Vitamin A

ELDON COLE

MT. VERNON, MO.
   I get lots of questions about trace minerals but not a lot about Vitamin A. Following extended periods of dry, short pastures cows and yearlings may need Vitamin A supplemented as much as any mineral. Vitamin A can be stored in the body for future use. For that reason, a vitamin A injection when you’re treating for lice or giving the cows a scours vaccination makes sense.
   Dr. Eric Bailey at MU sent us word that a fire in Germany affected vitamin A production. That has resulted in higher prices on mineral and feeds containing vitamin A. Usually vitamin A injections are less expensive.
   SHORT PASTURES
   Everyone is concerned about the lack of rain that’s resulted in short fescue pastures and low pond water supplies. Dry winter weather is fine up to a point but the lack of late fall fescue growth will take away some of the fall/winter fescue pasture. This pasture always provides more nutrition than you might think. Crude protein on fall fescue will run 10 percent or higher while total digestible nutrients (TDN) will be in the 53-57 percent range. That makes a nice complementary forage for cow herds.
   Of course, if that fescue is already eaten off you’ll resort to setting out some pretty sorry hay that’s been stored outside and may be two years old. A lot of that hay tests below 10 percent protein and below 50% TDN. A cow that calved in September and is already bred back can make it especially if she is a condition score 5 or 6.
   The high nutrition needs are those females that will begin calving in January and February. Try to keep them in good flesh. Feeding low quality hay without fall stockpiled fescue isn’t the answer. If your hay is poor and the pasture’s gone an investment in alfalfa or alfalfa-orchard grass hay makes sense as a supplement. Be sure there is ample space around your hay feeders so even the timid, less aggressive cows can get their share of high quality hay. ∆
   ELDON COLE: Extension Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri
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