By Extension

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY STEVE TONN
Taking a chance on losing the calf that the cow has worked all year to produce is risky.

As calving season approaches, there are certain considerations that must be thought through and preparations made for the calving season. To get a herd in a secure position, you need to work on increasing disease resistance and limiting disease challenges. The key to increasing disease resistance in newborn calves is building and managing high quality colostrum.

Building high quality colostrum starts when you provide all cows in your herd with optimum nutrition. This involves implementing good management practices. It always is a good policy to examine your herd and determine the current nutritional status. After the herd evaluation, you may decide that the herd needs to be divided into different nutritional groups based on body condition. Keep in mind that first calf heifers are doing three things: growing, preparing for milk production and maintaining condition. The additional growing requirement compares to cows who are in the prime of their life and are concerned only on body maintenance and reproduction. One idea may be to group the first calf heifers and thin cows together and feed them separately from the mature cows in good condition. Rations that provide high quality hay, adequate protein and higher levels of energy often contribute to overfed situations in mature cows. Preparing the cow herd for a body condition score of 5 or 6 indicates good management and proper nutrition have been provided prior to the calving season.

Throughout the last trimester of pregnancy, several things are happening physically with the fetus. Fetal growth increases rapidly through this period. The nutritional requirements of the cow increase tremendously at this time. Failure to meet these requirements dictates lighter, weaker calves at birth, less disease resistance in the calf and increases the possibility of an elevated calf death rate.

Cows receiving adequate nutrition have calves with higher birth weights and lower calf death loss, compared to cows with low body condition scores prior to calving. Another very important observation is that calves born to first calf heifers receiving proper diets prior to calving produced 11% more body heat and required less time to stand after calving, compared to calves born to heifers receiving inadequate diets. Keep in mind that adequate nutrition doesn?t cost – it pays in numerous ways through the beef cow?s year.

Corn and Grain Sorghum Production Seminar

Corn and grain sorghum producers are invited to attend a grower?s seminar on January 27, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hillsboro City Building. K-State Extension specialists will discuss complete fertility plans for no till and conventional till systems, weed control programs and strategies, production practices for row spacing, plant populations, planting dates, insect control and economics. This in-depth seminar will provide information to help producers be more competitive in their farming business.

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