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Supplementing Rations to Beat Winter Forage Challenges

25 January 2013

CANADA – Hands on assessment of Cow body condition and supplementing feed rations with 5-lbs of grain are ways to build up thin cows this winter, according to beef and forage specialist, Barry Yaremico.

Thin cows have been identified as a problem on cow/calf operations this winter due to forage availability and a harsh December. Low forage quality mean protein levels are 20-25 per cent down following a late hay cut.

A proper hands on assessment of animals is required, ‘they might look healthy but under a thick winter coat many cows are thinner than normal,” Barry Yaremico told the Alberta Ag-info centre.

“In some cases cattle will need to be brought inside,” added Mr Yaremico. Keeping cows inside with bedding and shelter can reduce maintenance energy requirements by 25 per cent, he added.

Supplementing forage was highlighted as another way to build cows back to proper condition. Adding 5-pounds of grain to feed rations may be required, advised Mr Yaremico.

“Cow strength is vital coming into calving and although extra feed costs may be inevitable a healthy cow will provide the calf with proper colostrum to aid the calf against diseases and infections.”

Swath grazers were warned about recent snow falls freezing round forage and limiting cattle access. If cow heads are down and moving in a bobbing motion then they are feeding, said Mr Yaremico.

However, if upon inspection cows heads and lips are scratched and their bodies feel thin, it might be time to take them home.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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