Beef Herd Timely Tips
Dr. Roy Burris, Beef Extension Professor, University of Kentucky
Spring-Calving Cow Herd
Fescue pastures don’t generally produce much this month, however rain in July has given us some forage going into the usually dry months. Keep rotating pastures to permit calves to continue gaining weight. Keep minerals available at all times.
Repair and improve corrals for fall working and weaning. Consider having an area to wean calves and retain ownership for postweaning feeding rather than selling “green”, lightweight calves. Plan to participate in CPH-45 feeder calf sales in your area.
Bulls should have been removed from the cow herd by now! They should be pastured away from the cow herd with a good fence and allowed to regain lost weight and condition. It is a good time to evaluate physical condition, especially feet and legs. Bulls can be given medical attention and still have plenty of time to recover, e.g., corns, abscesses, split hooves, etc. Don’t keep trying to get open spring cows bred – move them to fall calving or sell them when they wean this year’s calf.
Fall-Calving Cow Herd
Prepare for the fall-calving season (usually September). Get ready, be sure you have the following: record book, eartags for identification, iodine solution for newborn calf’s navel, calf puller and castration equipment
Dry cows should be moved to better pastures as calving time approaches. Cows should start calving next month. Yearling heifers may begin “headstart” calving later this month. Plan to move cows to stockpiled fescue for the breeding season, so it will soon be time to apply nitrogen fertilizer.
Avoid working cattle when temperatures are extremely high – especially those grazing high-endophyte fescue. If cattle must be handled, do so in the early morning.
Do not give up on fly control in late summer, especially if fly numbers are greater than about 50 flies per animal. You can use a different “type” of spray or pour-on to kill any resistant flies at the end of fly season.
Provide shade and water! Cattle will need shade during the hot part of the day. Check water supply frequently – as much as 20 gallons may be required by high producing cows in very hot weather.
Keep a good mineral mix available at all times. The UK Beef IRM Basic Cow-Calf mineral is a good choice.
Cattle may also be more prone to eat poisonous plants during periods of extreme temperature stress. They will stay in “wooded” areas and browse on plants that they would not normally consume. Consider putting a roll of hay in these areas and/or spraying plants like purple (perilla) mint which can be toxic.
Take soil samples to determine pasture fertility needs. Fertilize as needed, this fall.
Select pastures for stockpiling. Remove cattle and apply nitrogen when moisture conditions are favorable. Stockpiled fescues can be especially beneficial for fall-calving cows after calving.
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