When visiting farmers with beef cow-calf enterprises throughout instances when feed costs are high or hay is in brief provide, a couple of will often make a remark about roughing the cows through the winter. “Roughing the cows through” often means the cows should “make do” with the feed available or that which will be obtained cheaply. This feeding technique typically leads to the cows losing a few pounds through the winter and having a less-than-ideal physique situation rating of 5 to six at calving.
Within the quick time period, this seems to cut back prices and lower your expenses. Nevertheless, if we glance to the long run, the affect of roughing the cows through the winter impacts the underside line a lot in a different way than the preliminary look of financial savings.
Cattle with poor BCS produce poorer-quality colostrum and fewer milk throughout lactation. Calves born to cows with less-than-ideal BCS usually tend to be weaker at beginning, extra prone to sickness because of decrease high quality and amount of colostrum, and have decrease weaning weights because of poor milk manufacturing. Subsequently, the cost of roughing cows through their being pregnant not solely impacts the approaching yr’s calf crop, but additionally regularly lingers into future manufacturing cycles, as described within the following paragraphs.
The targets for a cow-calf operation ought to be a calving interval of twelve months for every cow, and a fairly quick calving season (30 to 45 days), leading to a uniform calf crop. Uniform teams of feeder calves have a tendency to draw extra curiosity and better costs from patrons.
To realize a 365-day calving interval, the cow’s postpartum interval (time from calving to when she begins biking) ought to be about 60 days for her to be rebred in 80 to 85 days. Analysis trials analyzing the results of cows coming through the winter too skinny at calving time present how poor physique situation can negatively affect calving interval. Most herds will doubtless have a wider vary in physique situation because of age, herd social order, genetics, and so on., and consequently may have much less calf crop uniformity.
The desk beneath exhibits the affect of BCS at calving on postpartum interval and why 5 is the goal BCS for mature cows at calving.
The following desk compares the connection between a cow’s BCS at calving and whole revenue. As BCS decreases, being pregnant charge and weaning weight each decline. This may result in a extreme discount in revenue.
Roughing the cows through winter could look good upfront, however the examples proven right here point out that the long-term prices are actual. When overwintering cows, choices to save cash could embody grouping the cows with comparable dietary wants and supplementing accordingly for that group. An instance of grouping is placing first- and second-calf cows right into a separate group, as they’re nonetheless rising themselves along with producing a calf.
As well as, check your forages so you already know what you’ve got, after which buy the extra feed you want, slightly than guess and never spend your cash as effectively as potential. Relying in your forage high quality, some cows will want little, if any, supplementation, and others may have extra.
Halfman is the Monroe County Extension agriculture agent. This column is offered by the University of Wisconsin Division of Extension Livestock Team.