Considering Beef Management
• Separate thin cows and heifers from the main herd due to higher nutrition requirements.
• Cow nutrition from this month to calving season affects future reproductive ability and quality of colostrum.
• Good quality stockpiled fescue or hay will meet their requirements. Lower quality hay may need supplementation.
• Beef cows will consume 5 to 11 gallons of water per day during cold weather. Be aware of frozen pond hazards and chop ice for drinking location.
• Keep replacement heifers gaining to reach 65 percent mature weight target.
• Maintain nutrition levels similar to recommended during January. Grain may be needed for lower quality forage (3 to 4 lbs. for mature cows about 8 lbs. for first calf heifers). Supplement with magnesium 30 days before calving if in a grass tetany prone area.
• Separate cows that have calved from the remainder of the herd. Nutrition requirements increase after calving by 3 percent for energy and 2 percent for protein for average lactating cows and 13 percent for energy and 4.4 percent for protein for superior lactating cows. Save the best hay for this time of year.
• Mineral supplementation is a year-round process but make sure sufficient phosphorus is available in a free choice mineral. Feed more energy if lactating cows are losing condition below a 5 condition score. This can be done by using high quality pasture if available. Small grains or annual rye grass pasture should be producing at this time. If pasture is not available, feed grain by-products, alfalfa hay or high quality grass legume hay.
• If grazing legume pasture, observe cattle for bloat. Keep a mineral source available to cows. Avoid high endophyte fescue pasture during breeding if possible. A fescue pasture with legumes would be preferred over fescue only. Rotate pasture faster to keep ahead of the grass. Start hay harvest to ensure adequate quality.
• Check water supplies because water is extremely important during hot weather. Clip pastures for weeds and seed heads as needed. Replacement heifers should be on high quality pasture. They should gain 1.25 to 1.5 lbs. per day in order to breed at 14 to 16 months. Monitor pastures closely, move cattle to fresh pasture as needed.
• Have adequate water available. Move cattle to warm season grasses while fescue is dormant.
• Watch for pastures getting short. Continue grazing warm season grasses if possible. If short on pasture, management options are supplementing the entire herd with grain, byproducts and hay or early weaning and creep feeding/grazing. Water consumption can be 20 gallons per day. Apply 50 to 60 lbs. of Nitrogen per acre to areas for stockpiling fescue.
• Supplement or wean calves from thin cows (under 5 body condition) in order to increase body condition before winter. Body condition score cows.
• Heifers should gain a minimum of 1 lb. per day during the winter, and pregnant yearlings a minimum of 1/2 pound per day. If ample forage is available (six inches or more). Limit graze small grain pastures to supplement low quality forage.
• Evaluate cows body condition score (BCS) at weaning.
• Develop a winter nutrition program to have all cows in BCS of five or six at calving to enhance re-breeding. Dry pregnant mature cows have reduced nutrient requirements during early part of gestation and can be maintained on poor quality forage. It would be better to feed poor quality hay now and save pasture and high quality hay for last trimester of gestation and lactation.
• Have your hay tested. Begin utilizing early stockpiled tall fescue. After a killing frost Alfalfa can be grazed. Supplement cows in thin body condition (less than 5).
• Prioritize winter forage supply as follows:
1. Feed lowest quality forage to mature dry cows during early winter.
2. Feed highest quality forage to young stock and lactating cows.
3. Feed medium quality forage to dry cows in late pregnancy and to mature herd sires. Feed hay to minimize waste. Stockpiled fescue would fit this category.