Spring Calving Herd
Divide the herd into groups for winter feeding
• weaned heifer calves
• first-calf heifers, second-calvers and thin mature cows
• the remainder of the dry cows which are in good body condition
• herd sires
Be sure that weaned heifer calves are on a feeding program which will enable them to be at 65 percent of their mature weight before the start of the breeding season. Rations should be balanced to achieve gains sufficient to get heifers from their current weight to that “target” weight.
Begin feeding the lowest quality forage to dry cows which are in good condition during early winter and save the best hay for calving time or for weaned calves.
Body condition is important. Plan an adequate winter program for cows to be at least body condition score 5 (carrying enough flesh to cover the ribs) before the calving and breeding season. This will help them to breed early in the spring. Thin cows should be fed to regain body condition prior to winter. Do not let cows lose weight/condition.
Order and number ear tags for next year’s calf crop this winter. It is also a good time to catch up on freeze branding and replacing lost eartags.
Fall Calving Herd
Have Breeding Soundness Evaluation (BSE) performed on bulls (even if you used them this spring).
Get breeding supplies together if using estrous synchronization and/or A.I.
The fall breeding season starts. Breeding can best be accomplished on stockpiled fescue pasture; otherwise, cows with calves should be fed 25-30 pounds of good quality hay or its equivalent. Supplement with grain, if needed, and minimize hay waste. Cows should not be allowed to lose body condition.
Observe performance of bulls during breeding season. Watch cows for return to estrus. If you see several in heat, try to determine the cause and consider changing bulls.
Consider putting down geo-textile fabric and covering with gravel in feeding areas before you begin hay feeding to minimize waste of expensive hay.
Complete soil testing pasture to check for fertility and pH.
For additional information, contact the Whitley County Cooperative Extension Service at 549-1430; e-mail DL_CES_WHITLEY@EMAIL.UKY.EDU; or visit the office located at 4275 N. Highway 25W in Goldbug.