How to overcome the challenges of feeding cattle on wet ground
(SAINT JOSEPH, Mo., Nov.21, 2018) It seems like ol’ Mother Nature hasn’t held back this fall when it comes to rainfall. Some parts of the U.S. are 20-30 inches above their normal precipitation for the year, with still a good six weeks left on the calendar. Harvest has been a challenge in many parts of the country, as has been planting winter wheat. But for cow-calf producers, they see green grasses and plenty of it in their pastures.
However, just because it is November, and you still have green grass, don’t think your cattle are getting the nutrients the need as they graze. Due to the time of year and shorter days, those forages aren’t likely to be as nutrient-dense as they are in early spring or summer, and you will want to be sure to supplement your herd accordingly.
“Most people probably don’t want to supplement because they have lots of forage, but with day length and time of year, those plants are starting to go dormant and losing quality. So, protein, along with mineral supplementation is warranted. Don’t assume your forages are ok just because it’s been wet,” said Dr. Casey McMurphy, Beef & Dairy Technical Support for BioZyme® Inc.
Dr. McMurphy said some of the biggest challenges are keeping the mineral dry, palatable and in a location where the cattle can easily get to it without stomping it into the ground. That is why he suggests a product like the VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® Protein Tub.
“That’s where tubs are advantageous. They are already in a container, palatable, and the cattle can consume protein. The cattle don’t need a lot of protein, just a little bit to help digest the lower quality forage. And you can put the tubs in different places to entice grazing distribution,” Dr. McMurphy said.
Foot Rot Precautions
Although foot rot is always a concern, the challenge increases in the wet weather and increased mud. Dr. McMurphy said to maintain hoof integrity and help prevent foot rot, ample supplies of available zinc should be included in the mineral supplement. Zinc is included in all VitaFerm products to help with hoof health.
Because of the excessive moisture, Dr. McMurphy said that some stockers haven’t been turned out to wheat pasture yet. However, for those that have, they will still need supplemented as they always have been. VitaFerm makes a complete line of supplements for calves in background operations. VitaFerm® Gain Smart® comes in formulas for those on wheat, on pasture and in background yards: VitaFerm Gain Smart Wheat, VitaFerm Gain Smart Balancer and VitaFerm Gain Smart RU1600.
It isn’t typical to see standing water in much of the Midwest this time of year, or see what appears to be lush, great grass cover the hillside. But don’t let that green grass fool you. Take time to supplement your grazing cattle – both cattle in production and those calves you might be backgrounding – and go get the maximum performance you expect from your herd. To learn more about VitaFerm products, visit http://www.vitaferm.com.
– BioZyme Inc.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Oct. 23, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News