Congratulations! You made it through one of the worst droughts on record. Now that the rains have come and the grass is green again, your worries are over, right? Wrong! Now your livestock are picking up all of the parasites that lay dormant all of those months of drought. Are you ready?
Hay quality will vary due to forage type, stage of maturity at harvest and harvest conditions. In addition to hay, feeding harvested crop residue such as corn stalk bales is common. Often a combination of different quality hays are fed at the same time using past experience and some nutritional “cow sense” helping to determine the correct blend. Cow body condition and cow contentment are used as rough indicators of meeting the dry matter intake and energy needs of the cows. Evaluating the manure is a tool that can help indicate when changes in the forage mix or supplement strategy is needed. We need to be aware that the nutritional needs of the cow will change depending on production cycle.
It’s a new year, 2012, and the optimism in the Cattle Industry continues. Spring calving is just around the corner and thus a great percentage of the 2012 Calf-crop is in the 3rd trimester of fetal development or very close to it.Over 85% of fetal growth occurs during this stage of gestation, and nutritional demands of the mother cow are increasing at a rapid rate.Protein and energy demands increase nearly 20% just during the last month of pregnancy (see chart below).
Now is the time to start planning your winter-feeding program. Adequate nutrition is vital for both the calf and cow in terms of health and productivity. Thin cows are harder to breed back; produce less milk and wean lighter calves. However, on the flip side, it is important to supplement only what is necessary without wasting feed or money in order to remain profitable.
Molds and mycotoxins have a major impact on feedstuff and livestock production. They cause economic loss from lost dry matter and nutrient value in moldy feeds to lost production efficiency and overall animal health in animals consuming feeds contaminated with mycotoxins.
If you need to change the body condition of your cows so they will be in the best condition possible for breeding season, now is the time to act. An important activity to do before we get busy with fall harvest is to give your cow a close look. I am not talking about a passing glance, but take the time to critically evaluate each animal; better yet, utilize a trusted advisor such as your feed supplier to body condition score your cows. They have not seen them as often as you nor do they have the “family history” that may bias your scoring. The recent USDA-APHIS survey of Cow Calf Operations indicated that less than 15% of producers use Body Condition Scoring (BCS) as a management tool.
While it’s true that Agriculture is enjoying some record or near record dollar receipts for commodity goods, input costs are rising and thus need to be managed. Everything costs more these days. From fuel to food, no one can escape all the rising costs.In this economy, we should all be challenged to find what the best buy is for the dollar and match purchases to our needs, goals and objectives.
Most cattlemen realize the advantages of using a mineral supplement for grazing cattle in the summer. Most cattlemen are also aware that, in the fall, a protein supplement will greatly improve the utilization of mature grass.
It’s a little hard for those of us in the upper Midwest to think about fly control…there are still piles of snow on the ground! Nevertheless, fly season is just around the corner for us and has already started for producers further south.