Winterizing Your Cowherd

Dr. Joe C. Paschal
Professor and Extension Livestock Specialist
AgriLife Extension
Corpus Christi, Texas

1. Palpate all cows, sell all open cows and consider selling late breeding cows that will calve outside your calving season. These calves will weigh less at weaning and will drag your cows down prior to breeding in the spring.

2. Check all cattle for broken mouths, pop-corn teeth, bad or cancerous eyes and sell them. Cattle that can’t eat or see can’t produce calves as cheaply as those that can.

3. Check for ear ticks or Gulf Coast ticks in or on ears and spray for early lice, ticks and any flies.

4. Tip horns if necessary and clip hair from ear tags (retag cows missing ear tags) and/or brands for easy reading.

5. Vaccinate all cows for leptospirosis (5-way) 30-60 days before breeding and vaccinate all cattle for vibriosis (campylobacteriosis) 2-4 weeks before breeding. Inject all cattle with vitamin A (or A-D-E), 3-5 cc’s if dry conditions or frost is expected. Consult your local veterinarian for specific recommendations for your ranch.

6. Begin supplemental feeding when pasture, cattle or weather conditions indicate. Cows dropping from a body condition score 5 to 4 will need to gain 8% of their original body weight to return to a BCS 5 prior to breeding. Since this requires about 1000 pounds of feed for a medium sized cow, it is cheaper to reduce stocking rate or begin supplemental feeding before this occurs. For every degree drop in temperature below 55F a cow’s energy requirements increase by 10%.

7. Protein supplementation (1/2 – 2 lb of 41% protein) will stimulate the animal’s appetite (30-60%) and increase the digestibility (6-12%) of poor quality forages. This will allow for a good maintenance ration of most bred cows (BCS 5 or better) until they calve and/or grass gets really short. Good protein sources include (but are not limited to) cottonseed meal, whole cottonseed, other oilseeds, range cubes, blocks, etc.

If liquid feed supplements are used, remember that they are a good source of protein (or nitrogen for making protein if they contain urea), not energy. The cattle must be on a good energy source to supply the minimum requirements. Check feeders daily and refill before they run dry. Make sure that cattle have access to good, dependable water. Never put shrunk, hungry or stressed cattle directly on liquid feed, fill them up with hay first.

8. Energy supplementation (1-2 lb) will slightly stimulate digestibility (1-3%) and intake (5-10%) of poor quality forages. If the levels of energy supplementation increase above 10-12% (2-3 lb) then forage digestibility will be depressed causing a substitution rather than a supplementary effect. Still a pound of grain contains more energy than a pound of forage or hay but it will require more grain than forage to make much improvement. In some emergency feeding situations where forage is scarce, grain will usually be a more economical source of supplementary energy than forage. Remember that travel by the cow requires 1/2 lb of energy (about 1 pound of good quality hay) for every mile she travels to feed and water during the day. So be sure to include some extra energy (but not protein) for travel costs.

9. Keep and maintain year round a good 12% calcium:12% phosphorus mineral that the cattle will and are consuming (2-3 oz/day). A good trace mineral or stock salt (in combination or separately) is also recommended. Place these in areas away from watering sources, preferably in poorly grazed areas to balance grazing pressures and encourage consumption of ungrazed forages.

10. Cattle will require a dependable supply of good quality water that contains less than 3000 ppm in total dissolved salts. Since cattle will drink 20 gallons of water or more a day, actual consumption will depend on the taste of the water, the air temperature and humidity, the cow’s physiological stage, the type of forage eaten, distance travelled to water, etc. Water sources should be checked daily.

*Additional sources of information on these tips can be gotten from your County Extension Agent, your local veterinarian, the Texas Cow-Calf Management Handbook and your County Beef Herd Health and Management Guide.

