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Unit 15

Kinds of Feed

Cow-calf feeding programs are based on the use of roughages Typical roughages used are

Pasture Hay Silage Straw Corncobs Other crop residues

Roughages provide the cheapest source of energy for the cow and calf.


Graze as much as possible. If weather does not permit year round grazing then forage should be harvested and stored for later use. Downfall: grazing only recovers 15-30% of what is produced.

Pasture & Hay

Proper management increases the yield. Soil should be tested and fertilized Use rotational grazing to increase carrying capacity.

Crop Residues

Helps reduce feed costs In Northern areas 2 acres of cornstalks will carry a pregnant cow 80-100 days Heavy snows will reduce the carrying capacity of cornstalk fields.


Feeding Dry Pregnant Cows

Feed enough to keep them in good flesh from fall to spring calving Cows of normal weight should not loose less than 10% of their body weight Thin cows should be fed enough to gain some weight during winter


Should be avoided. Results in


cost Trouble calving Less milk flow Higher calf losses

Feeding Young Cows and Heifers

Require more feed because they are still growing The amount of feed received is more important than the kind of feed.

Energy Needs

Vary according to
Condition Age


During cold weather increase feed or energy intake by 1% for each degree of cold stress.

Last 30-45 Days of Pregnancy

Generally need a 10-15% increase in protien Especially so if hay is being fed Can be achieved with an extra 2 pound/hd of high quality hay or additional protien supplements


Should be fed free choice Mineral mixes should include

Calcium Phosphorus Salt Any trace minerals that are known to be deficient If grass tetany is a problem then magnesium oxide should be included in the mix

A good mixture to use is one part trace mineral salt and one part dicalcium phosphate


Blocks, lick tubs and cubes are the most convenient ways to feed Care should be taken to prevent overeating Overeating can be partially controlled by feeding plenty of roughage and supplying plenty of fresh water

Protein Supplements

Vitamin A

Only needed when cattle are fed poor quality roughage If the cow has been on good summer pasture enough Vitamin A will be stored in the body to get the animal through several months

Lactation Rations

Depends on how much the milk cow produces Heavier milk producers have higher requirements than average or low milk producers Protein requirements for lactation are 160-268% greater than for dry cows Energy 36-38% Calcium and phosphorous 100-250% Vitamin A 18-88% High quality pasture can usually meet lactation needs

Lactation Rations

Salt and minerals should be provided free choice If the roughage is limited or poor quality some grain should be fed

Lactation Rations for 1st Calf Heifers

Require more feed Heifers are still growing and developing They need to regain weight lost from calving & produce milk for their calf Heifers also need to be in good condition for rebreeding.


Creep Feeding Calves

A way of providing calves with extra feed May be grain, commercial creep feed mix, or roughage Fed in a feeder that cows can not get into

Advantages of Creep Feeding

Produces heavier calves at weaning (30-70 lbs) Produces higher grade and more finish at weaning Calves go on feedlot rations better at weaning Creates less feedlot stress Allows cows and calves to stay on poorer quality pasture for a longer time

Good Reasons to Creep Feed

Calves are to be sold at weaning Calves are to be fed out on high-energy rations Cows are milking poorly Calves are from 1st calf heifers Calves were born late in the season Calves have above average inherited growth potential

Calves were born in the fall Calves are to be weaned early (45-90 days) Calf-feed price ratio is favorable Pastures become dry in late summer Cows and calves are kept in confinement

Disadvantages of Creep Feeding

Calves are well fed after weaning,

the weight advantage from creep feeding is lost

When production testing, it is harder to detect differences in inherited gaining ability Replacement heifers become to fat Non-creep-fed calves usually make faster and more economical gains after weaning compared to calves that were creep fed before weaning

Reasons Not To Feed Creep

Calves are to be fed through the winter on roughage Cows are above average milk producers The calf-feed ratio is poor Calves are on good pasture Heifers are to be kept for replacements The milk production of the dam is to be measured


Growing Replacement Heifers

British breeds should gain 1.0-1.25 pound/day from weaning to breeding Larger breeds should gain 1.25-1.75 pound/day Heifers should reach puberty at 12-14 months

Generally heifers reach puberty when they have attained 65% of their mature weight

English breeds- 550-625 lbs Larger breeds- 675-750 lbs

Heifers need to be bred according to weight and not age!

