K-State's Sandy Johnson: Adapting to Forage Conditions to Maximize Rebreeding RatesMon, 19 May 2014 20:18:40 CDT
Spring breeding season is upon us and properly managing nutrition for mama cows is very important. Sandy Johnson, a beef cattle specialist at the Kansas State University, says with drought-damaged pastures producers need to make sure they get the proper energy and nutrition to their cow herds to maximize re-breeding potential.
"The cow is going to peak her lactation eight to nine weeks after calving and generally we're starting our breeding season within about 80 days of when our first cow calves. To stay on that same schedule, we reach a real high nutritional peak for the cow for lactation and then very soon thereafter we want her to rebreed. And we know that for her to rebreed she has to be on a positive energy balance."
Johnson said inadequate forage may not provide all the nutrition the cow needs to move from the lactation phase into the rebreeding phase and the solution could be as simple as delaying rebreeding. Delaying rebreeding for 21 days might be all the cow would need, but doing so is not without its complications when it comes to maintaining a tight calving season or pasture turnout schedules.
"From a practical standpoint, producers aren't going to want to delay more than a week to 10 days and whether or not that makes enough difference in your pasture is hard to tell. Obviously cows that are in a better body condition at this point and going forward will be much more likely to adapt to whatever the forage condition is. But, if they're thin or young, that issue can be compounded with return to cyclicity."
What it all boils down to, Johnson said, is that if your pastures aren't up to par, producers might want to rethink their breeding schedules.
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