Importance of pre-calving management | TSLN.com

Importance of pre-calving management

Steve Paisley

Impact of control vs. safflower meal (high fat) supplement fed for 60 days prior to calving on calf immunity and health. Adapted from Small and Paisley, University of Wyoming.

Relative prices for feed, fuel and fertilizer have dramatically affected all producer’s production budgets. Despite relatively good markets, overall feed prices have pushed fall calf prices lower compared to one year ago. The immediate, and probably correct response by producers has been to reduce overall inputs into the cow herd. Calving date, windrow grazing, deferred winter grazing are all methods to reduce overall feed inputs into the herd. Unfortunately, reducing or eliminating supplementation programs may also be considered as a way to reduce annual costs. While every producer should be interested in ways to reduce costs, current research indicates that pre-calving management is still very important to the cow herd, and that cutting back or eliminating pre-calving supplementation may have important consequences to consider.

Research in the 1960’s and 1970’s suggested that cow condition and management prior to calving was important. Data from the University of Wyoming in 1975 showed that cow nutrition 30 days prior to calving had a dramatic effect on calf health and survivability. However, in recent years, attempts to dramatically reduce cow-calf input costs by changing management styles and pushing back calving date have perhaps lulled us into forgetting how important pre-calving nutrition is, not only to the cow, but more importantly to the calf.

Several recent studies all indicate that pre-calving nutrition, while having variable responses in the cow, almost always shows a positive response in the calves produced from those pregnancies. A study conducted at the University of Wyoming in 2003 (Table 1) suggests that cows will respond to a high-fat pre-calving supplement by positively impacting the immune transfer to the calf. In this case, cows were fed a traditional corn/SBM supplement or high fat supplement (safflower meal) for 60 days prior to calving. Calves were sampled 12 to 24 hours after birth to determine the level of transfer to the calf. Antibody transfer, as well fatty acid transfer was enhanced by feeding the supplement for two months prior to calving. While they were unable to show a significant impact on overall health, the number of calves that were treated, or died, were reduced by supplementation.

Two Nebraska studies (Tables 2 and 3) have also shown that pre-calving supplements are beneficial not only for weaning weights, but also for subsequent pre-breeding weights and overall conception rates of heifers produced from those pregnancies. Both of these studies were three year experiments designed to evaluate the impact of pre-calving supplements. The two studies report a 13 pound (steers) and 17 pound (heifers) increase in weaning weights, perhaps explained by the immune transfer data in Table 1.

Relative prices for feed, fuel and fertilizer have dramatically affected all producer’s production budgets. Despite relatively good markets, overall feed prices have pushed fall calf prices lower compared to one year ago. The immediate, and probably correct response by producers has been to reduce overall inputs into the cow herd. Calving date, windrow grazing, deferred winter grazing are all methods to reduce overall feed inputs into the herd. Unfortunately, reducing or eliminating supplementation programs may also be considered as a way to reduce annual costs. While every producer should be interested in ways to reduce costs, current research indicates that pre-calving management is still very important to the cow herd, and that cutting back or eliminating pre-calving supplementation may have important consequences to consider.

Research in the 1960’s and 1970’s suggested that cow condition and management prior to calving was important. Data from the University of Wyoming in 1975 showed that cow nutrition 30 days prior to calving had a dramatic effect on calf health and survivability. However, in recent years, attempts to dramatically reduce cow-calf input costs by changing management styles and pushing back calving date have perhaps lulled us into forgetting how important pre-calving nutrition is, not only to the cow, but more importantly to the calf.

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Several recent studies all indicate that pre-calving nutrition, while having variable responses in the cow, almost always shows a positive response in the calves produced from those pregnancies. A study conducted at the University of Wyoming in 2003 (Table 1) suggests that cows will respond to a high-fat pre-calving supplement by positively impacting the immune transfer to the calf. In this case, cows were fed a traditional corn/SBM supplement or high fat supplement (safflower meal) for 60 days prior to calving. Calves were sampled 12 to 24 hours after birth to determine the level of transfer to the calf. Antibody transfer, as well fatty acid transfer was enhanced by feeding the supplement for two months prior to calving. While they were unable to show a significant impact on overall health, the number of calves that were treated, or died, were reduced by supplementation.

Two Nebraska studies (Tables 2 and 3) have also shown that pre-calving supplements are beneficial not only for weaning weights, but also for subsequent pre-breeding weights and overall conception rates of heifers produced from those pregnancies. Both of these studies were three year experiments designed to evaluate the impact of pre-calving supplements. The two studies report a 13 pound (steers) and 17 pound (heifers) increase in weaning weights, perhaps explained by the immune transfer data in Table 1.

Relative prices for feed, fuel and fertilizer have dramatically affected all producer’s production budgets. Despite relatively good markets, overall feed prices have pushed fall calf prices lower compared to one year ago. The immediate, and probably correct response by producers has been to reduce overall inputs into the cow herd. Calving date, windrow grazing, deferred winter grazing are all methods to reduce overall feed inputs into the herd. Unfortunately, reducing or eliminating supplementation programs may also be considered as a way to reduce annual costs. While every producer should be interested in ways to reduce costs, current research indicates that pre-calving management is still very important to the cow herd, and that cutting back or eliminating pre-calving supplementation may have important consequences to consider.

Research in the 1960’s and 1970’s suggested that cow condition and management prior to calving was important. Data from the University of Wyoming in 1975 showed that cow nutrition 30 days prior to calving had a dramatic effect on calf health and survivability. However, in recent years, attempts to dramatically reduce cow-calf input costs by changing management styles and pushing back calving date have perhaps lulled us into forgetting how important pre-calving nutrition is, not only to the cow, but more importantly to the calf.

Several recent studies all indicate that pre-calving nutrition, while having variable responses in the cow, almost always shows a positive response in the calves produced from those pregnancies. A study conducted at the University of Wyoming in 2003 (Table 1) suggests that cows will respond to a high-fat pre-calving supplement by positively impacting the immune transfer to the calf. In this case, cows were fed a traditional corn/SBM supplement or high fat supplement (safflower meal) for 60 days prior to calving. Calves were sampled 12 to 24 hours after birth to determine the level of transfer to the calf. Antibody transfer, as well fatty acid transfer was enhanced by feeding the supplement for two months prior to calving. While they were unable to show a significant impact on overall health, the number of calves that were treated, or died, were reduced by supplementation.

Two Nebraska studies (Tables 2 and 3) have also shown that pre-calving supplements are beneficial not only for weaning weights, but also for subsequent pre-breeding weights and overall conception rates of heifers produced from those pregnancies. Both of these studies were three year experiments designed to evaluate the impact of pre-calving supplements. The two studies report a 13 pound (steers) and 17 pound (heifers) increase in weaning weights, perhaps explained by the immune transfer data in Table 1.

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