Feed For Growing Replacement Heifers

Must be palatable In areas of cold weather nutrient needs increase 1% for each degree of temperature below freezing Feed must be increased as heifers grow Vitamins and minerals should be fed free choice


Growing Young Bulls

Wean at 6-8 months of age Feed high energy rations for about 5 months Avoid fattening Allow full feed until spring then put on pasture to complete growth.

will continue to grow slowly until about 4 years of age


Hay Grain

Amount depends on type and quality

Minerals free choice Feed Vitamin A if ration is mostly corn silage or limited hay May be self fed or hand fed

When self feeding use plenty of roughage to keep bulls from getting to fat or going off their feed.

Rate of Growth & Needs

Yearling bulls should be fed to gain 1.5-2 lbs/day 2-4 yr old bulls need more energy and protein in the winter than cows and should be fed accordingly Mature bulls in good condition may be fed the same as the cow herd

After the Breeding Season

Loose weight Must be fed to regain that weight Give additional feed 6-8 weeks before the start of the next breeding season Bulls that are too fat or too thin have poor fertility They should be in medium flesh and have plenty of exercise

After the Breeding Season

Keep bulls separate from cows


no place to keep bulls it is safe to run them with steers

Before the Breeding Season

If necessary trim hoofs several weeks before breeding season begins Test semen for fertility and disease



100% calf crop Observe the herd closely Check for injured or diseased cows or bulls Watch to ensure bulls are servicing cows

Number of Bulls to Run

Young bulls can easily service 20-25 cows Mature bulls

Estrus-synchronized cows-25 Non synchronized cows- 35-40

Range conditions

4 bulls per 100 cows

I have 300 cows. How many bulls do I need?

If a high number of cows remain inbred then the bull should be replaced.


No more than 60 days to maintain a short calving season (40-60 days) Begin breeding 20-25 days after half the calves are born

allows for a 2nd and even third heat cycle for cows that do not settle the first time.

Breed yearling heifers 20 days before older cows

Conception Rates

Higher for cows that are gaining weight before and during the breeding season Cows that are too fat or too thin are poor breeders Pregnancy check 60-90 days after breeding Sell any open cows Conception Rates can be lowered by

weather Injuries

Artificial Insemination (AI)

Placing the sperm in the female reproductive tract by other than natural means Breeder uses an inseminating tube to deposit sperm into the cervix and uterus of the cow

Disadvantages of AIing

Need a trained inseminator Requires more time and supervision of the herd Sterile equipment Special handling facilities



Most important when breeding yearling heifers Should weigh 550-750 pounds Weight should be from growth, not fattening


Goal is to breed the heifer so she calves at 2 years of age When achieved the result is 1 more calf produced during a cows lifetime

2 year old Calving

Lowers production cost Keeps a higher percent of cows in the herd in production Fewer replacement heifers are needed each year to maintain a stable herd size

Conception Rates for Heifers

Lower for yearling heifers than older cows Longer calving season Possibly need more help in calving

Breeding Heifers

Breed to calve 20-30 days before older cows Require more feed and should be kept separate from older cows Breed for 40-60 days Pregnancy check 60-90 days later Sell any heifers that are not pregnant


After the Calf is Born

Make sure it breathes May be necessary to clean the mucus from the mouth and nose Calf should nurse shortly after birth

The cows first milk, called colostrums, is very important as it contains nutrients, such as Vitamins A & E, and antibodies the calf needs

Cow should expel the afterbirth within 12-24 hours after giving birth Keep cows with calves separate from cows that havent calved Identify the calf with an ear tag or tattoo Record the calfs birth weight, calving problems and birth date for performance records



Can be done at birth Several methods

Knife Burdizzo

(fig. 15-6) Elastor bands

Knife Castration

Most widely used Should only be done during a time of year when flies are not a problem Calves should not be more than 3-4 months old Results in an open wound

