For spring-calving beef producers, the excitement of calving season is either wrapped up or well underway by this month. It’s a great feeling to have a new crop of robust calves kicking up their heels in the springtime sun.
It also means that it’s time to start thinking about how your nutritional program will help to ensure next year’s calf crop gets a good start.
Gestation, winter extremes and calving can take a toll on a cow’s condition, and we must remember that she is never eating for just herself. In fact, she is always eating for 2 and even 3 once she is rebred. It’s important to know that a cow’s energy needs can be 20-30 percent greater during lactation.
Body Condition Scoring (BCS) is a good tool by which to determine whether breeding cows are taking in enough nutrition and dry matter to support a growing calf, recover from calving and prepare for breeding. Typical recommendations call for a mature female to have a BCS of 5.5 to 6 prior to calving. Condition scoring cows takes time and needs consistency. Your Two Rivers Ruminant Production Specialist, Ashley, would love to come to go through cows and work through body condition scoring them. Ideal times to do this are at calving, rebreeding, and weaning time. Cows are typically at their lowest point at weaning which makes a year-round program nutritional program, complete with mineral and a balanced diet critical for optimum efficiency and performance.
Table 1. Return to Estrus by BCS score
One of the largest components of the cow’s diet is forage, and its quality can also make a difference in the actual nutrient availability. Having forage tested and supplementing to reach ideal nutrient and mineral intake will help to balance out the ration and give the cow what she needs to support the growing embryo.
Count on your Two Rivers Feed Team to help you select the right nutritional approach to ensure that your herd is in the best condition for conceiving and growing that 2020 calf crop.