A study conducted by Teagasc and UCD on the time suckler cows calve has found that calf births are evenly distributed over the day.

The study analysed the time of calving for 1,500 spring-calving sucklers at Teagasc Grange between 1995 and 2023.

The researchers determined that around one-third of suckler cows will calf between 11pm and 7am, with another third calving from 7am to 3pm and the remainder from 3pm to 11pm.

However, these figures are averages for each eight-hour period and “large variation” was observed within each period between years.

These calving patterns suggest that calvings are evenly distributed throughout the day, despite silage usually being fed during the morning.

The researchers noted that this daily calving pattern implies that one in every three calves are born during “unsociable hours” when labour is “less freely available”.

Farm safety

Working alone with calving cows could pose safety risks to farmers, especially at night, they stated.

It concluded that assisted and unassisted calvings are equally distributed throughout the day.

Calf sex and birth weight were found to have no obvious impact what time cows calved, nor did whether the cows’ breeding was beef-beef or dairy-beef.

The researchers stated previous studies suggest that the time of cow feeding does not always alter the time of calving and where it does, the impact is often relatively “modest”.