Nutrient and management requirements of the cow increase dramatically following calving. A cow nursing a calf will need approximately 100 percent more TDN during the 60 days following calving to meet her milk production requirements and to rebreed on schedule. Because of that extra need keep feeding her some grain for a couple of months after calving.
Weaned replacement heifers must receive adequate nutrition and management if they are to breed on schedule and calve as two year olds. Feed provided to weaned replacement heifers must be of greater protein and energy content than that required by the mature cows.
Bred yearling heifers require more total protein and energy than weaned replacement heifers, but they can utilize a lower quality feed due to increased size of their digestive systems. Feeding the bred yearling heifer is especially critical before and after calving. Before calving, the heifer has a nutrient demand for her own growth as well as for development of the unborn calf. Following calving, the young cow must have adequate feed to produce milk, continue to grow and rebreed on schedule. Frequent observation as calving approaches is important with the first calf heifer to eliminate calf losses.
Calves that are being backgrounded have a higher quality feed requirement than older cattle in the cow herd. These calves should be separated and fed the highest quality feed available. It is very important that they gain well to make you a profit.
Herd bulls are the smallest group in the commercial cow-calf herd, but are just as important as any other group. Depending on the condition, a mature bull's nutrient requirements are basically for maintenance. Bulls do require frequent observation but should be separated from the herd in order to maintain a definite breeding at calving season. For now, medium quality hay will take care of them but about a month before turn out giving them a little grain can get them more ready for a busy breeding season. As you can see from these notes, all of the beef animals on your farm are different in their feed needs. Because of that you need to separate the cattle into groups by their needs and feed them differently. This will benefit the cattle and save you money too.
For more beef cattle production information, contact Dan Grigson at the Lincoln County Extension Office in Stanford at 365-2447.