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Feeding and Management of the Cow-Calf Herd

Feeding and Management of the Cow-Calf Herd

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Feeding and Management of the Cow-Calf Herd

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  1. Feeding and Management of the Cow-Calf Herd Unit 15

  2. Kinds of Feed • Cow-calf feeding programs are based on the use of roughages • Typical roughages used are • Pasture • Hay • Silage • Straw • Corncobs • Other crop residues • Roughages provide the cheapest source of energy for the cow and calf.

  3. Forages • Graze as much as possible. • If weather does not permit year round grazing then forage should be harvested and stored for later use. • Downfall: grazing only recovers 15-30% of what is produced.

  4. Pasture & Hay • Proper management increases the yield. • Soil should be tested and fertilized • Use rotational grazing to increase carrying capacity.

  5. Crop Residues • Helps reduce feed costs • In Northern areas 2 acres of cornstalks will carry a pregnant cow 80-100 days • Heavy snows will reduce the carrying capacity of cornstalk fields.

  6. Feeding Requirements

  7. Feeding Dry Pregnant Cows • Feed enough to keep them in good flesh from fall to spring calving • Cows of normal weight should not loose less than 10% of their body weight • Thin cows should be fed enough to gain some weight during winter

  8. Overfeeding • Should be avoided. • Results in • Higher cost • Trouble calving • Less milk flow • Higher calf losses

  9. Feeding Young Cows and Heifers • Require more feed because they are still growing • The amount of feed received is more important than the kind of feed.

  10. Energy Needs • Vary according to • Size • Condition • Age • Weather • During cold weather increase feed or energy intake by 1% for each degree of cold stress.

  11. Last 30-45 Days of Pregnancy • Generally need a 10-15% increase in protien • Especially so if hay is being fed • Can be achieved with an extra 2 pound/hd of high quality hay or additional protien supplements

  12. Minerals • Should be fed free choice • Mineral mixes should include • Calcium • Phosphorus • Salt • Any trace minerals that are known to be deficient • If grass tetany is a problem then magnesium oxide should be included in the mix • A good mixture to use is one part trace mineral salt and one part dicalcium phosphate

  13. Protien • Blocks, lick tubs and cubes are the most convenient ways to feed • Care should be taken to prevent overeating • Overeating can be partially controlled by feeding plenty of roughage and supplying plenty of fresh water

  14. Protein Supplements

  15. Vitamin A • Only needed when cattle are fed poor quality roughage • If the cow has been on good summer pasture enough Vitamin A will be stored in the body to get the animal through several months

  16. Lactation Rations • Depends on how much the milk cow produces • Heavier milk producers have higher requirements than average or low milk producers • Protein requirements for lactation are 160-268% greater than for dry cows • Energy 36-38% • Calcium and phosphorous 100-250% • Vitamin A 18-88% • High quality pasture can usually meet lactation needs

  17. Lactation Rations • Salt and minerals should be provided free choice • If the roughage is limited or poor quality some grain should be fed

  18. Lactation Rations for 1st Calf Heifers • Require more feed • Heifers are still growing and developing • They need to regain weight lost from calving & produce milk for their calf • Heifers also need to be in good condition for rebreeding.

  19. Creep Feeding

  20. Creep Feeding Calves • A way of providing calves with extra feed • May be grain, commercial creep feed mix, or roughage • Fed in a feeder that cows can not get into

  21. Advantages of Creep Feeding • Produces heavier calves at weaning (30-70 lbs) • Produces higher grade and more finish at weaning • Calves go on feedlot rations better at weaning • Creates less feedlot stress • Allows cows and calves to stay on poorer quality pasture for a longer time

  22. Good Reasons to Creep Feed • Calves are to be sold at weaning • Calves are to be fed out on high-energy rations • Cows are milking poorly • Calves are from 1st calf heifers • Calves were born late in the season • Calves have above average inherited growth potential • Calves were born in the fall • Calves are to be weaned early (45-90 days) • Calf-feed price ratio is favorable • Pastures become dry in late summer • Cows and calves are kept in confinement

  23. Disadvantages of Creep Feeding • Calves are well fed after weaning, • the weight advantage from creep feeding is lost • When production testing, it is harder to detect differences in inherited gaining ability • Replacement heifers become to fat • Non-creep-fed calves usually make faster and more economical gains after weaning compared to calves that were creep fed before weaning

  24. Reasons Not To Feed Creep • Calves are to be fed through the winter on roughage • Cows are above average milk producers • The calf-feed ratio is poor • Calves are on good pasture • Heifers are to be kept for replacements • The milk production of the dam is to be measured

  25. Growing Rations

  26. Growing Replacement Heifers • British breeds should gain 1.0-1.25 pound/day from weaning to breeding • Larger breeds should gain 1.25-1.75 pound/day • Heifers should reach puberty at 12-14 months • Generally heifers reach puberty when they have attained 65% of their mature weight • English breeds- 550-625 lbs • Larger breeds- 675-750 lbs • Heifers need to be bred according to weight and not age!

