Keep an App on Body Condition Score
It has been a relatively mild winter in many areas except for the last few weeks with severe cold temperatures in many parts of the country. It is relatively easy to understand the need for extra feed and/or nutrition during these times of low temperatures. I hope the overall mild trend continues and this cold snap is short lived. The days are getting longer which means we are getting closer to calving season and spring grass.
Most spring calving cows are in their third trimester of pregnancy and nutrient demands of the rapidly developing unborn calf are increasing dramatically. At the same time, winter weather conditions are increasing maintenance requirements of the cow. The cow’s plane of nutrition for the next 60-90 days will have both short and long term impact on the cow and the unborn calf. Managing body conditions should be one of your highest priorities during this time of year.
Short Term Benefit to Supplemental Nutrition - Improved Forage Utilization
Feeding the Rumen – Supporting the Cow and Calf
Optimizing rumen fiber digestion is the hitch pin for getting the most out of your forage and supporting profitability. Delivering a combination of protein and rumen friendly carbohydrate provides the fiber digesting bacteria in the rumen the little extra they need for optimum fiber digestibility. Getting the most out of your forage has been a commonly agreed upon recommendation by many as we enter into this period of lower cattle prices.
Long Term Benefit to Supplemental Nutrition - Reproductive Performance
Body condition at calving and mineral status of brood cows are the main factors that influence future reproductive success. Thin cows do not breed back as quickly as cows in an ideal body condition score (BCS) of 5 to 6. A risk you need to avoid is accepting the conditions on your operation as “normal” and not critically evaluating your cows.
The CRYSTALYX® Beef Cow Body Condition App is a great resource for evaluating reference photos to determine what a BCS 4 looks like in addition to having a pictorial BCS record for individual cows. Various BCS’s are described in both text descriptions and with reference pictures. Tools like these are invaluable, in order to avoid the risk of accepting BCS cows of 4 as normal when a BCS 5 can increase your reproductive performance.
In many parts of the country that I travel, reducing the number of BCS 8 and 9 cows will be an opportunity to decrease feed cost. There is the option to replace the reference photos with your own photos. Just keep the pictures true to the purpose of objectively evaluating your cattle. The CRYSTALYX® Beef Cow BCS App is available as a free download on iOS (iPhone/ iPad) and Android platforms and can be downloaded at their app stores.
CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements offers a wide range of supplements to match and supplement a variety of forage qualities, feeding programs and nutrient demands of the cattle being supplemented. As we get closer to calving season, take time to critically evaluate the BCS of your cattle. It is easier to keep them in condition now as compared to trying to correct thin cows after they calve.