Feed Lot

APR-MAY 2017

Feedlots and cow/calf operations in the beef industry who feed 500 or more has annually on grains and concentrates; maintain 500 or more beef cows; backgrounder, stocker/grower, preconditioner; veterinarian, nutritionist, consultant

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24 FEED•LOT  April/May 2017 Fresh green grass is a welcome sight come spring. However, early spring grass with limited growth or volume should be approached with caution when it's used as the sole source of nutrition for recently calved cows. With limited grass volume, cows can expend more protein and energy than they are taking in and lose body condition. "Cows are also coming out of gestation and into their time of highest nutritional requirement," says Lee Dickerson, Ph.D. and sen- ior cattle consultant with Purina Animal Nutrition. "While it can be lucrative to turn cows out on pas- ture at the first sign of grass, short grass won't supply the nutrients a cow needs to perform her best." Providing adequate nutrition helps cows stay in condition, which can in turn help cows get rebred. Rebreeding success will determine the number of calves you'll have the following year and how much those calves weigh. What are the cow's require- ments coming out of gestation and into lactation? How can you en- sure you're giving her everything she needs? Needs by the numbers "Nutritional requirements climb upward from gestation to the last trimester of pregnancy and are at their highest during lactation," says Dickerson. As a cow begins lactation, her protein and phosphorus require- ments go up about 60 to 70 percent compared to requirements during the last trimester. Requirements f o r t o t a l d i g e s t i b l e n u t r i e n t s (TDN), or energy, increase by an additional 15 to 25 percent. These nutrients impact milk pro- duction, a cow's ability to get bred back quickly and, ultimately, the re- sulting calf crop. "If you only maintain your feed- ing rate from gestation to lactation, you may start shorting your cows of adequate protein and energy. This gap in nutrition can result in lost body condition and perform- ance," says Dickerson. What's at stake? Research shows that body con- dition score (BCS) at calving im- pacts how quickly cows begin cy- cling and become pregnant. For COW/CALF CORNER DON'T LET COWS FALL VICTIM TO THE SPRING NUTRIENT GAP Short Grass Can Shortchange Freshly Calved Cows at Their Time of Greatest Need. Photo courtesy of Purina

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