During winter months, nutrient requirements for pregnancy are at their peak. Young cows still have growth requirements and cold stress is significantly increasing daily maintenance requirements for all cows. Cows cannot meet these requirements and build body condition by grazing winter range or eating grass hay. In fact, even when fed good quality forage there are many days that cows must draw on body reserves to meet requirements.
Dr. Richard Whitman says that body condition at calving plays a key role in cow reproductive performance. Cows that calve in good condition give birth to healthier calves that have a better chance of survival. Cows calving in good condition produce more milk, and wean heavier calves. They are also more likely to rebreed early, and remain a productive part of the herd.
Fall is the best time to build body condition while cow nutrient requirements are relatively low. Cows are in the early stages of pregnancy, producing little or no milk, and the weather is mild. Abundant fall forages are available for grazing. Mature native ranges, improved pastures, meadow re-growth, corn stalks, stubble and straw can all be good sources of energy. If properly supplemented, these forages can easily exceed modest cow requirements and build body condition. Mineral and protein supplements help increase the digestibility and intake of fall forages, and when self-fed, they also help to improve the distribution of cattle in pastures, improve diet selection, and increase total grazing time and total forage intake.
Dr. Whitman maintains that calving cows need to go into winter in good condition. The addition of mineral and protein supplements will help cows make good use of fall forages, gain body condition, improve reproductive performance, and lower feeding costs.
Posted by Northern Ag Network