In many parts of the US pasture growth has begun to slow down while plants are maturing resulting in higher fiber and lower nutrient delivery to the cow herd. For spring calving herds this is when creep feeding becomes important for maintaining calf gains especially if forage availability and quality become limiting. With calf values as high as they are, it would be difficult for producers not to look at ways that focus on optimizing calf growth rates prior to weaning. But what about the cows? Most of the cow herd would be bred by now for herds calving in the spring. Cows are focusing on gaining weight/condition for the winter months, while nursing this year’s calf and providing a uterine environment that will lay the ground work for a healthy, growth calf in 2014.
Although it may seem crude, one of the easiest tools to determine the nutritional status of your herd is by assessing their Body Condition Status with the 1 through 9 Body Condition Score system. Thin cows are represented by the lower numbers and fatter conditioned cows by high numbers with an optimal score of 5. There are numerous University publications that describe each score and what indicators to look for that help individuals become accomplished at assigning proper Body Condition Scores. The reality is, if you want to be good at it, you need to do it, and do it frequently. This will help you get a feel for the nutritional status of the herd and you can more easily determine if your cows are gaining, losing or maintaining weight and body condition.
In order to help you with this task, we have developed an App that is available for iPhone and Droid smart phones that can help you with assigning condition scores. It is available free of charge from your App store and provides you the ability to take photos that you can refer back, when compare individual cows from an earlier date. You may want to pick out a few cows from the herd to give you a good proxy for determining the direction of your herds condition.
August is an excellent time to determine condition score of your herd, because you have some time working with your forage base, supplements if needed and the weather for managing cow weight compared to catching up when inputs become too expensive or the environment makes it too difficult or costly to do. Each condition score has been estimated to be between 80 and 120 pounds, so moving up even one body conditions score, say from a 4 to a 5, can require significant amounts of additional feed. Doing this in colder winter months makes this process even more challenging and costly.
Think of this as a reminder to go out and look over your herd. Let modern technology help you with managing your herd and down-load the Body Condition Score App and make sure your cows are headed into the Fall and Winter in Good Condition! Make sure to check out the Crystalyx.com website if you have any additional questions about the App.
Visit your phone's App store or scan the QR codes below to go directly to the App market.