Cattle Nutrition in the Winter Months
Taking shortcuts on your cattle nutrition during the winter months can lead to an effect of long-term profitability. It can risk next year’s calf crop, this year’s weaning weights, and the long-term viability of your herd.
Feeding programs are dependent on variables such as:
• Forage quality.
• Cost and availability of winter supplements.
• Animal type (mature cows, replacement heifers or back-grounded calves).
• Body condition of your cattle.
• Calving date, if applicable.
Winter feeding can be accomplished with harvested forages such as hay and silage. If you do not harvest your own hay or silage, Smith Farm Supply stock quality hay for supplementation of your herd.
Grazing crop residues can also be utilized. If you are planting ryegrass, we stock three varieties for you to choose from. Varieties available are Gulf, Marshall, and Passerel. Our staff will be happy to discuss your needs and help you find the right fit.
Depending on the quality of forage, supplementation may be needed by cows when nutrient demands are not met by the basic diet the cow is offered. Typically, diets of late gestating beef cows will meet nutrient needs if they contain a minimum of 55 percent total digestible nutrients (TDN ) and 8 percent crude protein (CP).
When feeding pregnant first- and second-calf heifers due to calve in the spring, maintaining a diet with tDn at 60 percent and CP at 11 percent from the beginning of winter through early lactation should be sufficient.
Make sure you compare the nutrient intake of the diet with nutrient requirements of the cow based on animal type and pregnancy status and to determine what additional nutrient(s) are needed for supplementation.
Evaluate Cow Performance
Regardless of whether you feed stored forages or graze crop residues, the cow’s diet must be sufficient to uphold a body condition score (BCS) of 5 at weaning, a 6 at calving, and no less than a 5.5 score at breeding. At this level of condition, a cow is able to maintain its body weight and support production functions such as lactation and fetal growth. Maintaining adequate body condition in pregnant cattle is crucial in the two to three months prior to calving.
Smith Farm Supply has made it easy for you to maintain your production level by stocking quality products to help economically manage your herd’s nutrition needs in all life stages.
Also, we stock Purina’s Wind and Rain® mineral supplements that have been specifically designed to meet mineral deficiencies based on forage quality and cattle nutritional requirements. These minerals are weather resistant and are proven to enhance consistent consumption.
Cattle Nutrition is very important during the winter months. We carry several forms of supplements to help keep the cattle in good condition: range cubes, liquid feed, and supplement tubs. Contact us with questions and how we can help you get started with this program.