Spring-Calving Cow Herd (Get ready for a successful breeding season)
• Choose the best pastures for grazing during the breeding season. Select those with the best stand of
clover and the lowest level of the fescue endophyte, if known. Keep these pastures vegetative by
grazing or clipping. High quality pastures are important for a successful breeding season.
• Continue supplying a high magnesium mineral until daytime temperatures are consistently above 60
• Bulls should have a breeding soundness evaluation (BSE) well before the breeding season. They
should also receive their annual booster vaccinations and be dewormed.
• Schedule spring or "turn-out" working in late April or early May - at the end of calving season and
before the start of breeding season. Consult with your veterinarian about vaccines and health products
for your herd. “Turn-out” working for the cow herd may include:
> Prebreeding vaccinations
> Replacing lost identification tags
> Sort cows into breeding groups, if using more than one bull
> Insecticide eartags (best to wait until fly population builds up)
• Turn-out working of calves may include:
> Vaccinate IBR-PI3, Clostridial diseases and Pinkeye
> Dehorn, if needed (can be done with electric dehorner and fly repellent during fly season)
> Castrate and implant male feeder calves (if not done at birth)
> Insecticide eartags
• Start breeding yearling replacement heifers one heat cycle (about 21 days) earlier than cows for
"Head-start" calving. Mate to known calving-ease bulls.
• Begin breeding cows no later than mid-May, especially if they are on high endophyte fescue. Cows
should be in good condition so that conception occurs prior to periods of extreme heat.
• If using artificial insemination:
> Check the herd at least twice daily (early morning and late evening) to observe cows in heat
(Confining cows to a limited grazing area will ease this chore).
> Use an experienced inseminator.
> Make positive identification of cows and semen used. This will permit accurate records on date
bred, return to heat, calving date and sire.
> Good handling facilities and gentle working of the cows are essential.
• Record identification of all cows and bulls in each breeding group.
• Observe breeding pastures often to see if bulls are working. Record cows' heat dates and then check
18-21 days later, for return to heat.
• Pregnancy check the cow herd. Remove open cows at weaning time.
• Let fall calves remain with cows during the spring “flush” of pasture for heavier weaning weights,
unless cows are really thin – then you might go ahead with weaning.
• Plan marketing program for calves. Consider various options, such as maintaining ownership and
backgrounding in a grazing program, or precondition and sell in a CPH-45 feeder calf sale.
• Initiate fly control for the cows when fly population builds up.
• Keep calves on good pasture and rotate pastures rapidly during periods of lush growth. Manage to
keep pastures vegetative for best performance.
• Control internal and external parasites.
• Provide mineral mix with an ionophore.
• Implant as needed.
• Harvest hay. Work around the weather and cut early before plants become too mature. Harvesting
forage early is the key to nutritional quality. Replenish your hay supply!
• Clip pastures to prevent seedhead formation on fescue and to control weeds.
• Rotate pastures as needed to keep them vegetative.
• Seed warm season grasses this month.
Source: Dr. Roy Burris, University of Kentucky Beef Specialist