minerals as long as possible before the
calving season starts and at a minimum
continuing until 45 days after
the end of the breeding season.
Recent research shows mineral supplementation
with complexed trace
minerals improves early embryo survivability.
Russell reports over half of the
pregnancy losses occur in the fi rst 42
days after conception. When ranchers
provide better nutrition to develop the
quality of the egg, they also increase
the embryo’s quality and survival rate.
Ultimately, pregnancy rates rise and
more full-term calves are born when
mineral supplementation is available.
“We’ve also got to think about supplementing
our bulls,” Russell adds.
“It’s probably easier to keep mineral
in front of those guys year-round.”
Mineral supplementation improves
sperm morphology and motility and
even helps maintain better quality
sperm, despite heat stress during summer
CATTLE DON’T GET
OVER A BAD START
All minerals are essential for successful
conception. For example, zinc
plays a role in many enzyme systems,
as well as DNA transcription and replication
in a growing fetus. Copper
is necessary for proper metabolism,
pigmentation and promotes immune
function. Manganese is crucial for
proper fetal bone development.
Selenium is critical for normal growth,
fertility and acts as an antioxidant.
Beef nutritionists can help producers
develop a mineral supplementation
feeding plan for improved conception
rates by testing primary feed
and water sources. They search for
antagonists such as iron, molybdenum
or sulfur. Sulfur inhibits copper
and selenium while iron hinders manganese
and copper. Molybdenum also
hampers copper absorption, resulting
in a rough hair coat, poor fertility and
loss of body condition.
They also score the current animal
performance and learn about the producer’s
goals. For example, Russell
checks benchmarks such as the
length of the breeding season, how
many females conceived in the fi rst
30 days of the breeding season and
the number of calves born.
Other supplements include protein
and energy, vital for maintaining
appropriate body condition scores of
fi ve or six. When cows or heifers are
too thin or too fat, there are negative
effects on conception. The rumen’s
microbial population requires at least
seven percent protein so they can digest
forages. When cows are nursing calves,
their protein requirements increase.
“Start early,” Russell recommends.
“We never get over a bad fi rst impression
and cattle don’t get over a bad
start. Doing a good job with our calves
pays dividends long-term. Take care of
your heifers; they’re the next generation.
Make sure the products or ingredients
you’re using have the performance
and research to back them up.”
Luke Haygood sorting heifers with his dad, Lee.
Mark Haygood pushing bulls.
HAYGOOD FAMILY ARCHIVE HAYGOOD FAMILY ARCHIVE
36 I WORKING RANCH I JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019