THE 365-DAY BEEF COW YEAR BY PERIODS

Period 1
Period 2
Period 3
Period 4
82 days
(postcalving)
123 days
(pregnant and
lactating)
110 days
(mid-gestation)
50 days
(precalving)

NRC REQUIREMENTS – 1100 LB BEEF COW
Periods

1 2 3 4

TDN (lbs/day) 13-15* 11-12 8.5 10

Protein (lbs/day) 2.0 1.6 .9 1.1

Dig. Protein (lbs/day) 1.2 .9 .45 .55

Calcium (grams/day) 27 24 13 15

Phosphorus (grams/day) 27 24 13 15

Vit. A. (I.U./day) 24,000 24,000 20,000 24,000

*Depends on milking ability, age and condition

A brief description of the four nutritional periods is as follows:

Period 1. Period 1 is the 82-day period after calving when the cow is lactating at her highest level while trying to maintain a high level of calf growth. In addition to this, the cow must undergo uterine involution, start recycling, and rebreed during this period. Obviously, to the beef cow this is her most important nutritional period.

Period 2. During this period, the cow should be in the early part of pregnancy while still lactating and maintaining a calf. It is also during this period that the cow should be gaining weight and laying on some energy reserve as body weight and fat to prepare for the winter months, assuming a spring calving situation.

Period 3. This is the period that follows the weaning of the calf and is referred to as mid-gestation. Basically during this period of time the beef cow must primarily maintain her developing fetus. During this period the beef cow’s nutrition needs are at the lowest level of any stage of the year.

Period 4. This period is the second most important period during the beef cow year and again is a period when many of the producers fail to feed the cows as well as they should be fed. During this period, 70 to 80 percent of the total fetal growth occurs; and in addition, the cow is preparing for lactation.

CLASSIFICATION OF SUPPLEMENTS*
TYPE OF SUPPLEMENT FEEDING COMMENTS

RATE


PROTEIN LB/DAY MOST APPROPRIATE WHEN:

Cottonseed Meal 1 – 3 1. Forage availability is high

Soybean Meal 1 – 3 2. Cows are in good body condition

Peanut Meal 1 – 3 3. Weather is normal

Guar Meal 1-3 4. Cows in late pregnancy to early lactation

Protein Blocks .5 – 2.5

Liquid Supplement .5 – 2.5

Syrup Blocks .5 – 2.0

COMBINATION MOST APPROPRIATE WHEN:

Whole Cottonseed 2 – 6 1. Forage is limited in amount

20% Protein Cubes, 10% Fiber 2 – 5 2. Cows are in poor body condition

Protein-Grain Mixes 2 – 5 3 Weather is extra wet, cold and stressful

Alfalfa Hay 2 – 10 4. Cows go into mid-lactation

ENERGY MOST APPROPRIATE WHEN:

Corn 2 or 10 1. Forage quality is high but limited in amount or in value because of moisture content

Milo 2 or 10

Wheat 2 or 8 2. Most commonly used in combination with protein supplements in mixed feeds

Oats 3 – 12

*Classification describes most commonly observed “best usage” or products but does not imply that this is “the only usage” for the various products.

SUPPLEMENT NEEDED TO PRODUCE*
11% INTAKE PROTEIN DIET
Forage lb. 41% lb. 20%

Protein Needed Needed


4 3.58 7.35

6 2.56 5.25

8 1.54 3.15

10 .51 1.05

12 – -


*Assuming 21 # Forage Intake

SUPPLEMENT NEEDED TO GET*
A 4.0% UIP LEVEL
Forage lb. 41%

IP Needed


4 3.58

6 2.56 DIP Limiting

8 1.85

10 1.27

12 .73 UIP Limiting

14 .15


*Assumes 21 # forage intake UIP 27.5% of IP

41% CSM with 45% escape or

20.5% UIP, DMB

Dennis B. Herd, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, Nutritionist, October 1991.

