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Working Ranch - March 2016

cows are thinner than a five, they will remain in the anestrus state for a longer period. They aren’t going to cycle.” It is also important to provide a ration that has ample energy and protein to meet the animal’s growing needs and maintain body condition. It is often difficult for cattlemen to provide a positive energy balance for cattle in a pasture. Grass may be green in early spring, but may be limited in quantity or quality. “Those cows can actually be energy depleted,” McPeake explains. “It might look like there’s lots of forage for them to eat. Make sure they are on a ration that meets or exceeds their nutritional requirements prior to calving.” Producers should also consider the effects of weather-related stress. Spring calving herds that endure cold, wet conditions have an increased maintenance energy requirement of 30 to 50 percent. This is the time to supplement the herd with range cubes or grain to provide extra energy to prevent weight loss. If cold, wet weather continues without additional energy supplementation, cows will be in poor shape at calving. To ach rancher’s goal is to have the best breeding season possible. Several elements must come together at just the right time, such as body condition, energy, protein and mineral supplements for breeding success. A successful calf crop doesn’t materialize by magic—it takes informed, effective management skills. Body Condition Score (BCS) is essential according to Andrew McPeake, PhD, sales manager for VitaFerm and co-owner of CAM Ranches, a purebred Angus operation near Arnoldsville, Georgia. He encourages producers to consider body condition long before calving because it has a significant impact on the animal’s ability to rebreed. A BCS of five during gestation enables the dam to have adequate body reserves to make it through the rigors of early lactation without weight loss or supplementation. McPeake says those cows will breed back in a timely fashion to maintain the next calf crop. “If they’re thin, it’s tough to start the milking process,” McPeake explains. “If 40 | WORKING RANCH | MARCH 2016 ensure that cows are not in a negative energy balance during the breeding season, monitor pasture conditions. Cows can be moved to different pastures and supplemented as needed. Ranchers may also supplement prebiotics when animals graze poor forage or baled hay. This product helps stabilize the pH in the rumen, creating an environment that allows the microbes to multiply faster. They digest marginal feedstuffs, providing supplemental protein to the animal. The cow’s energy intake increases because she is processing more feed through the rumen. Minerals also influence breeding success. Phosphorus is usually the first limiting mineral in a pasture or foragebased system. McPeake recommends that producers match phosphorus to their feeding programs. For example, those who feed distiller’s grains are providing a cost-effective, soluble protein for the rumen’s microbes, as well as phosphorus and energy. Four pounds per head per day provides the same amount of phosphorus as feeding a 12-percent phosphorous mineral. In this feeding scenario, cattle CAM Ranches is a purebred Angus operation near Arnoldsville, Georgia. CAM RANCHES


Working Ranch - March 2016
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