A cow’s nutritional requirements are at their lowest during weaning, making it a great time to save on feed costs and utilize cheaper, lower-energy feedstuffs. But remember, while the cow’s requirements are low, they must still be met.
Understand what your cows are responsible for
, a lot of time is focused on ensuring calves stay healthy and maintain low stress levels, but this focus often leads to the cow being overlooked. The key is to put as much emphasis on the unborn calf inside the cow as you do on the ones being weaned.
Most cows are in their second trimester of pregnancy at the time of weaning. In this stage of pregnancy, the muscles of the fetus are being developed. Calves are born with nearly every muscle fiber they will have throughout life. While you can strengthen those fibers as the calf ages and goes through weaning and finishing, a more significant impact is made during muscle development in utero.
Cattle fetal programming
shows us that well-nourished bred cows develop nourished fetuses, which generally results in healthy, hardy calves. I have yet to meet a cow-calf producer who doesn’t want a heavier-muscled calf that will grow and perform well. So, making sure you’re not shorting your dams of energy and nutrients during the development of calves’ muscles is vital.
Take advantage of low nutritional requirements
Weaning time is an excellent opportunity to catch cows up on their body condition score (BCS)
. Due to the low nutritional requirements at this time, you can get your cows to gain without much additional feed costs.
Throughout the year, aim for a BCS 6 across your herd and maintain a minimum of a BCS 5 at weaning. Providing supplemental feed like Purina® RangeLand® tubs
to maintain body condition score or Purina® Accuration® Hi-Fat blocks
and liquid can help cows gain condition and better utilize low-quality forages while also providing the energy and protein cows need.
Build a nutrition program that supports your cows
Using cheaper forages when cows have low nutritional requirements is a great way to save costs. However, ensure you also provide your cows with a balanced vitamin and mineral program that covers their nutritional needs. Utilizing Purina®
products is a good option for filling in the gaps.
Purina® Wind and Rain® mineral
helps your cows utilize all the energy and protein in their feed while also addressing mineral deficiencies in the available forage. When grazing crop residue, like corn stalks, Purina®
tubs are an especially good fit as they provide protein for your cows while stimulating rumen fermentation of the lower-quality forage. Implementing these strategies can help your herd maintain optimal condition and health, even with lower-quality forage.
Remember, while a cow’s nutritional requirements are low at the time of weaning, they still must be met. To ensure your cows have what they need to maintain optimal body condition score
and develop healthy calves, implement a management program that will save you money by taking advantage of lower-quality forages but will also provide them with a well-balanced cattle nutrition program.
Does your cattle nutrition program stack up? Find out with a Proof Pays trial.