With calving almost over and mating on the horizon it's time to have a review of one of the most significant decisions you will make for next season, calving date.

There are four significant decisions you make on farm every year. They are calving date, stocking rate, BCS at calving and pasture cover at calving.

Historically calving dates were 10-14 days later than what we currently calve.

This has been due to a desire to increase days in milk, farmers mating rising 2-year heifers earlier than the main herd to improve their incalf rates, and the use of bulls with a shorter gestation.


Many farmers haven't complemented this with increased feed on hand at the start of calving. This has resulted in an increase in the feed deficit at the start of the season.

It was easy to fill this hole with supplement when payout is at +$7/kgMS, but with the wet July we have had and the predicted long term payout levels, many farmers are now reviewing their calving start date to decrease their reliance on purchasing in supplement in the early spring.

If calving date is more than 55 days from feed balance date, supplement may be needed to manage any early spring feed deficit.

As farmers, we need to think about how dependent we want to be on purchased supplement for this period and evaluate what the profitability of this practice is.

To do an accurate assessment of this, feed budgets from autumn to spring are essential.

Combining this with the financial and non-financial impacts of the change and a risk assessment for your business will provide a solid platform for an informed decision.