Is it Time to Think About Re-breeding and Fetal Programing?
Calving has begun in many areas and the focus is on calf survival and nutrition of the cow, but nutritional strategies for re-breeding and fetal development should be started as well.
Lactation, re-breeding and development of fetal tissues
Since calving and re-breeding occur during a short 90-day period, cow nutrition needs to be addressed early to maintain adequate body condition, good milk production and strong cycling. Feeding the cow to support not only her body condition for rebreeding but addressing the nutrient needs of the fetal during the first trimester of gestation is critical to optimum calf development.
The last 60 to 90 days before calving is the most critical time in the cow’s reproductive cycle since this period sets the stage for reproductive success or failure in the months that follow.
The nutrient needs of the cow are greatly increased during these last 90 days since the majority of fetal calf growth occurs during this time. In addition, the cow’s mammary system is developing in preparation for colostrum formation and milk production.
While the cow is preparing for the calves’ birth, she must also prepare for her next reproductive cycle following calving. The level of nutrition during the pre-calving period reflects the days to conception based on the condition of the cow and her reproductive hormone production and follicular development. Research suggests that these reproductive processes rely on the cow’s nutritional reserves as well as specific levels of nutrients during the pre-calving period.
Good Rumen Function Helps
RumaCell from Pacer Technology supports 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 in late gestation when she needs them for good lactation and strong estrus and breeding.
Nutrient Intake During Gestation and Fetal Programming
Considerable research has shown that the level of nutrition the cow receives during each trimester of gestation can “program” the calf’s future growth, health and performance. This research has shown that adequate nutrition of the fetus at the right time during pregnancy significantly impacts feedlot performance and overall health and immunity of the calf. This concept of “fetal programming” is becoming a major management tool in cow herd management.
Cattle producers are selecting genetics for improved growth, efficiency, carcass quality and reproductive traits and adequate nutrition at the right time is important for the developing calf for optimum expression of genetic potential.
The last trimester has traditionally been thought to be the most nutritional demanding for the cow since the calf is developing rapidly. New research is now showing that the fetal calf has specific nutritional needs during the first and second trimesters that significantly affect performance and health later in life. During the first trimester, implantation, placental growth, organ development and initial myogenesis (the formation of muscle tissue) begins. During the second trimester, myogenesis increases and fat tissue begins development. The research suggests calves will not perform to genetic expectations if nutrients are deficient at these times.
The Nutritional Program
The nutritional quality of feed and forage greatly influences the performance parameters of the beef herd. Following a good nutritional program that meets the requirements of each phase of production is very important. Since the nutritional value of the forages we feed can be variable and subject to environmental and management differences, a good forage testing program can take the guess work out of the nutrition provided in the forage and a supplementation program formulated to provide the missing nutrients needed during these demanding periods.
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.
Deficient energy intake during pregnancy can result in, lowered birth weights, higher death rates in newborn calves, lower milk production, lower weaning weights, increased days to first heat and reduced conception rates.
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. Reduced feed intake results in both a protein and energy deficiency resulting in reduced overall nutrient levels available for lactation, reproduction and fetal calf development.
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.
The most important source of certain vitamins and most minerals for beef cows comes from the pasture and forages. However, these nutrient levels are variable and are influenced by the concentration and availability in the soil, periodic forage testing should be done to avoid deficiencies.
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 RumaCell
Research shows RumaCell 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.