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Advise on winter feeding

Discussion in 'Feeding Time - Cattle (Feed & Forages)' started by Robert Shon, Oct 27, 2016.

  1. Nov 6, 2016
    WildRoseBeef

    WildRoseBeef Range nerd & bovine enthusiast

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    Ooohh Lordy!! I really hate to say this, and I'm not trying to bring you down or offend you or anything, but I have to be the one here to inject a big dose of uncomfortable reality.

    Even though they "look good" for looks and aesthetics, both animals are really fat. Show-quality fat, and most show animals don't last long or fare well as far as fertility is concerned primarily because they've been fed way too well. They need to come down in weight. And this will definitely explain why the cow is not catching!

    Essentially, you're feeding those critters a little too well!

    When you have an overly fat cow like this (out of the Canadian Body condition scoring system I'd peg her at a 4.75 to 5, which is overly fat), she will have what is called "cystic ovaries." Her ovaries develop cysts on them and prevent her from cycling. She's at "show cow" quality, which is often excessively fat and cattle like these don't last long as far as their fertility is concerned. The vet should've been able to tell you this

    The heifer too is in too good of condition. The fuzziness and angle are a bit off to really tell, but she's definitely has too good of fat cover and will really impact her fertility AND milking ability.

    Fertility is only partly heritable. Most of the time, though, it's a lot to do with what and how they're fed. This will definitely impact fertility and breeding ability.

    You really need to not feed these two like the Jerseys. Don't give them corn silage, just straight hay, not grain either. Get them to come down in weight. Both need to lose at least 100 lbs to be where they should be at.

    Please have a look at these links:
    http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/beef8822
    http://www.beefresearch.ca/research/body-condition-scoring.cfm

    When you get either of them in the chute, go on the RIGHT side of the animal (not the left, as this is where the rumen is situated; and the cow has you on her left side, so I may be a little bit off in my estimates), and feel for the short-ribs (demonstrated in the links above). If you can barely feel the short-ribs or can't put your fingers in between the ribs without a lot of pressure, they'll be over-conditioned.

    So again, feed the Jerseys and the beef cattle separately. Both the cow and heifer have enough condition right now to not need any extra feed going into winter.

    I'm sorry for being a bit too brutally honest and have no intention of offending you, but I've seen quite a few cases where the producer was wondering why their cattle weren't catching even after the bull was with them for quite a while or they've been AI'd several times, and of those cases they didn't realize that they had cows in their herd that were fed too well, and ended up having cystic ovaries, or just wouldn't catch. Same thing with heifers. And of course the producers were all surprised because they didn't realize that these animals were a bit more feed efficient than they figured. :)
     
  2. Nov 6, 2016
    Robert Shon

    Robert Shon Chillin' with the herd

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    NO offence taken, that's WHY I'm here asking questions !! The vet has only said that they have hay belly & never suggested cutting the feed back.
    Tomorrow I'll separate the cow & heifer BUT all of them have been on a Oat Baleage & whatever they can graze diet with NO grain for the last couple of months. That is with the exception of the two youngest calves. Even when I was giving grain they only got a single gallon bucket between the bigger group which at the time counted 12 head. My pastures are 60% white clover & the rest timothy & alfalfa but they are on the skinny side this late in the season. Should I toss a bale of hay in the pasture for the baldy & calf or just let them fend for themselves ?
    My questions about the corn silage are all aimed at "winter" feeding. Winters here range from about mid December to late March with temps & wind chill often in the negative numbers. I'm trying to not have any underfed or sick stock over the winter. I'm sure my other Tubbys are over feed also but loading pictures takes me about a half hour for each one. Using 4x5 round bales makes it a little hard to ration feed. Once the wrap is removed it's got to be used. I suppose I could chase the critters out of the paddock & back into the pasture after an hour or so. Or only allow them in over night. That ought to be muddy fun !!
     
