Calving season starts May 1st each year. By calving in May and June, we align the peak energy of our grass growth with the peak nutritional requirements of our cows. Since we moved our calving season from March to May we have gone from an overall breed back percentage of 71% to 89%. The biggest difference we have seen is in our 3-year-old second calf heifers. When we calved our heifers in March our breed back percentage was a lousy 58%. Since moving to May, we are now at 82%.
During the month of July, we will get all the cattle in a corral. All the cows get vaccinated. Any cow that did not calve or lost a calf is sorted out and culled. Each calf gets vaccinated and bull calves are castrated.
Bulls are turned in with the cows on July 24th for 60 days. This gives us a May-June calving season. After 60 days the bulls are pulled out of the cow herd. We use this short season as a tool to select for fertile cows. December 1st the cow herd gets preg-checked. This is where we have to stick to our breeding program and cull every cow that did not breed. There are no exceptions, we do not give second chances when it comes to fertility. After the cows are preg-checked the bulls go back in with the cows that are bred. This eliminates the need for a separate farm to rotate bulls through during the non-breeding season.
The same day that we preg-check the cow herd, we also wean and sell the steer calves. All the heifer calves remain in with the cow herd for the winter. The cows will self-wean the heifers by spring.