SALT CONTROLLED RATIONS
Ratio Protein

1. 200# Gr. Milo 3-1 1.5%

100# C.S. Meal

100# Salt (High Energy Supplement)

2. 100# Gr. Milo 3-1 23%

200# C.S. Meal

100# Salt

3. 100# Gr. Milo 3-1 17%

100# C.S. Meal

100# Dehy. Alfalfa

100# Salt

4. 200# Gr. Milo 4-1 16%

100# C.S. Meal

100# Dehy. Alfalfa (Bull Ration)

100# Salt

5. 200# Gr. Milo 4-1 20%

200# C.S. Meal

100# Salt (Cow-Calf Ration)

6. 160# Gr. Milo 3-1 24%

120# C.S. Meal

12# Urea

12# Polyphos

96# Salt

7. 200# Cottonseed Meal 2-1 27%

100# Salt

8. 300# Cottonseed Meal 3-1 31%

100# Salt (High Protein Supplement)

9. 100# Cottonseed Meal 5-1 13.5%

400# Gr. Milo or more

100# Salt (Yearling Ration)

10. 100# Milo 2-1 17%

100# C.S. Meal

100# Salt (Average Quality Roughage)

11. 300# Milo 5-1 19%

200# C.S. Meal

100# Salt (Low Quality Roughage)

*Add Vitamin A Supplement to equal 15,000 I.U. lb if needed (except No. 9).

*Add Bone Meal or Dicalcium Phosphate 100# per ton, more or less.

*Maximum salt tolerance 3/4 to 1 lb per day for mature cows.

TABLE 1. MINERAL SUPPLEMENT COMPOSITION FOR BEEF COWS WITH VARYING FORAGE CONDITIONS

Mineral High QualitySummer Pastureor Hay, Well

Fertilized

+

Trace Mineral

Salt

Native Pasture Lower Quality Pasture or Hay+

12:12:5*

Mineral

Pasture or Hayfrom high phosphatelow pH & Calcium soil

+

15:5:5

Mineral

Grass TetanypreventionWinter

Pastures

+

14:3:11

Mineral

Intake, oz 1 2-4 2-4 6
Calcium, %Phosphorus, %Potassium, %

Magnesium, %

Salt, %

Sulfur, %

Iron, %

Manganese, %

Zinc, %

Copper, %

Iodine, %

Selenium, %

Cobalt, %

-

90+

-

.8

.8

1.8

.5

.02

.01

.004

1212-

4-6

15-30

0-3

.2

.3

.55

.12 — (.35)**

.005

.0025

.002

12-155-

5

15-30

0-3

.2

.3

.55

.12

.005

.0025

.002

12-153-

10-12

15-30

0-3

.15

.20

.35

.09

.0030

.0015

.0015

* Supplement most frequently used.

TABLE 2. ASSUMED FORAGE COMPOSITION FOR ABOVE RECOMMENDATIONS

Calcium, %Phosphorus, %Potassium, %

Magnesium, %

Salt, %

Sulfur, %

Iron, PPM

Manganese, PPM

Zinc, PPM

Copper, PPM

Iodine, PPM

Selenium, PPM

Cobalt, PPM

.5.31.8

.25

-

.25

100

85

30

8

.1

.1

.1

.3 – .6.05 – .2.9 – 2.0

.15

-

.16 — (.4)**

100

85

30

8

.1

.1

.1

.3.251.8

.14

-

.18

100

85

30

8

.1

.1

.1

.3.43.5

.15

-

.25

100

85

30

8

.1

.1

.

 

**When forage sulfur = .16%, supplement was made to contain .12% copper; if sulfur – .4%, then copper = 0.35%.

Prepared by D. B. Herd, Extension Beef Cattle Nutritionist,

Texas Agricultural Extension Service, October 1993.

TABLE 3. DIET FORMULATION GUIDELINES

Required in Diet Common Formulation
Calcium, %Phosphorus, %Magnesium, %

Potassium, %

Sodium, %

Chlorine, %

Sulfur, %

Iron, PPM

Manganese, PPM

Zinc, PPM

Copper, PPM

Iodine, PPM

Selenium, PPM

Cobalt, PPM

Molybdenum, PPM

1.5 X P0.18 – 0.30.1 – 0.2

.8

.1 – .18

.2 – 25

0.1 – 0.15

50

40

40

8 – 40

.5

.2

.1

?

1.6 X P.2 – .35.15 – .3

.8

.12 – .2

.3

.18 – .22

100

80

85

10 – 40*

.5

.2 – .3

.2 – .3

-

* Only formulate to 25 to 40 PPM of copper when molybdenum 2-3 PPM, sulfur >.3%, iron>300 PPM in the diet or some combination exists. Include iron and sulfur from water. Remember that high copper levels are toxic to sheep. Some breeds of cattle require more than others.

