Nutrition – Parturition – Reproduction – oh My!
Thus far, winter weather conditions in Arkansas have been mild, not adding much environmental stress to the herd. While attention is focused on calving, don’t neglect to monitor body condition and adjust supplemental feeding rates, especially for first-calf heifers. The nutrient density of the diet is about 7% greater for those first-calf heifers compared to mature cows; so, hay quality may be adequate for lactating cows, but not those 2-year-old mothers. Even very good quality hay can be inadequate in energy content for young mothers.
To calve within 365 days, cows should have entered the calving season in at least moderate body condition and first-calf heifers should had been in slightly fleshy condition. Both mature and 2-year-old cows need to be managed after calving to avoid excessive body condition loss. Sometimes this necessitates feeding first-calf heifers separate from mature cows beginning at calving to keep supplemental feed cost from being excessive.
When choosing a supplement, don’t get caught in the Practical Protein Trap. Self-fed supplements are very effective at delivering supplemental protein, but product consumption limitations and cost can make them a poor choice for energy supplementation. When it comes to supplementing energy, in most cases ‘If it’s easy, it ain’t enough’. If supplemental feeding is necessary, don’t pour feed in the trough and drive away. Use this time to make sure you have enough trough space to feed both the sprinters and lagers and monitor individual animal health.
If you’re not sure what type of supplement the herd needs, start by testing your hay for nutritive value since it comprises nearly all of the winter diet. A routine forage analysis costs $18 and your county Extension office can assist with submission and interpretation of results.
Feb. 22, 2017
Registration is $20 per
person. Contact your
county extension office
for more information.
Balancing Cost and
Decisions that Reduce
Cost, and How to Use
Don’t let the abundance of rain and good growing conditions this past summer allow you to put your guard down so to speak on fall forage availability. So far this fall, temperatures have stayed above normal and rainfall below normal. Add to those conditions shorter daylight hours, some armyworms, and large calves adding to the grazing pressure and you might find there’s not much forage left in pastures. Cows are starting to respond by losing body condition. Monitor pastures to ensure cows aren’t seeking out potentially toxic plants such as oaks and perilla mint due to hunger. Start feeding hay early if needed and test hay for nutritive value. Although hay is abundant in AR, some first cuttings were harvested later than usual and some of the last cuttings were harvested merely to get pastures cleaned off. The nutritive value of these hays may be lower than usual and cows may not winter as well using traditional supplemental feeding practices; especially if we end up with a wetter than normal winter. Sort off large calves and get them to market to also deal with over-grazed pastures. Parasites are also likely culprits contributing to production losses right now. Because of the warm weather, flies have remained high and fly tags have likely played out by now. When gathering the herd for weaning, consider using a pour-on dewormer this fall to help suppress flies and the extra worm burden due to very short forage height. If the calves are already weaned and gathering cows isn’t feasible, resort to an insecticidal spray for flies and a dewormer that can delivered in supplemental feed to help with gastrointestinal nematodes.
2016 Four States Cattle Conference
The 2016 Four States Cattle Conference is moving to a new location in 2016. The conference will be held December 13th at the at the University Center Building at the Texarkana Texas A&M Campus in “you guessed it” Texarkana on the Texas side of the state line. Pre-registration is $50 for couples, $30 for individuals, or $15 for 4H/FFA students. On-site registration is $70 for couples and $45 for individuals. Registration forms are available through your county Extension agent. Topics and speakers this year include:
- Cattle Market Outlook (Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University)
- Winter Cow Nutrition (Paul Beck, University of Arkansas)
- Mineral Supplementation (Dave Lalman, Oklahoma State University)
- Producer Perspectives (A panel of cattle producers)
For more details, early registration, and directions download the attached brochure