With spring pasture grass growth progressing in cattle country, getting cows bred and settled is the current focus of the cow herd. Most early pasture grasses will provide adequate nutrition to support the cow’s needs for reproduction and lactation. The exception is during the grass tetany period when rapidly growing, lush grass is deficient in magnesium. During this period, make sure you have a high magnesium product available and continue hay feeding until the pasture is 6‐8 inches tall and has adequate magnesium content.
Lactation, Re‐breeding and Development of Fetal Tissues
Total cow nutrition should be the primary focus to support good lactation for calf growth and maintenance of body condition for first cycle breeding. In addition, providing adequate nutrient needs of the fetal calf, especially during the first trimester of gestation is critical for optimum calf development, growth and performance later in life.
Supplementation of protein, energy and minerals may still be needed at this time of year in some regions of the country to meet the total nutrient needs of the mother, suckling calf and developing fetus. Regional areas experiencing drought and environmentally stressed conditions where adequate grass growth or quality is negatively affected may need additional supplementation until the grass and pasture quality improve.
Considerable research has shown that adequate nutrition of the fetus at the right time during pregnancy significantly impacts overall health and immunity of the calf. This concept of “fetal programming” is becoming a major management tool in cow herd management.
During the first trimester, implantation, placental growth, organ development and initial myogenesis (the formation of muscle tissue) begins. The research suggests calves will not perform to genetic expectations if nutrients are deficient at these times.
Good Rumen Function Helps
Excell™ from Pacer Technology maintains good rumen functon by supporting the microbial populations in the digestive system of the rumen and intestine for efficient nutrient digestion and adsorption needed for lactation, body condition and animal reproduction. When rumen function is optimized, microbial protein and volatile fatty acid production can better support the major nutritional needs of the cow when she needs them for good lactation and strong estrus and breeding.
The Nutritional Program During Early Spring
Forage is the most significant part of the feeding program and greatly influences the performance parameters of the beef herd. Forage testing will take the guess work out of forage quality and a balanced supplementation program can be formulated to provide the missing nutrients needed during these demanding periods. Since early spring grass growth can be very rapid and lush, magnesium deficiencies often occur especially when the weather gets warmer and rainfall is plentiful.
Energy is probably the most important nutritional element in beef cattle production since it is the fuel for growth and development, maintenance of body condition and metabolic functions of the animal. Cows need energy for milk production, maintaining body heat in cold weather as well as rebreeding and developing the fetal calf tissues.
Protein is the second limiting nutrient in most beef cow rations and is the principal building block of most tissues. Without adequate amounts of protein in the diet, rumen function can be depressed, feed intake can drop, and overall digestive efficiency declines.
Vitamins, Minerals and Reproduction
Feeding the proper level of vitamins and minerals is essential for the growth, health and reproduction of beef cows and calves. Since vitamins and minerals are essential components for many specific metabolic functions, deficiencies can cause significant issues in growth, reproduction and health areas.
A vitamin, mineral supplementation program which provides the correct balance of nutrients with the forage program is the best bet for meeting the vitamin, mineral requirements of the cow herd.
Upgrade Your Nutritional Program with Excell™
Research shows Excell™ will help optimize rumen function and efficiency helping the cow get more nutrients out of her feed. This is especially important during times of high nutrient demand such as the last 90 days of gestation, rebreeding and lactation.
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