Spring Calving Cow Herd
? Purchase replacement bulls at least 30 days prior to the start of the breeding season. Have herd bulls evaluated for breeding soundness (10-20% of bulls are questionable or unsatisfactory breeders). Get all bulls in proper condition for breeding.
? If you are going to use artificial insemination and/or estrus synchronization, make plans now and order needed supplies and semen.
? Prevent grass tetany! Provide magnesium in the mineral mix until daytime temperatures are consistently above 60oF. Mineral supplement should be available at all times and contain a minimum of about 14 percent magnesium. Make sure that your mineral mix also contains adequate selenium, copper and zinc or you can ask your feed dealer for the UK Beef IRM High Magnesium Mineral.
? Continue to feed cows that have calved on an adequate nutritional plan to rebreed. Increase their feed after calving. Don’t let them lose body condition.
? Continue to watch cows and calves closely. Identify calves while they are young and easy to handle. Commercial male calves should be castrated and implanted. Registered calves should be weighed at birth.
? Make final selection of heifer replacements. Be sure that yearling heifers have attained their "target" weight (2/3 of mature weight) before breeding. Obtain measurements for pelvic area in heifers and cull those which have small pelvic areas. Consider vaccinating with a modified-live BVD vaccine.
? Don’t “rush to grass” although it can be really tempting. Be sure that grass has accumulated enough growth to support the cow’s nutritional needs before depending solely upon it. Cows may walk the pastures looking for green grass instead of eating dry feed. This lush, watery grass is not adequate to support them. Keep them consuming dry feed until sufficient grass is available to sustain body condition. We’ve spent too much money keeping them in good condition to lose it now!
? Prebreeding or "turn-out" working is usually scheduled for late April or May - between the end of calving season and before the start of the breeding season (while cows are open). Consult your veterinarian about vaccines and health products your herd needs. Make arrangements now for products needed and have handling facilities in good working order. Dehorn commercial calves before going to pasture.
? Start breeding heifers 1 heat cycle before cows so that they have extra time to recover from calving next year.
Fall Calving Cow Herd
? Pregnancy check cows now and cull open ones at weaning or move to the spring-calving herd.
? You may let calves creep-graze wheat or rye, if it is available. Calves will benefit from extra feed until spring grass appears.
? Reimplant feeders.
? Consult with your veterinarian about a preweaning working of the herd.
? Plan marketing strategy for feeder calves.
? "Condition" purchased calves prior to grazing. They should be processed and fed a conditioning diet prior to being placed on pasture. You can also use this time to introduce them to electric fences which are used in rotational grazing.
? Don't go to pastures too soon, give plants some growing time. Then stock at two to three times the July rate and rotate rapidly.
? Provide a good mineral supplement which contains a rumen modifier (Rumensin, Bovatec, etc.) along with adequate levels of copper and selenium. The UK Beef IRM Stocker mineral with Monensin will work well in this case.
? Get everything ready to make high quality hay in May! Have equipment serviced and spare parts on hand. Order baler twine now. Be prepared to harvest an adequate supply of hay when you have the opportunity. Re-supply the extra hay that you fed out of the barn.
? Prepare for the grazing season. Check fences and make necessary repairs. The ice storm damaged a lot of our pasture fences.
? Plan now for fly control ... decide what fly control program that you will use but don't put insecticide eartags on cattle until fly population appears.
? Make plans to improve hay feeding areas to avoid muddy conditions like we have faced this winter. Consider geotextile fabric with gravel.
Source: Dr. Roy Burris, University of Kentucky Beef Specialist
Spring Calving Cow Herd
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