Factors for producers to consider for their operations 

Whether a producer favors a designated breeding season or a year-round approach, there are advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind when choosing which management strategy to follow. 


In some respects, implementing a breeding season creates convenience in processing and weaning compared to year-round breeding. 

“I like the idea of actually having a very tight breeding season – 60 to 70 days in total length,” Bruce Peverley, Nowata and Craig County Extension Educator with Oklahoma State University, explained. “The reason I prefer that is that I am going to have a more uniform calf crop. When I work or process cows and calves, I have a much larger chance of being able to gather all of them at one time, so I don’t have to regather.”

Additionally, in a breeding season system all the calves can be weaned at the same time. This saves time and labor. 

Financial advantage

Another aspect realized is one that can impact a producer’s pocketbook. Consider what happens as the calving window starts to stretch further and further between calves. 

“Calves nursing a cow will typically gain about 2 pounds a day while they are on the cow. The later they are born in the breeding season the lighter they are going to be,” Peverley said. 

Producers managing toward a herd that produces large, uniform groups of calves can snag higher premiums. Calves grouped together by size and sold in larger groups gain a price advantage.

Improved Efficiency

Operating with a tight calving window can provide some opportunities to gain efficiencies. 

“When we are in critical times, like calving, we can at least, in theory, provide more time and labor as needed to get a more successful calving rate as opposed to being strung over a longer period of time,” Peverley said. 

The longer a calving season is stretched out the more of a chance a producer may miss a cow when she might need help.

Year-Round Breeding

Some producers manage following the old saying, “I will take rain or a calf any day.”

 The proponents of year-round calving appreciate the convenience of leaving in a bull with their cows. They consider it less management and hold to the philosophy of when the cow is ready to breed it will happen. 


However, in a year-round breeding system producers can more easily lose track of some of the cows’ production cycles. For example, some cows may calve every 365 days but there may be some cows in the herd that don’t calve until 14 months. A year-round breeding season requires continual tracking.

On the other hand, producers who utilize a tight breeding season, may have some cows that fail to breed during the designated timeframe for whatever reason. There are cows that simply may not fit into the established breeding season system. 

Producers who calve throughout the year may manage cows and calves that are in different stages of production in the same pasture. If spring and fall calvers are all in the same pasture, then it makes it more difficult to determine how to feed the entire group. 

“When it comes to supplying nutrition, usually one group is going to be dry and one group is going to be wet,” Peverley said. “So, who do we feed for? Do we feed the dry cows and cheat the lactating cows or vice-versa? I have trouble seeing that as a very effective system.”   

Factors to Consider

When determining what works best for a particular operation extension specialists recommend looking at forage and weather patterns. 

The forage available when calves are on the ground should be considered, as well as the weather temperatures when it is time for the momma cows to bred back. 

“There are a lot of factors and concerns we want to look at and they are also tied to the management that the producer wants to put into it,” Peverley said.


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