  27. Feed For Growing Replacement Heifers • Must be palatable • In areas of cold weather nutrient needs increase 1% for each degree of temperature below freezing • Feed must be increased as heifers grow • Vitamins and minerals should be fed free choice

  28. Feeding Bulls

  29. Growing Young Bulls • Wean at 6-8 months of age • Feed high energy rations for about 5 months • Avoid fattening • Allow full feed until spring then put on pasture to complete growth. • Bulls will continue to grow slowly until about 4 years of age

  30. Feeds • Hay • Grain • Amount depends on type and quality • Minerals free choice • Feed Vitamin A if ration is mostly corn silage or limited hay • May be self fed or hand fed • When self feeding use plenty of roughage to keep bulls from getting to fat or going off their feed.

  31. Rate of Growth & Needs • Yearling bulls should be fed to gain 1.5-2 lbs/day • 2-4 yr old bulls need more energy and protein in the winter than cows and should be fed accordingly • Mature bulls in good condition may be fed the same as the cow herd

  32. After the Breeding Season • Loose weight • Must be fed to regain that weight • Give additional feed 6-8 weeks before the start of the next breeding season • Bulls that are too fat or too thin have poor fertility • They should be in medium flesh and have plenty of exercise

  33. After the Breeding Season • Keep bulls separate from cows • If no place to keep bulls it is safe to run them with steers

  34. Before the Breeding Season • If necessary trim hoofs several weeks before breeding season begins • Test semen for fertility and disease

  35. Management of the Herd During Breeding Season

  36. Goal • 100% calf crop • Observe the herd closely • Check for injured or diseased cows or bulls • Watch to ensure bulls are servicing cows

  37. Number of Bulls to Run • Young bulls can easily service 20-25 cows • Mature bulls • Estrus-synchronized cows-25 • Non synchronized cows- 35-40 • Range conditions • 4 bulls per 100 cows • I have 300 cows. How many bulls do I need? • If a high number of cows remain inbred then the bull should be replaced.

  38. Breeding • No more than 60 days to maintain a short calving season (40-60 days) • Begin breeding 20-25 days after half the calves are born • This allows for a 2nd and even third heat cycle for cows that do not settle the first time. • Breed yearling heifers 20 days before older cows

  39. Conception Rates • Higher for cows that are gaining weight before and during the breeding season • Cows that are too fat or too thin are poor breeders • Pregnancy check 60-90 days after breeding • Sell any open cows • Conception Rates can be lowered by • Hot weather • Injuries

  40. Artificial Insemination (AI) • Placing the sperm in the female reproductive tract by other than natural means • Breeder uses an inseminating tube to deposit sperm into the cervix and uterus of the cow

  41. Disadvantages of AIing • Need a trained inseminator • Requires more time and supervision of the herd • Sterile equipment • Special handling facilities

  42. Breeding Heifers

  43. Size • Most important when breeding yearling heifers • Should weigh 550-750 pounds • Weight should be from growth, not fattening

  44. Age • Goal is to breed the heifer so she calves at 2 years of age • When achieved the result is 1 more calf produced during a cow’s lifetime

  45. 2 year old Calving • Lowers production cost • Keeps a higher percent of cows in the herd in production • Fewer replacement heifers are needed each year to maintain a stable herd size

  46. Conception Rates for Heifers • Lower for yearling heifers than older cows • Longer calving season • Possibly need more help in calving

  47. Breeding Heifers • Breed to calve 20-30 days before older cows • Require more feed and should be kept separate from older cows • Breed for 40-60 days • Pregnancy check 60-90 days later • Sell any heifers that are not pregnant

  48. Calving

  49. After the Calf is Born • Make sure it breathes • May be necessary to clean the mucus from the mouth and nose • Calf should nurse shortly after birth • The cows first milk, called colostrums, is very important as it contains nutrients, such as Vitamins A & E, and antibodies the calf needs • Cow should expel the afterbirth within 12-24 hours after giving birth • Keep cows with calves separate from cows that haven’t calved • Identify the calf with an ear tag or tattoo • Record the calf’s birth weight, calving problems and birth date for performance records

  50. Castration and Dehorning