For most spring calving herd producers, cows are out on pasture with their calves at side meeting their nutritional needs through grazing. Little input is required other than a good fence and some supplemental vitamin/mineral nutrition. Nutritionally it is a very significant time in the cow’s production cycle as they are at a critical point for maintaining a yearly calving interval. The goal is to have cows bred within roughly 80 days of when they calved in order to maintain this yearly interval which can provide a uniform set of calves to merchandize in the fall or winter months.
It is tempting to push cows out on grass and for the most part, let them fend for themselves. However, in order to take full advantage of the current cattle economics, a “low” input approach should not necessarily mean that “no” input is the way to go. Additional pounds of calf continue to be forecasted as extremely valuable at sale time this fall. You can negatively impact current year’s production as well as future years production by cutting corners.
A good mineral/vitamin program can help meet nutritional needs of the cow given the variability that exists in forage quality and quantity over the grazing season. Because cows need to be bred early to stay on a yearly calving program that allows calves the most days to put on weight, supplements early in the season are critical. As the grazing season progresses and moisture conditions and grazing pressure varies, access to these supplements helps ensure that adequate nutrients are provided for optimal milk production and calf growth. The bottom line is that in order to achieve the calf gains and reproductive goals needed for success, mineral/vitamin supplements should be offered when grazing at all times to meet current and future requirements.
As you are providing a summer supplement another area that can add pounds to your calves is the incorporation of fly control into your supplement program. There are a number of fly larval growth regulator products or larvacides available that can be incorporated into a self-fed program regardless if it is with a dry loose mineral or a low-moisture block like CRYSTALYX®. By managing fly pressure in your herd you can realize extra calf weight from reduced stress and maintaining grazing time that will more than pay for the fly control program and in many cases, pay for your mineral/vitamin supplement in its entirety.
Consider this a reminder for you to keep the mineral/vitamin supplements out and in front of your herd through the grazing season to allow optimal production and provide the opportunity for your genetics to express themselves in calf growth and cow reproductive performance. Visit with your local CRYSTALYX® dealer for options that include fly control that will work for you and your grazing program. Don’t forget that CRYSTALYX® products minimize your labor, time and equipment requirements while providing the most weather resistant delivery in the market. It’s a great way for you to deliver the nutrition on pasture that will provide substantial returns at weaning!