SPRING CALVING HERD
• Divide the herd into groups for winter feeding --
-weaned heifer calves
-first-calf heifers, second-calvers and thin mature cows
-the remainder of the dry cows which are in good body condition
• Be sure that weaned heifer calves are on a feeding program which will enable them be at 65% of their mature weight before the start of the breeding season. Rations should be balanced to achieve gains sufficient to get heifers from their current weight to that “target” weight.
• Body condition is important, plan an adequate winter program for cows to be at least body condition score 5 (carrying enough flesh to cover the ribs) before the calving and breeding season. This will help them to breed early in the spring. Thin cows should be fed to regain body condition prior to winter. Don’t let cows lose weight/condition.
• Begin feeding the lowest quality forage to dry cows which are in good condition during early winter and save the best hay for calving time or for weaned calves.
• Order and number eartags for next year’s calf crop this winter. It is also a good time to catch up on freeze branding and replacing lost eartags.
FALL CALVING HERD
• Get breeding supplies together, if using estrous synchronization and/or A.I.
• Have Breeding Soundness Evaluation (BSE) performed on bulls (even if you used them this spring). Observe performance of bulls during breeding season. Watch cows for return to estrus, if you see several in heat, try to determine the cause and consider changing bulls.
• The fall breeding season starts. Breeding can best be accomplished on stockpiled fescue pasture; otherwise, cows with calves should be fed 25-30 pounds of good quality hay or its equivalent. Supplement with grain, if needed, and minimize hay waste. Cows shouldn’t be allowed to lose body condition.
• Complete soil testing pasture to check for fertility and pH.
• Consider putting down geotextile fabric and covering with gravel in feeding areas before you begin hay feeding to minimize waste of expensive hay.
Source: Dr. Roy Burris, University of Kentucky Beef Specialist