin we let them go. Sure you can’t keep them all.


  • Registered Users Posts: 120 ✭✭Farm365


    I’m thinking of moving to Autumn calving too. It would suit from a cash flow point of view and it would mean less competition for early grass between the ewes and cattle. If you calved in July/August could you winter the calves on forage crops or would they be too young? They would still have access to the yard through a creep gate. Is there much demand for weanlings in March/April?


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,677 ✭✭✭squinn2912


    Farm365 wrote: »
    I’m thinking of moving to Autumn calving too. It would suit from a cash flow point of view and it would mean less competition for early grass between the ewes and cattle. If you calved in July/August could you winter the calves on forage crops or would they be too young? They would still have access to the yard through a creep gate. Is there much demand for weanlings in March/April?

    Be great to hear how it’s going for you. Your rationale makes sense to me. I’ve a neighbour reckons it’s cod’s craic autumn calving but he calves 60 cows in spring and that’s a crucifixion. He’s not a believer in easy calving either and tends to have a lot of difficult calvings. I wouldn’t know too much about forage crops so it’ll be good to hear peoples opinions on that but I’d have thought they’re more for dry cows and a bit rough for wee calves. I’d be giving them the best stuff I had or could get. Once they can get into the yard to lie and get a pinch of meal then no issue there imo.
    On March/April I think you’re throwing away your cattle. I’d wait on to May or June depending on the year. Lads buy those types when they have grass I think so in March they might not have even space or feeding for new cattle. I rang a couple of lads I know that are agents once when we were taking weanlings to the mart and they told me they were a bit too calfy for the men they were buying for. Some lads don’t seem to want to buy something that they need to winter so I guess that’s a concern too. I got them sold ok without them anyhow but since I think you’re better keeping them until they’re a bit more forward store type beasts.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,607 ✭✭✭Lime Tree Farm


    Can I safely spray diluted jeyes fluid on a cow's teats to keep away the flies.

    She gets spot-on and fly repellent on the udder every 4 weeks and still has flies are on the teat openings. She is due Sept. She was dry cow tubed.



  • Registered Users Posts: 29,056 ✭✭✭✭whelan2


    Stockholm tar on the teats will keep flies away for a week. Not the spray stuff



  • Registered Users Posts: 8,044 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey


    Are the garlic licks any good for keeping flies away? I'm not a fan of lick buckets per se as you can't control how much each animal takes in.

    We did try fly tags one year with average success.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,677 ✭✭✭squinn2912


    The licks are a bit of a help but tar is the best. We used both last year and it was quite effective



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