We are just beginning the month of July and entering into that time of the year where temperatures begin to rise and there is often no end in sight. Your forages, particularly cool season pastures, have slowed down in production and the grassland starts to have a brown tinge to it compared to the lush dark green appearance just a few weeks ago. Rain has been anywhere from more than plentiful, to still absent in the far west. One thing that most all of the regions of the US have in common is the more persistently higher temperatures.
Measuring Things We Can Manage in the Beef Cow Herd
Summer is a time when we can relax and enjoy some recreation activities with family and friends. However, as we get into the warm summer months remember to look at a few things that can have a significant impact on profitability of your cow herd. We can “manage” these things by measuring and monitoring them. There are tools that can help with both measuring and improving the condition of these items.
- Body condition of the cows and especially first calf heifers
- Condition of the pasture
- Hay Inventory
When considering mineral supplementation, one of the more costly nutrients is phosphorus. One may be tempted to skimp on the phosphorus level in a mineral, thinking that forages will make up for it. That can be a costly decision when you consider that phosphorus has a significant role in reproductive efficiency and growth and it’s the most prevalent mineral deficiency in grazing livestock.
I heard an interesting statement at a meeting I attended last week, on the subject of animal health with incoming calves in a feedlot. That being “sickness is the only variable you cannot hedge with weaned calves”. This is very true, for a number of reasons. You do not always know the previous nutritional and health programs of newly arrived calves. Add to that, you do not always know which days of the week would be best to receive calves, as the weather is unpredictable. Many feedlots would not schedule shipments or arrivals based on weather forecasts anyway. The health of weaned calves will always be a bit of a gamble when you buy unknown calves. Many feedlots prefer to buy calves from past customers for this reason – they know how they performed the year(s) before, and would likely expect similar performance this year. A small percentage of the cows may have been replaced and the same can be said for the bulls, but the majority of the genetics are the same, and you could expect the same from their nutrition and health programs.
Foot rot is caused by anaerobic bacteria. They cannot penetrate intact healthy hoof tissue. However, when cattle continually stand in water and mud, their hooves soften, just like your fingernails after a long bath. Softened hooves are less impervious to punctures and abrasions, thus giving the foot rot bacterium a route into the hoof. Therefore, we see more foot rot in herds exposed to long periods of wet weather.