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Ensuring Consistent Body Condition of Mama Cows Proves Profitable, Selk Says

Tue, 01 Apr 2014 10:58:37 CDT

Ensuring Consistent Body Condition of Mama Cows Proves Profitable, Selk Says

Neglecting the nutrition of mama cows after calving is a false economy, says Oklahoma State University Extension beef cow specialist Glenn Selk. In today's Beef Buzz, he says providing proper nutrition can make a tremendous difference in rebreeding rates, even though it may not always be convenient to do so.

"After a long, hard winter we're beginning to run short of hay supplies. In many cases the pastures that the cows have been grazing have been grazed down to where there's very little left. The quality of the warm season grasses that they are on, such as native or bermuda grass pastures, at this time of the year is extremely low. And the cows just can't get much energy or, certainly, protein out of those grasses."

He said ranchers may also be a little tired after feeding cattle all winter, but it pays to put out the extra effort to continue.

"This is a critical time from the standpoint of the physiology of these cows. We have to keep them in good body condition through the calving process and those 60 to 90 days between calving and the start of the breeding season."

Selk said that research done at Oklahoma State University indicates that cows who are fed sufficiently to maintain a body condition of "5" throughout the winter, the calving season and on into the breeding season bred at a rate of 94 percent. Those cows allowed to drop one full point on the body condition index during the 60 to 90 days after calving had a breeding rate of only 73 percent.

"So that tells me that even though hay may be short, we have to purchase some. The energy-protein supplements we have to go to the store and buy here at the last minute to get some supplement into those cows, again, may be expensive, but it's very, very important that we continue those cows on a solid plan of nutrition to where they don't lose body condition and we get that good breed up as we go through breeding season.

"When it comes time to sell those cows the following fall, having that extra 21 percent extra available for sale should more than cover the price of the hay and the supplement that we're going to have to purchase to make sure those cows maintain body condition."

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.


Glenn Selk talks about the profitability of maintaining the constant body condition of mama cows.
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