Spring-Calving Cow Herd
• Cows should be on good pasture with clover and preferably low endophyte levels in fescue for the spring breeding season. Keep pastures vegetative by clipping or making hay. They should have abundant shade and water. Our goal is to have cows become pregnant before July when temperatures and heat stress can ruin the “spring” breeding season.
• Observe the cows and bulls as the breeding season continues. Watch bulls for injury or lameness and change bulls if a high percentage of cows are returning to heat. Record cow breeding dates to determine next year’s calving dates and keep records of cows and bulls in each breeding group.
• Keep a good pasture mineral mix, which contains adequate levels of phosphorus, vitamin A, selenium and copper, available at all times.
• Consider a special area for creep grazing calves, or practice “forward grazing” this summer, allowing calves to graze fresh pasture ahead of the cows. This can be accomplished by raising an electric wire or building a creep gate.
• Pregnancy test cows if not done previously.
• Cull cows at weaning time -Smooth-mouthed cows -Cows weaning light weight and/or poor-quality calves -Open cows -“Problem cows” with bad feet, teats, udders, etc.
• Select replacement heifers on the basis of:
-dam and sire records
-Select more than needed to allow for culling after a short breeding season
• Finish harvesting excess pasture as hay soon! It should be cut before it becomes too mature. Be sure and replenish your reserves. Try to put up more than you think you will need in case of a late summer drought.
• Pasture should supply adequate energy, protein and vitamins at this time. However, be prepared for drought situations. Don’t overgraze pastures so that recovery time will be faster. Overgrazed pastures will recover very slowly during July/August.
• Keep pastures small for rotational grazing so that nutritive quality can be maintained. They should be small enough so cattle do not graze longer than a week. As the season progresses, you need several paddocks to give each properly stocked pasture about 4 weeks’ rest.
• Maintain a clean water supply and check it routinely. Water is extremely important in hot weather.
• Control flies. Consider changing insecticides and/or methods of control this year, because insecticide resistant flies may have developed if you have used the same chemical year after year. Consider pour-on and sprays that allow you to put cattle in the corral or through the chute with little stress on them. It will make subsequent trips through the “chute” less stressful.
• Prevent/Control pinkeye -consider vaccinating, -control flies, -clip tall, mature grass, -treat problems quickly.
• Clip grazed-over pastures for weed control and so that seed heads do not irritate eyes. Pastures should be kept in a vegetative state for best quality.
For more information contact the Laurel County Cooperative Extension Service at 606.864.4167.