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Producers Need to Ensure Cows are Getting Proper Energy Requirements in Cold Weather

Mon, 18 Jan 2016 14:24:54 CST

Producers Need to Ensure Cows are Getting Proper Energy Requirements in Cold Weather

With the colder months in full swing, cattle producers will need to be ready for challenges when it comes to managing your beef cow herd. January and February often brings the most volatile extremes in terms of cold weather with extended time periods of excessively cold weather. Kansas State Research and Extension beef systems specialist Justin Waggoner talks about why cold weather can bring an increase in nutrient requirements. As spring-calving herds are approaching the third trimester or are already calving, Waggoner said that increases their nutrient requirements and additional cold stress adds another layer.

Waggoner said itís important that you understand your cowís winter tolerance. He says it relates to a benchmark called lower critical temperature. Cold stress increases maintenance and energy requirements for a cow in good condition. Waggoner said the energy density in a ration needs to be increased by one percent for each degree below the lower critical temperature. If a cow has a dry winter coat, the lower critical temperature is right around freezing at 32 degrees. Once a cow grows a sufficient winter coat, he said cows can withstand temperatures as low as 18 degrees before experiencing cold stress.

Waggoner discusses some ways producers can make sure their cows are getting the right supplementation for more energy, which is more critical than protein when it comes to avoiding cold stress. He said cold stress increases energy requirements, but it does not increase protein or mineral requirements. With most operations on a low quality forage, a dormant native grass or corn stalks, he said if producers have a feed stuff, like hay, that is higher quality than the forage base that the cows are on - to utilize that and maintain the standard level of protein supplementation.

Oklahoma cattle producers have access to the Cattle Comfort Advisory Index. Itís available through the Oklahoma Mesonet website. This advisory tool gives producers a cold index number for the current conditions, as well as a forecast. Dry and wet conditions are calculated into the index, which gives producers the opportunity to better understand how to manage your cattle herd during these cold weather conditions.

Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays featured Justin Waggoner on the Beef Buzz feature. Click or tap on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to today's Beef Buzz.

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.

Ron Hays Beef Buzzes with K-State Research beef systems specialist Justin Waggoner
right-click to download mp3


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