With Cattle Market Strong, Make Sure Your Cows Do Not Run Out Of Gas

MT. VERNON, MO.
   Some southwest Missouri cattle producers have begun seeing death loss among cows, lower than normal conception rates and health issues among calves and yearlings.
   “We’ve been getting a lot of questions at the Lawrence County Extension Center,” said Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension. “One factor to be considered with all those concerns is the body condition of the cattle that are involved.”
   According to Cole, the extreme cold has been hard on the cattle to the point they likely have been losing body weight. Feed intake has not been sufficient to meet their daily nutrient needs.
   “Hay tests and general observations in 2013 were that hay quality was below normal going into the winter. If you put those two items together it could spell trouble,” said Cole.
   As one farmer put it, his “cows just looked like they’d run out of gas.”
   Several hay samples taken recently have total digestible nutrient (TDN) levels between 45 and 50 percent. Those might be acceptable for fleshy, body condition score cows in the 6 plus range.
   “Lactating cows and first-calf heifers need a much higher quality hay that's in the mid to upper 50 range in TDN. Some will also need added protein above what they may be receiving from self-fed supplements,” said Cole.
   Stockpiled fescue, which is normally relied on as forage that is better than hay, has also been affected by the prolonged covering of ice and snow.
   “As we move into the busiest part of calving season, there’s a need to feed more energy, vitamin A and some extra protein to cows calving now. With the cattle market strong, it’s time to keep the cows and yearlings from running out of gas,” said Cole.
   “Your livestock specialist can help assess your cattle’s nutrient requirement and help determine the quality of your feed and how it could be economically supplemented,” said Cole.∆
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