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Working Ranch - November/December 2017

at the feedyard. Although they had rapid rates of gain on the ranch, they generally will not increase their rate of gain in the feedyard as much as thinner calves will. Applying body condition scores as a management tool is a yearlong process. After observing animals for a year, producers may decide to change their calving time to take advantage of forage resources. For instance, most producers prefer to calve early, so they can take cow-calf pairs to grass. When calving in January and February there may not be a good stand of grass. Producers are likely providing lower quality feed when cows have their highest energy requirements. If it is a challenge to have them in the right BCS during the breeding season, consider changing calving times. What supplements help animals maintain a body condition score of fi ve? Although a complete mineral program with trace minerals helps cattle maintain immunity status, healthy feet and contributes to successful breeding, they do not help cattle maintain a desirable BCS. Ted Perry, Leader of Beef Technical Solutions with Purina Animal Nutrition, reports that in most cases forages do not meet cow requirements in the late fall and winter months. That is when producers can supplement those poor forages with protein and energy with hand-fed range cubes or grain mixes, which help maintain and build condition on cattle. Ranchers may also build body condition by supplementing the rumen microbes with free choice blocks and tubs, which increases forage digestibility and the amount of energy cows get from lower quality forages. “Protein supplementation usually comes from oil seed meals,” Perry explains. “Soybean meal is the most abundant protein supplement for cattle. In addition, ruminants also benefi t from small amounts of Non Protein Nitrogen (NPN) as well. NPN will provide nitrogen to the rumen microbes, which allows them to more effi ciently ferment feeds in the rumen, which increases feed utilization and effi ciency.” Energy supplements mainly include corn, molasses and wheat middlings. Protein supplements such as soybean meal, cottonseed meal, wheat middlings, molasses, distiller’s grains and corn gluten feed also provide a little energy. “Never let your cows have a bad day,” Perry advises. “We have more productive cattle genetics than ever before. However, those productive genetics require feed in order to produce at higher levels we expect from today’s cattle herd. Making sure that the cattle requirements are being met is one of the single best management practices that we can do.” Keeping a close eye on the cows as they progress through the year is important. BCS’s can change for different reasons… (EDITOR: for instance, the amount of groceries this cow is providing to raise this awesome heifer calf ). BODY CONDITION SCORE BEGINNINGS by Gilda V. Bryant The practice of checking Body Condition Scores (BCS) in beef cattle has been used since the 1960s, but this concept really gained traction in the 1970s and 1980s. Several beef cattle experts at Texas A&M University pioneered this numbering concept to describe the body condition of cattle based on thinness or fatness. This system was fi rst used as a management tool for reproduction and feeding management. A score of nine is a very fat animal while a score of one is extremely thin. Experts prefer scores of fi ve or six. This benefi cial scoring system is easy, convenient and no scales or special computer programs are required. Consider getting another opinion about BCS from a county extension agent, or download an extension publication that has images of different scores. Phone apps, such as http://www.farms.com/agriculture-apps/ livestock/cattle/body-condition-beef-cattle are also helpful to producers. 50 I WORKING RANCH I NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2017


Working Ranch - November/December 2017
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