With many of you having spring calving herds, that will begin to calve in February, March or April, we are fast approaching the proverbial “third trimester”.
While we all have written blogs about the research on fetal programing that has shown that the first and second trimesters are important times to be providing supplemental nutrition, we will just look at the third trimester here.
What is special about the third trimester ?
For many years we have told you that the third trimester is when over 70% of the fetal growth occurs. For this reason, the third trimester has been the time that we are supposed to be feeding our best quality forage. This is also the time that many cattlemen start to also provide a protein, vitamin and mineral supplement.
A good rule of thumb for the third trimester is that your cow herd should be on a diet that is at least 9% crude protein. This is up from the 7% crude protein rule that we use previous to the third trimester. If your forage is at 8% protein, then ¾ of a pound of a 28-30% protein CRYSTALYX® product will bring your cow’s diet up to about 9% crude protein.
While the prices of vitamins are increasing this Fall, the overall cost of an adequate vitamin supplementation program in your herd is still relatively small. While forages will contain varying levels of Vitamin A activity, it is still good insurance to use a supplement that will supply around 35,000 to 40,000 IU of Vitamin A during gestation. In most all situations for beef cattle that are reared in sunlight, a 10:1 ratio of Vitamin A to Vitamin D-3 is adequate. So, 3,500 to 4,000 IU of D-3 is enough for gestating cows. Vitamin E is a topic of much debate. Most would like to see at least 50 IU per cow per day, although higher levels will certainly pay off when stress hits your herd or when we get closer to breeding season.
Trace mineral supplementation?
Most forages in the U.S. will likely be deficient in copper, selenium or zinc. Some forage will be deficient in all three. Most nutritionists will agree that you should supplement trace minerals in a ratio that does not allow one trace mineral to be out of line with the others. Excessive amounts of one trace mineral will cause lower absorption of other trace minerals. All CRYSTALYX® products are formulated in a proper ratio of trace minerals. CRYSTALYX® balanced products (BGF, VP, NP products, etc.) will supply 100% of NRC requirements for trace minerals. The CRYSTALYX® Breed-Up line will supply 200% of NRC.
Most recently, CRYSTALYX® has offered a completely new line of supplements called CRYSTALYX® Blueprint®. These new Blueprint supplements provide trace minerals only in the form of Bioplex® organic trace minerals. Bioplex organic trace minerals are more available than inorganic trace minerals, like sulfates, oxides and chlorides.
Bioplex organic trace minerals also are a more effective means of providing trace mineral supplementation if you have trace mineral antagonists. Trace mineral antagonists can be high levels of iron or molybdenum in your soils and forages, or high levels of sulfates in your water.
The third trimester is no time to relax your supplementation program, and for many it is a time to upgrade your supplementation program. CRYSTALYX® Brand self-fed protein supplements are an excellent way to maximize your returns from a supplement program that’s available 24/7. A properly stocked set of CRYSTALYX® barrels will generally last about 2 weeks. This will minimize your investment in time, labor and equipment while providing for your herd in the critical third trimester.