The effects of spring versus summer calving on beef cattle economic performance in western canada


Khakbazan, M., Durunna, O.N., Sirski, T.K., Brewin, D.G., Huang, J., Berry, N., Iwaasa, A.D., Scott, S.L., Robins, C.D., Block, H.C., Lardner, H.A. (2015). The effects of spring versus summer calving on beef cattle economic performance in western canada. Canadian Journal of Animal Science, [online] 95(3), 475-486.


The choice of calving date influences the net revenue of a calving operation as it affects the number of days that calves spend in each feeding phase and when they are subsequently marketed. These two factors determine the costs, revenue, and risk (variance) of each calving system for the calving phase of a beef system. The majority of cow-calf producers in western Canada have adopted early calving (EC) in spring due to management factors. However, late calving (LC) in the summer is an alternative beef calving system associated with higher returns due to lower system costs and higher beef prices. It may offer a better match between cow nutritional requirements and pasture availability. The objective of this study was to compare the revenues and risks for a traditional EC system and an alternative LC system at three sites in western Canada. Biological and economic data from three field experimental sites in western Canada (Brandon Research Centre in Manitoba, Western Beef Development Centre in Lanigan, Saskatchewan and Semi-Arid Prairie Agriculture Research Centre in Swift Current, Saskatchewan) were used to determine the costs and benefits of the alternative beef calving system. The results showed that even though the EC has higher cost than the LC, the EC is slightly better than LC in terms of higher net revenue potential, but it comes at a greater risk due to higher revenue variances. TheECsystem is usually more preferable for risk-neutral producers, whereas the LC system is more preferable for risk-averse producers.