Body Score and Supplementation the Key for Successful Calving

US – Kansas State Veterinarian, Bob Larson, offers guidance on how to make sure mature cows are receiving the right quantity of feed this winter after a drought harvest.
calendar icon 15 February 2013
clock icon 2 minute read

Kansas producers are buying in distillers’ grains, corn gluten, wheat middlings, soy products and corn at low levels. Industrial by-products are bought in to assist feed stores of low protein, low digestibility feed.

The needs of a mature cow alter according to age, gestation stage and lactation point.

Heifers still need to develop muscle and bone and require more feed than mature cows. Bob Larson advises that the difference is addressed to ensure heifers progress and cows don’t get overfed.

When cows mature, early to mid-gestation is a period when the cow requires less feed. As gestation develops, the energy and protein demands of the cow rise and peak at heavy lactation after calving, says Mr Larson.

When talking about cows’ estimated forage we refer to the amount of hay or standing dormant forage is required, adds Mr Larson.

“We start with an estimate of around 2 per cent. I expect cows to eat between 1.5 and 2.5 per cent of their body weight. If a cow is 1000lbs then I would expect it to eat between 15 and 25 pounds of forage.”

Linking reproductive efficiency and body condition is important and works on a body score condition of nine points. When entering gestation a body score of 5 is necessary, recommends Mr Larson.

“Remember that reproduction is viewed as a luxury by the cow, so a thin cow will not easily come into cycling and be ready to have another calf,” says Mr Larson.

“A pregnant cow with a body score of five will resume cycling about 50 days after calving which meets goals in most herds. A thinner cow with a body conditions score of four will probably require 70 days or more to reach cycling.”

Supplements depend on local sourcing availability and the quality of forage managed in the summer, Mr Larson concluded.

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