University of California Cooperative Extension
Fall Calving Season
By Sheila Barry, Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor
Across California’s annual grasslands, beef cows are calving. Most calves are born between August and November. They calve in the Fall so that they are old enough in the early spring to graze on the rapidly growing spring grass, which begins to replace their mother’s milk.
It’s really a balancing act - matching the nutrient needs of the cow and calf with forage quality and quantity.
The primary goal of a cow-calf producer is for every cow to wean a calf in the late Spring. To achieve this, the rancher must begin preparing during calving season by:
- Keeping a watchful eye on cows as they calve. Although most cows do not require any assistance calving, some do have trouble. Ranchers may assist by pulling a calf or making sure a cow and her calf are matched up.
- Looking out for predators. Newborn or young calves are more susceptible than older animals to predators like mountain lions and coyotes. Calving location may help to minimize predator losses.
- Paying attention to cow and heifer nutrition. Cows must be re-bred within 80 to 85 days after calving to maintain the goal of one calf each year. Adequate nutrition is crucial for re-breeding, especially for first calf heifers. Dry fall forage may require supplementation to meet the cows needs for nursing her calf and getting re-bred
Article continues in Bay Area Working Rangelands