Producers who want more cows and heifers calving in daylight hours should try to delay putting out hay and cubes until late in the day.
“It may sound like an old wives’ tale, but it works and has unbiased research behind it,” said Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
There are many reasons producers like calves to be born in daylight hours, Cole said. First, it’s usually warmer. Second, it’s easier to find assistance from a neighbor or a veterinarian. A third reason could be fewer sleepless nights for the owner or caretaker of the cows.
“The late feeding time should start at least four weeks before the beginning of the calving season,” he said. “Research trials from Canada and the United States have varied the late feeding time from 4 in the afternoon to 10 p.m.”
There are some problems if a producer has cattle on pasture where they can graze all day. Some Missouri cattle producers who strip-graze stockpiled fescue religiously can wait until late afternoon to move the fence to fresh pasture.
“The class of females that are of most need for daytime calving are first-calf heifers,” Cole said. “If your management system allows your feeding time to be altered to very late afternoon, I would encourage you to try it.”
Field studies and researchers have seen daytime calvings move to around 80 percent or higher when late-in-the-day feeding is practiced, he said.