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In the world of cattle, most cows are fed first thing in the morning, and calves are usually born at night. Bleary-eyed producers and veterinarians are often in the barn all night assisting a cow or heifer giving birth.
Eldon Cole is an Extension livestock specialist at the University of Missouri. He says physiological mechanisms in the digestion system and possibly hormones dictate when a calf is born. He says nobody is quite sure why this happens, they just know it does.
Research in the U.S. and Canada has shown that you can switch their biological clock – and when they calve - by feeding cattle after 5-pm.
"If we’re feeding them at that time, it kind of upsets their normal routine and more likely to calve in the daytime hours," says Cole. "After they’ve eaten, they’re probably not going to do much in the way of having a delivery of a calf."
Cole recommends switching the feeding time at least a month ahead of the due date so the animal’s system can adjust.
If your herd is out on pasture they’re going to eat when they want to, so this calls for strategic fencing.
"Controlling grazing with maybe some power fencing and strip grazing, as we call it," he says. "Then, you could probably arrange to where there wouldn’t be much left for them to eat the next day, and then you’d move the fence later in the day where they can go out and they’ll go after grazing at that time."
Cole says these strategies don’t work 100-percent of the time, but for most people it does.