Winter Conditions and Increasing Nutrient Demand in Late Gestation

Sponsored by: CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements

Be Sure to Monitor Body Condition Score

Many parts of the country are experiencing cold winter conditions with some areas receiving snow and the coldest temperature of the year. It takes more time and effort to get regular chores completed. In addition, we need to push snow, pull out stuck vehicles, break ice and thaw frozen water pipes. When you consider the extra energy that humans need, it helps put our cattle’s nutrient requirements into prospective.

Most spring calving cows are in their third trimester of pregnancy and nutrient demands of the rapidly developing unborn calf are increasing dramatically. At the same time, winter weather conditions are increasing maintenance requirements of the cow. The cow’s plane of nutrition for the next 60-90 days will have both short and long term impact on the cow and the unborn calf. Managing body conditions should be one of your highest priorities during this time of year.

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More Energy Produced with Supplemental Nutrition - Improved Forage Utilization

Feeding the Rumen – Supporting the Cow and Calf

Optimizing rumen fiber digestion is the hitch pin for getting the most out of your forage and supporting profitability. Delivering a combination of protein and rumen friendly carbohydrates provide the rumen fiber digesting bacteria, the little extra they need for optimum fiber digestibility. This improved digestibility allows for more forage consumption when more calories are needed, such as winter conditions. Lower to average quality hay will be short of protein and rapidly digestible carbohydrates, which can be provided by self-fed supplements.  

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Providing Vital Trace Mineral and Vitamin - Cow and Calf Health

The developing calf heavily draws from maternal sources of trace minerals and vitamins during the third trimester. The trace minerals are critical for immune function, growth and development. Copper is critical for maintaining body temperature of the new born calf. Cold sensitive calves are a sign of poor copper status. Calves are born with internal brown fat that can be used as an energy source to maintain body temperature in the first few days of life. However, a copper containing enzyme is required to utilize this brown fat.

The transfer of trace minerals to the calf during late pregnancy will provide most of the trace mineral needs to the calf for the next 6-9 months. Grass and milk are poor trace mineral sources and until the calf is consuming fortified feed, they are using their maternal reserves. 

Long Term Benefit to Supplemental Nutrition - Reproductive Performance

Body condition at calving and mineral status of brood cows are the main factors that influence future reproductive success. Thin cows do not breed back as quickly as cows in an ideal Body Condition Score (BCS) of 5 to 6. A risk you need to avoid is accepting the conditions on your operation as “normal” and not critically evaluating your cows.

The newly updated CRYSTALYX® Beef Cow Body Condition App is a great resource for evaluating reference photos to determine what a BCS 4 looks like in addition to having a pictorial BCS record for individual cows. Various BCS’s are described in both text descriptions and with reference pictures. Tools like these are invaluable to avoid the risk of accepting BCS cows of 4 as normal when a BCS 5 can increase your reproductive performance.

CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements offers a wide range of supplements to match and supplement a variety of forage qualities, feeding programs and nutrient demands of the cattle being supplemented. As we get closer to calving season, take time to critically evaluate the BCS of your cattle. It is easier to keep them in condition now as compared to trying to correct thin cows after they calve.