Pasture Must Suit the Cow, Expert Advises

CANADA – Mature cows are 400 pounds heavier than thirty years ago, which means sufficient forage is vital for bigger cows, says an Alberta Beef specialist.
calendar icon 14 January 2014
clock icon 1 minute read

Heavy cows over 1,400 pounds can be profitable and smaller cows can eat as much as bigger cattle, says Karen Schmid, production specialist at Albert Beef Producers.

Her message is that cow size is complex and, in the absence of simplicity, one key rule is to have good pasture and forage supplies.

In an interview with Genome Alberta Mrs Schmid said: “Heavy-milking beef cows that weigh in over 1,400 lbs are likely to be profitable when there’s plenty of forage and calves are sold once weaned. But producers should steer away from these cows if they don’t have abundant forage.”

“At the other end of the scale, there are low-milking cows that don’t hit 1,100 lbs. Such animals aren’t likely to be as profitable when forage is plentiful. On the other hand, they are the only way to go when hay and pasture supplies are thin.”

She said that the dearth of research into pasture efficiency is being improved.

“The Alberta Beef Producers(ABP) is funding a project on residual feed intake in replacement heifers, both in pasture and while confined,” said Mrs Schmid.

“And by 2016, producers will have a better idea of what makes a feed efficient, fertile cowherd, thanks to research by the ABP and the 2nd Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster.”


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