Yet, on this farm, we plan to have the young born in the fall and winter. The reason we do this is for our convenience.
In the spring, the “Do List” includes:
- manure spreading
- cleaning the chicken house for the new chicks
The summertime “Do List” is similarly busy:
- cut, rake, bale and store hay
- cultivate corn
- combine oats
- bale straw
In the autumn:
- shell corn, if room is needed for the harvest in the corn crib
- pick the corn
- store the corn in the cribs
- spread manure
- take down fencing in the pastures that is not needed over the winter
- cut wood for next year’s firewood supply
- plow any fields possible before the snows come
Any time all year the machinery must be maintained and the cows must be milked and cared for. So by now, you can tell, that there is a lot to coordinate on a dairy farm.
Fast forward to late fall. Dairy cattle are not like beef cows or horses, in that they can calve all alone and manage just fine. Dairy cattle sometimes need to be helped with the delivery of their young.
Our income comes from healthy cows. Our future income will come from healthy calves. Therefore, my husband is actively on maternity duty.
He is a good record keeper. He knows the day each cow was bred. Hence, he knows when to expect the offspring to come. He checks on them during the night and watches then during the day. Some nights he spends napping in the barn, so he can be nearby to help the cow when the calf comes.
All of this attention to birthing mixed in with spring and summer duties would be difficult. My husband arranges the calving to occur when most of the crop work is done. As it is, he becomes weary. Doing all of this along with the time pressure of spring and summer jobs would be overwhelming. Therefore, you understand management’s decision to calve in the fall and winter.