Early spring calving season in ND

Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 8:45 PM CST
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MORTON COUNTY, N.D. (KFYR) - Some North Dakota ranchers are getting ready for spring calving season, and a few have already started. Each year poses new risks with the weather, feed price changes, and calf losses.

These calves are just days old and stay out of the winter weather in the hay. Bill Klesalek is a third-generation rancher, and says not much changes for him or the calves each spring. He says this year the wind and snow are what’s tough, along with a few other threats to his herd.

“The hard winter and stuff like that. The big slam was snow in November, it came along and we’re still kind of dealing with that snow cover and stuff that did lay in here in the wind. A lot of wind this year, so we’ve had to deal with that and just take it one day at a time,” said Klesalek

Each day he feeds his cows 55 pounds of silage, chopped hay, and grain. Luckily, feed costs have gone down this year.

“We had a good year last year as far as feeding and silage corn and stuff like that. The last two years prior to that, we were pretty slammed on the feed costs and stuff. You’d actually spend almost your entire calf check just to feed these cattle. So, we decided to downsize,” said Klesalek.

The state veterinarian says it’s common for ranchers of commercial operations to start calving in March, and sometimes purebred ranchers begin in January, This week’s winter storm might cause some issues for ranchers.

“We’ve got the storm coming in right at the moment. I don’t know what that’s going to bring. A lot of our ranchers will start calving in the first week of March. So, it’s going to depend on who’s all started and hopefully everyone’s got places indoors to take care of their calves right now,” said Ethan Andress, state veterinarian.

This year, some ranchers are preparing for a lot of fence maintenance because of the heavy snow.

“We went and bought a couple of pellets of barbwire and fencepost. It’ll be a big major thing before we go out with the cattle and originally the first of June as most of the contracts go out. So, we’ll have until then to fix these fences up and stuff,” said Klesalek.

Klesalek and his family have been spring calving for 25 years.

The gestation period for the cattle is nine months, so the calves that were just born will have their first calf on Klesalek’s farm in two years.