As we approach the end of summer, with noticeably shorter days, cooler overnight temperatures and planning for the upcoming crop harvest, it can be difficult to think about what next spring will be like. However, what we do over the next 60 days with our cow herds will have a significant impact on what those cows will look like next spring. This is true for both spring and fall calving herds. Before we get busy with harvest and fall weaning, we need to take the time to assess the condition of our cow herds, make adjustments to our nutritional programs, if needed, and plan for our fall and winter supplementation needs. In areas dealing with severe drought, decisions about whether to sell or to keep cows or to move the herd to other parts of the country are being made. The discussion featured here will be most valuable for those areas fortunate enough to have adequate forage.
Here are some realities of cow nutrition:
1. Body condition is easier to improve now than in the winter.
a. Cold weather will increase the cows’ energy needs.
b. Their nutrient needs will also increase during mid- to late gestation.
c. Grazing forage is less expensive than feeding hay.
d. Supplementing mature forage will improve digestibility.
e. Supplementing mature forage will also extend the grazing season.
2. Feeding hay is expensive, and improving hay utilization is a win-win.
a. Often, supplemental protein and carbohydrates are needed when low-quality forages are being fed.
b. Increasing both the digestibility and intake potential will also increase the amount of energy extracted by the cow’s rumen.
c. Utilizing a self-fed supplement like CRYSTALYX instead of a daily hand-fed supplement (like a cube) will help you save time and money on feeding equipment while also providing a consistent daily delivery of protein, minerals and vitamins to your herd.
3. Thin cows in December are expensive!
a. It will cost more to get those cows to a body condition score of 5 or 6 before calving.
b. If these cows remain thin, the odds are that they won’t breed back on time next spring.
c. Fall-calving cows have to meet the demands of both lactation and winter maintenance.
4. Minerals and vitamins are required for optimal performance.
CRYSTALYX Supplementation app
The new CRYSTALYX Supplement app allows you to determine which CRYSTALYX product meets your needs for protein, additives and mineral fortification — all in just a few easy steps:
1. Select your type of livestock: Cows and bulls, calves, replacement heifers and yearlings or other species
2. Select your forage quality: Low, medium or high quality
3. Select the fortification level you need:
b. Premium — Includes a percentage of Bioplex® organic trace minerals.
c. Balanced — Delivers NRC-recommended levels of trace minerals in the inorganic sulfate and oxide forms; no additional mineral supplementation is needed.
d. Economy — Delivers a portion of the trace minerals that cows need; appropriate for situations where mineral delivery is provided by other sources.
4. Select the specific additive(s) you want to include.
5. Several calculators and other features are also available to help you determine and/or manage your supplement needs:
a. Intake calculator
b. Purchase calculator
c. Feeding reminder
CRYSTALYX Beef Cow Body Condition app
The CRYSTALYX Beef Cow Body Condition app is a great tool to help you manage the body condition of both individual cows and the herd. You can generate a picture record of individual animals and of group averages to help you manage the BCS of the herd and make the appropriate supplementation decisions.
The CRYSTALYX Beef Cow BCS app will allow you to take pictures of individual cows and assign them a BCS by using reference photos for comparison. Additionally, animals can be assigned to a specific pasture to get a group average. These photos can also be reviewed later to determine if changes to the nutrition program have made a positive impact.
Success at calving
Nutritionally, we are setting up cows for success at calving with what we do over the next 60 to 90 days. A cow’s body condition going into the winter months is critical in order for her to be in the proper condition at calving and during the subsequent breeding season.
Both the mineral status and the amount of protein in the diet of the brood cow will impact the production potential of the developing calf she is carrying. We continue to learn more about fetal programing, but it is clear that the nutrition provided to the cow will impact how her calf will perform after it is born.
CRYSTALYX Brand Supplements offers a wide variety of products and tools to help you manage your supplementation program, which will have a significant impact on the performance and profitability of your operation.