As cattle producers are contemplating the drier winter, and perhaps thinking to sell a few to reduce the number of mouths, the adjustment in market price is just another variable in the planning.
The dollar is playing its part, but the season is having a big effect.
Spring is just five weeks away, and we certainly could do with some more rain in many parts.
Cattle producers are probably doing their planning as they drive around on the early morning check of calving cows.
Spring calving is underway for many. Some herds will have most of their new calves on the ground by mid-August.
It sounds strange to say that much of the excitement will be over even before spring starts. Spring calving is really late winter calving.
Optimistic farmers use the weather bureau forecasts as another tool in their planning belt.
Planning at this time of the year, especially in southern New South Wales is pretty important.
But planning for next year is also in the minds of astute cattle producers.
Fertility drives production and profits, and planning for this year’s conception and next year’s calving percentages occurs between calving and joining.
That’s right now!
Joining starts in late October. The number of bull sales coming up indicates we’re getting close.
Basic theory shows that there is a really great relationship between cow body fat and early conception. Cows in better condition on the day the bull walks into the paddock are more likely to conceive early.
Not only is calving early in the calving period more profitable, but more conceivers, especially in some very short joining periods, means more live animals to sell in two years’ time.
Calving early in a spring calving period also seems to see less calving problems, as calf size can be less than for mid to late spring calving.
So planning on how to balance mouths with feed this spring should also include prioritising feed towards the females that will be joined.
It’s a common practice for producers to drift off cows with new calves from those that are yet to calve.
It means the mob to keep checking gets smaller and maybe easier to manage, but as importantly, the new calves and their mums are put on better feed.
Late pregnant cows only need enough feed to meet their requirements and not so much that calf size increases. But when they calve, it’s the time to put them on the good feed.
Part of this plan is to maintain as much cow body condition as a newly lactating cow can, so that at joining time, next year’s calving rate is set up!