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Manage your cow herd supplement program during periods of high temperatures

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.

Increased temperatures have an impact on not only livestock but it can also affect low-moisture block (LMB) supplements like CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements.  I have looked back and retrieved past feeding tips that serve as good reminders when managing your summer supplement program. 

Feeding Tips:

  • Make sure there is plenty of available forage in pastures. Once forage becomes limiting, supplement intake will most often increase.
  • Be sure there are 20 to 30 head per barrel for proper surface area exposure. Fewer animals per container could allow for increased daily intake.
  • Place barrels further away from water or loafing areas once livestock are familiar with the supplement to decrease intake.
  • If possible, position barrels in areas that receive shade during the day.
  • Low-moisture block products will normally soften with high temperatures. Shade will significantly reduce this softening and night cooling will return product to original hardness.
  • Check your livestock frequently during extended periods of heat to make sure they have access to fresh water and to ensure that CRYSTALYX® supplement programs are delivering expected intakes. Repositioning barrels in the pasture may be needed to help reach desired intake.
  • Common livestock management practices that can lead to higher CRYSTALYX® supplement intake include:
    • Limited forage availability and/or a significant reduction in quality.
    • Fewer than 20 to 30 head per container where they have access to more supplement surface area.
    • Confined situations where cattle are in close proximity to supplement containers for most of the day.
    • Placement of CRYSTALYX® barrels in open, un-shaded areas near water.
    • Allowing free-choice supplement access to starved animals that were previously restricted.

Because summer forage conditions can change dramatically in a short period of time, the main thing is to frequently monitor how your supplement program is doing in delivering nutrients to your cow herd.  Following the above feeding tips can help you improve pasture utilization and make sure your supplements are working for you all summer long.