Having a breeding (and calving) season can optimise the reproductive performance of a breeding herd and the prewean growth rate of calves. This, in turn, can profoundly influence the profit margin of a beef cattle enterprise.
The aim of a breeding season is to get the maximum number of female animals in calf in a short period, and as cost-effectively as possible, for calving during a time that favours the following:
Calf survival; and
Pre-wean growth of calves.
The major factor governing a breeding season is nutrition. The most effective breeding season is one that makes optimal use of the cheapest source of high-quality feed, namely summer grazing.
Many problems can arise if a breeding season starts too late in the year. To begin with, calves born too late may be too small to utilise their dams’ high milk production from peak summer grazing. This will result in lower weaning weights. In addition, because of the higher nutritional level of the cows at that stage, calves born later in the summer season may have higher birth weights and consequently a higher incidence of dystocia (calving difficulty).
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