This increase the danger of infection and bleeding

Wound should be treated with iodine Calves should be check several days after castration to check for swelling, continued bleeding and stiffness

Burdizzo Castration

Bloodless Crushes the cords of the testicles


if the pincers are not applied correctly the cord may not be crushed completely resulting in a staggy steer later on

No open wound Good choice in areas where screw worms are a problem

Elastrator Band Castration

Special instrument that places a tight rubber band around the scrotum above the testicles Cuts of the blood supply to the testicle

causes the testicle to waste away due to lack of blood

No open wound


Several reason for dehorning


calves bring less Dehorned calves require less space at the feed bunk and on trucks Less risk of injury with dehorned calves

Calves should be dehorned at a young age If possible do not dehorn during fly season

Methods of Dehorning


Liquids Caustic sticks Paste

Spoons Gouges Tubes Hot irons Barnes-Type Clippers Saws


Branding and Marking

Common in larger herds Required by law in some western states


SD requires, E. SD does not.

Brands recorded by county and state Governments


State Brand Board-located in Pierre

Common Branding Methods

Hot Irons Cold Irons Freeze Branding



Hot Iron Brand

Oldest Most commonly used http://www.sdbrandboard.com/default.asp

Branding in SD, 1888

Freeze Branding

Becoming more common Uses liquid nitrogen, brass irons and rubbing alcohol Not a legal method of cattle branding in SD


Calves can be thrown to the ground Calves can be branded in a chute using a table

Ear Cutting

Almost as common as branding Recorded in brand records Protected by law One or both ears may be cut Cutting is done so that it may be seen from the front or behind

Ear Tattooing

Well adapted as a method of marking purebred cattle More permanent than ear cutting Special instrument is used Mark is made with indelible ink No open wound is left

Ear Tags

Widely used Identification number is on the tag

Ear Tagging and Tattooing

Neck Chains

Used when herd owners do not want to use permanent identification Usually used by purebred breeders Not a good choice for cows on brushy range

Brisket Tags

Tag is placed in the brisket Hard to Read Often ripped out because they catch on things


Selling feeder calves

Calves are born in the spring Weigh about 400-500 pounds


calves will weigh about 5% less than steers

Calves are sold in the fall as feeder calves

Selling Yearling Feeders

Calves weigh 650-750 pounds Use mostly roughage as feed If calves are born in fall they are weaned in spring and fed on pasture for the summer then sold as yearling feeders in the fall

Growing and Finishing

Grow calve on roughage Finish for 4-6 months in the feedlot Corn silage or grain and roughage are used for the wintering ration When the animals are on pasture no or little grain is fed Animals then go to the feedlot and grain feeding begins.


The process of preparing calves for the stress of being moved to the feedlot Most procedures involved in preconditioning are accepted as good management practices Accomplished before the calves leave the farm or ranch


Castration, dehorning, identification by tattooing or branding Maintaining health records Vaccinations Weaning 4-6 weeks before sale Training to eat solid feed from a bunk and to drink water from a water tank Worming and treatment for lice, grubs and mange (if necessary)

Preconditioning Preconditioning adds costs to production but is well worth it!


Growing and feeding calves from weaning until they are ready to enter the feedlot Done primarily with roughage ration Calves are fed 120-150 days Expected daily gains of 1.5-2.0 pounds Calves must be kept from getting too fat, as overly fat calves bring less when going to the feedlot for finishing.


Feeding programs are based on roughages

Summer pasture and fall/winter silage and hay is common The types of pasture, silage and hay is going to be dependant on where you are in the U.S.

Dry, pregnant cows and bulls are fed to prevent them from becoming too fat or too thin Younger cows and heifers and young bulls that will be kept for breeding require more feed So do cows nursing calves All should be fed salt and minerals free choice Creep feeding may or may not be profitable


Performance records should be used to replace herd cows Replacement heifers should be bred based on weight not age Use fertility testing at the beginning of the breeding season to achieve a 100% calf crop 4 bulls to 100 cows Preconditioning of calves should occur when they are young Backgrounding calves is growing calves on roughages from weaning until they are ready for the feedlot