Nutrient needs for spring cow herds

Feb 26, 2018


ANNOUNCER:    Welcome to the latest “Block Talk ” podcast brought to you by CRYSTALYX® Brand supplements. Spring is just around the corner, and so is spring calving, and that can present some unique nutritional challenges. In his latest blog, and in this podcast, Dan Dhuyvetter, Director of Research & Nutrition Services for CRYSTALYX, writes about several key factors that can dramatically impact nutrient requirements.

ANNOUNCER:    Spring calving is here, or soon to be here. So what’s the importance of nutrition at this time of year?

DAN:                 This time of year, it’s a fun time. Calves are starting to hit the ground in a lot of areas, and, you can kinda get caught up with a lot of the chores and things that need to be done to make sure they get off to a good start. One of the things, though, that if we take a look at their nutrition program there are a lot of changes that seem to be occurring within the cow herd once the calves do come and they hit the ground, we have a new element that enters the picture, and that’s lactation. And when we put that additional nutrient drain on the cow herd, there’s a tremendous increase in demand for nutrition, especially in terms of energy and crude protein.”

ANNOUNCER:    As you’ve been talking about, the requirements for beef cows this time of year fluctuates, depending on their physiological state in relation to pregnancy and calving. So, walk us through how those requirements change.

DAN:                 As I mentioned before, it’s very important pre-calving for nutrition. But, that certainly is an element where the cow is bringing all of that, her stores and her nutritional programs is getting keyed toward that fetal development. Once she calves, there’s an increase in demand for both energy and protein. When we see that…and she can take in more nutrition. So she’ll try and adapt, as long as that diet is of higher quality. Nutritional supplements at that time become key for providing additional nutrients, in addition to what’s provided by the forage to make sure that she does not come across any deficiencies.

ANNOUNCER:    Have we seen some changes in cow types through genetic selection? And if that’s so, how may that have changed how we feed the cow-herd?

DAN:                 That’s a very good question. Basically, the first part, moving from gestation to lactation, that just occurs every year, regardless of what’s happened with your cow herd. Taking two other factors that can impact nutrition in the cow her: One is cow weight, mature cow weight. And the other is in how much your cow herd milks…and the only way that you can make sure you can meet those requirements is making sure that you’re actually focusing on setting aside higher quality forages that you’re providing, or turning out to pastures that basically, you’re able to get to that time of the year and turn them on to green grass that can provide those nutrient requirements.

Related article: Spring beef cow-herd nutrition has been slowly heating up in two ways

ANNOUNCER:    What are some other important factors that can influence cow requirements?

DAN:                 This is the time of year when you start getting some of those wet conditions, whether you’re further south and you don’t have snow. You kinda get some of those spring rains that come in, but you still get lower temperatures. And in the north you can get some of the wet snows that come. Basically, from a weather standpoint, the temperatures and then those wet, damp conditions…the cattle need additional calories to stay warm. And, or else, what happens is they mobilize those body stores at that time. If that’s the case, that’s the reason why you want to make sure you want to go back to that pre-calving. You want to have those cows coming into that time frame in really good body condition. So if you ever to hit those types of weather events that come through, they have the ability to withstand those.

ANNOUNCER:    You can learn much more about how to have your spring beef cow herd well-prepared for the nutrition requirements that face them entering lactation by reading Dan’s blog on the CRYSTALYX website.

ANNOUNCER:    That’s it for this “Block Talk” podcast brought to you by CRYSTALYX Brand Supplements an easy way to provide self-fed protein, vitamins and trace minerals in a low moisture supplement formulated for all types of feeding situations from low quality forages to fly control and everything in between. Learn more about all that CRYSTALYX has to offer by going to It all adds up to Results by the Barrel.


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