TABLE 4. VARIATION IN FORAGE COMPOSITION

Improved Bermuda Forage Native Forage
Mean CommonlyObserved Mean CommonlyObserved
Calcium, %Phosphorus, %Magnesium, %

Potassium, %

Sodium, %

Chlorine, %

Sulfur, %

Iron, PPM

Manganese, PPM

Zinc, PPM

Copper, PPM

Iodine, PPM

Selenium, PPM

Cobalt, PPM

Molybdenum, PPM

.43.21.17

1.59

-

.1 – 1.0

.34

115

86

23

6.4

?

?

?

?

.28 – .58.15 – .27.12 – .22

1.13 – 1.95

0.02 – 0.05

.2 – .6

.22 – .46

31 – 199

45 – 137

15 – 31

4 – 9

?

?

?

?

.48.10.12

.91

-

.1 – 1.0

.13

205

50

21

5

?

?

?

?

.29 – .67.04 – .16.07 – .17

.28 – 1.54

0.02 – 0.05

.2 – .6

.07 – .19

43 – 367

25 – 75

13 – 29

3 – 7

?

?

?

 

SUPPLEMENTAL RATIONS FOR BEEF COWS
DRY PREGNANT 1000 LB COWS OF AVERAGE CONDITION AND MILK PRODUCTION
Requirements: 18.1 lbs dry matter, 48.8% TDN, 7.0% crude protein, .18% calcium, .18% phosphorus)

Adequate Rainfall and aGood Forage or Hay Supply Little or no Rainfall and aLow Forage or Hay Supply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Dormant Native Pasture (5% CP, 49% TDN) 18 18 10 10 10
Native Pasture or Coastal Hay (8% CP, 57% TDN) 16 10 10 6
Coastal or Sorghum Hay (6% CP, 46% TDN) 18
Sorghum Stubble (5% CP, 54% TDN) 15
Corn or Milo (10% CP, 85% TDN) 5
Cottonseed Meal (41% CP, 80% TDN) 1 1.5 1
Whole Cottonseed (20% CP, 96% TDN) 1 4
*Range or Breeder Cube (20% CP, 80% TDN) 2 1.5
12% Ca:12% P Mineral + + + + + + + + +

Example: Ration #1 includes 18 lbs of dormant native pasture, 1 lb of cottonseed meal plus a good 12% calcium:12% phosphorus mineral

*Cube should not contain more than 1/3 of the total protein from nonprotein nitrogen sources if grass or hay is in short supply (ex: not more than 7% of a 20% cube).

SUPPLEMENTAL RATIONS FOR BEEF COWS
LACTATING 1000 LB COWS OF AVERAGE CONDITION AND MILK PRODUCTION
(Requirements: 20.2 lbs dry matter, 56.6% TDN, 9.6% crude protein, .28% calcium, .22% phosphorus)

Adequate Rainfall and aGood Forage or Hay Supply Little or no Rainfall and aLow Forage or Hay Supply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Dormant Native Pasture (5% CP, 49% TDN) 18 17 10 10 10
Native Pasture or Coastal Hay (8% CP, 57% TDN) 16 10 10 8
Coastal or Sorghum Hay (6% CP, 46% TDN) 18
Sorghum Stubble (5% CP, 54% TDN) 15
Corn or Milo (10% CP, 85% TDN) 2 2 2 2 5 2
Cottonseed Meal (41% CP, 80% TDN) 2 1 2 3 3 2
Whole Cottonseed (20% CP, 96% TDN) 6
*Range or Breeder Cube (20% CP, 80% TDN) 5 3
12% Ca:12% P Mineral + + + + + + + + +

Example: Ration #1 includes 18 lbs of native pasture, 2 lbs of corn or milo, and 2 lbs of cottonseed meal plus a good 12% calcium:12% phosphorus mineral.

*Cube should not contain more than 1/6 of the total protein from nonprotein nitrogen sources if grass or hay is in short supply (ex: not more than 3% of a 20% cube).

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