Vet’s Voice: Cow care during the last trimester of pregnancy | TSLN.com

Vet’s Voice: Cow care during the last trimester of pregnancy

Dave Barz, DVM

Winter is really challenging to cow-calf operations. The cold wind and snow put stress on gestating cows. Many of the cows we inspect at the auction market show weight loss, resulting in poor body condition. It is very important not to cut any corners with your breeding herd.

Nutrition during the last trimester of gestation is very important. This is the time when the calf grows very rapidly. If the cow is not receiving adequate nutrition, the calf may be weak at birth or under weight. The cow is also formulating colostrum from circulating antibodies. If the cow is missing adequate nutrients, the quality of colostrum will be compromised and the calf will not gain adequate immunity after birth. In some cases, cows may be so weak that they are unable to properly deliver the calf.

During cold weather louse populations increase. Many cows we are pregnancy-checking at auction are showing areas of louse infestation. We are also seeing resistance developing to many of the commonly used pour-ons. It may be a good idea to repour the cowherd to minimize any louse populations which may have evaded primary treatment.

Internal parasites also compete with the cow for nutrition. If animals have not been dewormed, it may be cost effective to administer a dewormer. Familiar are the injectable and drench products, but product is also available in blocks, mineral additives and bagged pelleted products which can be added to the cow’s feed.

A simple method of estimating the nutritional needs of your herd is the use of body condition scouring (BCS). For optimum return from a cowherd, their scores should be above 5. Visit with your veterinarian or extension specialist to learn the parameters of this system. To raise a cow’s condition score by one point (raised from 4 to 5) it will take about ninety pounds added to your cow’s weight. In these extreme weather conditions, it may require the addition of energy to feedstuffs. A nutritionist can help you formulate rations which can fulfill the needs of the herd.

Water is also important to herd health. Water is needed in the rumen for normal fermentation. This releases heat and helps the cow maintain its body temperature. Water consumption also drives feed consumption. If the cow does not drink enough water, she will not consume enough feed. Many herds require cows to eat snow for water. This is fine if the cow has ate snow in the past and if the snow is not crusted over. If cows are trained to rely on drinking water from fountains or tanks, they will not derive enough water if forced to eat snow. During extreme weather it is best to have adequate drinking water available.

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The health and well-being of cows at this stage of pregnancy is very important. Not only does it affect the birth of a normal, vigorous calf and its ability to suckle high-quality colostrum, but it also affects the cow’s chances of rebreeding and her ability to produce milk. Your herd’s future depends on management. Don’t err to save a few dollars resulting in losses in your cowherd’s future.

Winter is really challenging to cow-calf operations. The cold wind and snow put stress on gestating cows. Many of the cows we inspect at the auction market show weight loss, resulting in poor body condition. It is very important not to cut any corners with your breeding herd.

Nutrition during the last trimester of gestation is very important. This is the time when the calf grows very rapidly. If the cow is not receiving adequate nutrition, the calf may be weak at birth or under weight. The cow is also formulating colostrum from circulating antibodies. If the cow is missing adequate nutrients, the quality of colostrum will be compromised and the calf will not gain adequate immunity after birth. In some cases, cows may be so weak that they are unable to properly deliver the calf.

During cold weather louse populations increase. Many cows we are pregnancy-checking at auction are showing areas of louse infestation. We are also seeing resistance developing to many of the commonly used pour-ons. It may be a good idea to repour the cowherd to minimize any louse populations which may have evaded primary treatment.

Internal parasites also compete with the cow for nutrition. If animals have not been dewormed, it may be cost effective to administer a dewormer. Familiar are the injectable and drench products, but product is also available in blocks, mineral additives and bagged pelleted products which can be added to the cow’s feed.

A simple method of estimating the nutritional needs of your herd is the use of body condition scouring (BCS). For optimum return from a cowherd, their scores should be above 5. Visit with your veterinarian or extension specialist to learn the parameters of this system. To raise a cow’s condition score by one point (raised from 4 to 5) it will take about ninety pounds added to your cow’s weight. In these extreme weather conditions, it may require the addition of energy to feedstuffs. A nutritionist can help you formulate rations which can fulfill the needs of the herd.

Water is also important to herd health. Water is needed in the rumen for normal fermentation. This releases heat and helps the cow maintain its body temperature. Water consumption also drives feed consumption. If the cow does not drink enough water, she will not consume enough feed. Many herds require cows to eat snow for water. This is fine if the cow has ate snow in the past and if the snow is not crusted over. If cows are trained to rely on drinking water from fountains or tanks, they will not derive enough water if forced to eat snow. During extreme weather it is best to have adequate drinking water available.

The health and well-being of cows at this stage of pregnancy is very important. Not only does it affect the birth of a normal, vigorous calf and its ability to suckle high-quality colostrum, but it also affects the cow’s chances of rebreeding and her ability to produce milk. Your herd’s future depends on management. Don’t err to save a few dollars resulting in losses in your cowherd’s future.

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