Calf values have definitely risen so it’s even more important to focus on management issues that affect calf health. Michigan State University Extension educators recommend nutrition and disease prevention as the top two focal points all producers should plan for.
Planning ahead helps meet nutritional requirements for cows and heifers
- Cows need higher quality feedstuffs during the last trimester and especially during early lactation to ensure health and performance of both the cow and her calf.
- Rations should be formulated from feedstuff with known feed analysis especially if producers are feeding “non-traditional” feedstuffs.
- Consider utilizing cow ration balancing software to improve efficiency.
- Focus attention on the cow and heifer the last 60 days prior to calving as it takes about 60 days to improve Body Condition Score (BCS) by one point.
- Identify body condition issues in the cow herd and group females that need additional nutrition and separate them from cows in good BCS.
- Mineral and vitamin requirement will likely change if you move away from hay diets.
Calf performance should focus on several factors:
- Consider vaccinating bred females to prevent calf scours (consult your vet for details).
- Identify calves and complete newborn health management and castration early.
- Develop bedding areas away from the cows where calves can stay clean and dry.
- Observe calves daily during the first 14 days of life for early disease detection.
- As winter starts moving toward spring, cow-calf producers should focus on calving and managing the cow-calf environment. Calf values have definitely risen so it’s even more important to focus on management issues that affect calf health. Nutrition and disease prevention are the top two focal points all producers should plan for.
Many cow-calf producers may be facing feed shortages and economic challenges this year if feed resources remain scarce or prices don’t come down. Managing these challenges should help you survive this battle so your cow-calf enterprise will survive to be rewarded in future years. For registration information on upcoming programs in Feb., visit the MSU Beef Team website.