Date of this Version
A 5-yr study was conducted beginning in 1983 with 460 cows to evaluate the effects of three breeding seasons (30,45, and 70 d in length) and two times of spring calving, March (early) and April (late), on cattle production under Nebraska Sandhills range conditions. Criteria evaluated included pregnancy and weaning percentages, calving date and distribution, cow weights and body condition at four intervals, calf birth and weaning weights, and cow productivity. The 30-d breeding season included a 10-d estrus synchronization and AI period; in the other breeding seasons only natural breeding was used. The same sires were used over the entire study period. Percentage of cows pregnant and percentage of calves weaned were lower (P < .01) for cows bred for 30 d than for cows bred for 45 or 70 d. Average calving dates were similar among the breeding groups within the early and late calving herds. Pregnancy rates from AI were higher (P < .01) for the cows calving in April (64%) than for the cows calving in March (41%). Cows calving in April lost less weight between precalving and prebreeding and were heavier (P < .05) at prebreeding time than the cows calving in March. Calf weaning weights were not different (P > .10) among any of the breeding season groups or between the two calving herds when calves were weaned at a similar age. Cow productivity (calf weaning weight per breeding female) was highest (P < .05) for the cows bred for 70 d (186 kg), intermediate for the cows bred for 45 d (172 kg), and lowest for cows bred for 30 d (162 kg). No difference in cow productivity was found between the two calving herds (early, 172 kg and late, 175 kg). We concluded that cows bred for 70 d had the highest productivity and that an April calving season was as productive as a March calving season in the Nebraska Sandhills.