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Fall calving

Staff writer

As cattle farmers all over the county enter the fall calving season, expectations surrounding fall numbers are generally high.

Ranch owner Mark Harms said agreeable weather over the summer has provided heifers with good conditions for successful pregnancies.

Harms said he had more than 200 successfully birthed calves before the first official due date.

“All in all, the weather’s been favorable, and the cattle have done their job,” he said. “It’s gone pretty well.”

Harms said that of the two calving seasons, more farmers calve in the spring than in the fall. Calving in the fall provides more amenable weather conditions for calves in their first two months before winter hits. Calves born in spring season can come as early as January or February, when weather can turn severe.

Spring calving benefits farmers, however, in that there is more forage in the spring months, while forage may be running out in the fall.

As a result, farmers like Harms, who calve mostly in the fall, have to supplement their cows’ nutrition to improve the quality of milk that gets to the calf.

Harms uses artificial insemination for his cattle, which makes the calving more regimented.

“We may have a couple hundred calves in a period of two weeks,” he said.

It also gives Harms the opportunity to match the bulls to the heifers.

“You wouldn’t want bigger calves than what heifers can handle,” Harms said. “It takes a lot of planning.”

Harms added that artificial insemination gives cows a quicker turnaround period, in terms of birthing the calf and coming back into heat. Cows in labor don’t have to be monitored as closely in fall weather as they do in wintry conditions.

“There’s less labor, we’re more efficient with our manpower, spring requires more interference on part of owners,” Harms said.

Last modified Sept. 11, 2014

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