Vet’s Voice: Late autumn management tips for the cow | TSLN.com

Vet’s Voice: Late autumn management tips for the cow

Dave Barz, DVM

For the November 27, 2010 edition of Tri-State Livestock News.

The weather has been great this fall. The harvest is completed and most of the fall tillage work is finished as well. The warm temperatures and lack of precipitation have made it easy to maintain gestating cows. Still, we can improve cow condition and decrease feed costs by simply following a few management rules now.

• Lice – Lice are a common problem in our area. We believe it is best to pour your cows now, before the weather gets cold. Lice reproduction increases drastically when the weather gets cold – pouring now minimizes populations. If lice populations increase when the weather gets cold, cattle may need to be re-poured.

• Deworm: We routinely deworm cows at this time of year. It has become very easy to administer through orals, injectables and pour-ons. In recent years we have seen resistance build to pour-ons. Several local feed stores have done egg counts on herds several weeks after pouring. They found very similar parasite egg counts before and after administering pour-ons. The injectable administration lowered the egg numbers significantly, but orals had the greatest response in removing internal parasites. With new formulations, these dewormers can be drenched or fed in the form of blocks or as pellets mixed in the ration. Once our producers orally deworm cows, they continue to because they feel they save feed and the cows are easier to condition.

• Low-quality roughage – Until the cow is 7-8 months pregnant her nutritional needs are relatively low. She can get by with a ration of low-quality roughage with a protein level of about 7 percent. Corn stalks perform well in this scenario. One acre of corn stalks will provide the nutrition a cow needs for about 30 days. They do this in several ways. First, cows glean most of the wasted grain. Next, they consume the husks and leaves. When the stalks and cobs are left, it is time to move to another field. Strip grazing with electric fences will increase utilization of the residue. Water is important in residue grazing. Graze fields away from home first and move cattle closer to home as weather becomes more like winter.

• Supplementation – Salt should always be provided. Dry grasses and cornstalks are generally low in minerals such as phosphorus and possibly some trace minerals. Cows that are supplemented with distillers grains in late gestation receive an added bonus of phosphorus, which is an expensive mineral to supplement. Trace minerals may need to be added at higher levels depending on your ranch’s need. Most add copper and vitamin E. Vitamins A and D may also be supplemented late in gestation.

• Protein – At this stage in a cow’s gestation she requires a very low-protein diet. If cows are in a body condition score (BCS) of 5-5.5, they should be fine until about sixty days before calving, when they need an increase of protein to ensure proper fetal development and colostrum formation.

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• Grazing – If we continue to have a mild winter, we will be able to graze residue and stockpiled grasses until late winter. This will save money on feed costs thus decreasing the cost of production with no detrimental effects on the cow or unborn calf and add dollars to your cow-calf operation.

The weather has been great this fall. The harvest is completed and most of the fall tillage work is finished as well. The warm temperatures and lack of precipitation have made it easy to maintain gestating cows. Still, we can improve cow condition and decrease feed costs by simply following a few management rules now.

• Lice – Lice are a common problem in our area. We believe it is best to pour your cows now, before the weather gets cold. Lice reproduction increases drastically when the weather gets cold – pouring now minimizes populations. If lice populations increase when the weather gets cold, cattle may need to be re-poured.

• Deworm: We routinely deworm cows at this time of year. It has become very easy to administer through orals, injectables and pour-ons. In recent years we have seen resistance build to pour-ons. Several local feed stores have done egg counts on herds several weeks after pouring. They found very similar parasite egg counts before and after administering pour-ons. The injectable administration lowered the egg numbers significantly, but orals had the greatest response in removing internal parasites. With new formulations, these dewormers can be drenched or fed in the form of blocks or as pellets mixed in the ration. Once our producers orally deworm cows, they continue to because they feel they save feed and the cows are easier to condition.

• Low-quality roughage – Until the cow is 7-8 months pregnant her nutritional needs are relatively low. She can get by with a ration of low-quality roughage with a protein level of about 7 percent. Corn stalks perform well in this scenario. One acre of corn stalks will provide the nutrition a cow needs for about 30 days. They do this in several ways. First, cows glean most of the wasted grain. Next, they consume the husks and leaves. When the stalks and cobs are left, it is time to move to another field. Strip grazing with electric fences will increase utilization of the residue. Water is important in residue grazing. Graze fields away from home first and move cattle closer to home as weather becomes more like winter.

• Supplementation – Salt should always be provided. Dry grasses and cornstalks are generally low in minerals such as phosphorus and possibly some trace minerals. Cows that are supplemented with distillers grains in late gestation receive an added bonus of phosphorus, which is an expensive mineral to supplement. Trace minerals may need to be added at higher levels depending on your ranch’s need. Most add copper and vitamin E. Vitamins A and D may also be supplemented late in gestation.

• Protein – At this stage in a cow’s gestation she requires a very low-protein diet. If cows are in a body condition score (BCS) of 5-5.5, they should be fine until about sixty days before calving, when they need an increase of protein to ensure proper fetal development and colostrum formation.

• Grazing – If we continue to have a mild winter, we will be able to graze residue and stockpiled grasses until late winter. This will save money on feed costs thus decreasing the cost of production with no detrimental effects on the cow or unborn calf and add dollars to your cow-calf operation.

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