Basic Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cows
University of Florida
Meeting the basic nutrient requirements of beef cows is a key component of meeting cow herd production and profitability goals for the beef cattle enterprise. Adequate nutrition is vital for adequate cow reproduction, cow and calf health, and growth of all classes of cattle. Nutrient requirements of cattle change throughout the year based upon stage of the production cycle, age, sex, breed, level of activity, pest load, and environment. All of the previous factors mentioned have an additive effect on the nutrient requirements of cattle. In all cases, specific adjustments to the standard nutrient requirements may be warranted. Therefore, it is imperative that cattle producers have an adequate understanding of the basic nutrient requirements of the cow herd to make informed and effective nutrition-related decisions.
In most production situations, the basis for cow herd nutrient supply is grazed or harvested forage. With the utilization of forage comes the need for seasonal supplementation strategies to compensate for forage quality deficiencies. Without knowledge of the cows basic nutrient requirements, effective and cost effective supplementation practices will be difficult to implement.
Summer mineral considerations
Feed costs are the major costs in producing a weaned calf. The beef cattle industry has recently experienced its greatest profi ts per cow in history. However, in the last two to three years those returns have been reduced by 60% to 70%, even though fi ve-weight weaned calves in the fall have sold in the $125-per-hundredweight (cwt.) range. Feed costs, labor costs, fuel costs and machinery costs have contributed to the increase in cow costs. Mineral costs, especially phosphorus (P) costs, are expected to increase substantially this year. Mineral costs are not a major cost compared to other costs such as harvested feed costs, but as producers strive to remain competitive in a climate where costs continue to increase, they will need to push the pencil on every management decision.
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Steps to help keep young cows in your herd.
Heather Smith Thomas
Just like with a toddler, the “terrible 2s” is a young cow’s toughest time. She’s nursing her first calf and still growing, and she needs enough nutrition and body condition to cycle on schedule after calving. If all these needs are not met, she may end up open or calving late the next year.
It can often be a challenge to get young cows rebred without losing ground in their calving schedule. Two-year-olds and some 3-year-olds need a little more care and management than mature cows. Experience proves a 2-year-old is the most valuable and expensive animal in the herd; she has not yet generated any income, yet a lot of money has been invested in her. So if she fails to stay in the herd, this is a significant financial loss.
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Feeding Natural Cattle
Tyler A. Melroe and Erik R. Loe, Animal and Range Sciences Department, South Dakota State University
Some consumers are willing to pay a premium for “natural” beef products from production systems not utilizing implants, ionophores, or antibiotics. Producers marketing to these systems can attain substantial premiums. The term “natural” as defined by the USDA, is extremely loose, and all fresh beef qualifies as a natural product. However, “natural” is more strictly defined by the marketplace. Claims, which vary from company to company, are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and must be verifiable. It is generally accepted that cattle qualifying for natural programs have never received antibiotics or hormones at any time from birth to harvest.
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Industry renews animal care commitment
For decades, beef producers have known giving animals the proper care, handling and nutrition is not only the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense. After all, sound handling practices affect the well-being of cattle, individual animal health, herd productivity and profitability. However, these practices recently have come into question due to the animal mishandling case at Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company of Chino, CA. Although, according to American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle, this was an isolated incident and in no way represented the type of treatment cattle receive at processing plants on a daily basis, it has led the entire industry to review recommended handling procedures.
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Overseeding Summer Sods With Winter Annuals
Alabama Extension Service
One of the most profitable forage management options available to Alabama cattlemen is overseeding or sod-seeding winter annual forage crops on the dormant sods of summer perennial grasses. This has been proven by research conducted by Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station personnel and verified not only by Extension demonstrations but also by hundreds of individual producers. Yet many cattlemen are overlooking this opportunity. There are more than two million acres of bahiagrass, bermudagrass, and dallisgrass pastures in Alabama, but only a small part of this acreage is overseeded.
When can my cows be put out onto pasture in the spring?
Pastures should not be grazed until the 4-leaf stage or when the plants are at least 6 to 8 inches tall. If you have a high proportion of legumes in the pasture, do not graze until the plants are 8 to 12 inches tall. Grazing native range before the third leaf stage can result in the loss of over 60% of the potential forage yield.