The Elk Breeders Homepage

Elk Calendar

by Dr. Gerald Hauer
reprinted with permission

Outlined below is a typical yearly calendar for an elk farm. Remember that this calendar is very generic and only serves as a reminder of some of the things that you should consider each season but actual management decisions must be based on an individual farm basis.

January and February:

  • cows and bulls on winter feeding program designed to maintain body weight but not gain weight so that calving problems can be minimized
  • cows should be a lean to moderate body condition score in the spring to minimize calving difficulites
  • calves and yearlings should be fed to maintain optimum growth throughtout the winter but not overfed or reproductive problems may arise
  • plan pasture rotation strategy for spring calving and summer grazing
  • if required TB and Brucellosis test the herd
  • attend conventions and sales to keep informed on the industry
  • select replacement sires

March and April:

  • ensure mineral intake of the pregnant cowsl; mit it in some grain if necessary and pail feed. Do not overfeed the pregnant cows and make them too fat for calving!
  • supply bulls with optimum feed and minerals to produce good quality velvet
  • order eartags for this year's calves
  • if calf scours have been a problem in the past, vaccinate your cows against the common pathogens that cause the disease


  • calve cows in a clean and spacious pasture to minimize calf diseases. Calving pastures should not be the same as teh winter pasture because the ground can get heavily contaminated with feces which increases the exposure of calves to diseases and parasites.
  • monitor daily for calf diseases such as scours
  • do not stress cows at this time as this can have a detrimental effect on calf health
  • pasture improvement with fertilizers, aeration, etc.
  • velvet seasons starts; be sure that you have all your supplies ready for velveting
  • when the bulls are restrained for velvet, give them a booster with 8-way vaccine, Redwol and a dewormer


  • finish velveting
  • turn animals into summer pastures
  • rotate pastures to ensure good quality feed is available to the animals at all times
  • deworm cows and yearlings with products in feed or water


  • continue pasture rotation to maximize pasture quality and utilization by the herd
  • make arrangement for AI during breeding season
  • select breeding bulls based on current year's velvet production
  • attend velvet competitions


  • flush cows (increase their nutrient intake) to increase conception rates
  • ensure mineral intake of the lactating cows; mix it in some grain if necessary and pail feed
  • perform fecal tests on calves to evaluate parasite load
  • repair or modify handling system to accommodate herd for the fall season

September and October:

  • breeding season; use AI program or turn bulls out with the cow herd
  • wean calves if pre-rut weaning is employed
  • vaccinate (8-way, +/- Redwol) deworm and weigh herd
  • eartag calves if not done in the spring
  • test feed supplies for nutrients
  • plan winter feeding program
  • perform fecal examination on young stock to test efficacy of deworming program

November and December:

  • remove breeding bulls from cow herd
  • vaccinate calves with boosters
  • feed bulls well to achieve post rut recovery before winter sets in
  • wean calves if post-rut weaning is employed
  • herd test for TB and Brucellosis
  • return cows to pasture or use supplemental feeding
  • feed calves and yearlings to maintain optimal growth
  • market calves, yearlings, and cull cows



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