  3. Nov 7, 2016
    WildRoseBeef

    WildRoseBeef Range nerd & bovine enthusiast

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    Robert, I know what you've been asking. Again I'm not trying to knock you down or anything but rather trying to help you. I know I come off a bit blunt but it's because I'm wanting to help you out with your animals, not knock you down for doing the wrong thing. None of us are perfect, and I don't expect you to be, but I'm also trying to help you so that your cattle, especially those two beefers, are going to be in as good of shape as you can get them so they give you some calves.

    I don't expect the vet to know body condition scoring, most of them don't. The hay belly on the Jerseys just means they're getting a lot of roughage, it doesn't say how much fat cover they have over their bones.

    I suggest the hay because you're probably starting to run short on pasture, and get them (the beef pair) off the baleage and let them have both the hay and roughage on pasture.

    Like I said before, both the young heifer and cow have enough condition on them to get through the winter with no trouble. I'm not worried about them with feeding them corn silage, except the point I need to make is to exclude them from that feed because they don't need it this winter. They have enough fat cover that you can afford to have them LOSE weight this winter.

    I live in an area where winter temperatures dip down to -30 C too (Alberta, Canada) with plenty of snow and nasty cold winters, and there's plenty of beef cows around that have enough fat cover that can get by with just hay. The thinner ones might need a little grain, but that's about it.

    The Jerseys are a different story. They're the ones that are in need of the corn silage more than the cow and her youngster. So I'd worry more about them than the beef pair.

    CAN you separate the beef pair from the Jerseys? Can you feed them separately? Can you try to make this possible if it's not?

    There's no need to chase them in and out every hour or so, that's not what I'm saying, I'm saying you need to consider the fact that you may need to feed these animals in separate groups. I know it means more gates to open and close and all that, but if that cow isn't going to come up pregnant, something needs to be done to get the pair to lose weight this winter. But not so much weight that they're going to be underfed. PLEASE have a look at those BCS links I sent you. They'll help you a lot.
     
  4. Nov 7, 2016
    farmerjan

    farmerjan Herd Master

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    Most of our vets in this area deal with alot of cattle so they do know body condition scores, but don't know about your area. Yes Roberts' beef animals are carrying more fat than needed, but I consider that to be insurance going into the winter. If the cow did settle to the 2nd AI breeding then you don't need to worry except to not let her gain more fat over the winter. The heifer being only born in may, and now weaned off the cow, will need that fat to get through the winter as her body will draw off the fat stores as she grows also. She will not even be a candidate to breed until summer or fall of 2017. We calve our heifers at about 30 months here. Yes.. all the experts say 24 months, breeding at 15 months and all that. Several of the registered breeders in this area have come back off that . I feel, and heard a reg limousin breeder say at a bull and heifer sale just this past weekend, that 30 months seems to work better for him, since he does not need the inputs to get them to grow faster to be ready to calve at 24 months, that he also has alot less calving concerns even with using easing calving bulls, and the heifers have the maturity to take care of the calves and just go right on without any extra input from him. We are the same. I have not pulled a calf from a heifer that we raised in over 10 years. And that was a 1/2 dairy heifer that the calf was backwards; got it out fast and the cow and calf did fine. We have had numerous pullings everytime we buy bred heifers. She is still in the herd by the way, 13 years old and on her 9th calf now. Starting to show her age and the dairy in her makes her lose alot of condition while the calf is on her. She will get a break this next time and go 18 months between calves instead of the usual 12 so she can regain some condition. She will also come back to where I feed the dairy nurse cows and get a little extra through the winter. She deserves it. Have 3 or 4 of her daughters in the beef herd, 3/4 angus, and now 2 or 3 grandaughters that are 7/8 angus.
    Have several angus x cows that stay fat as pigs on grass and hay...they will calve and look like they are 10 months preg a month later:woot:ep:lol:....we call them easy keepers. We want grass genetics, with as little extra feed inputs as possible. The cattle markets now just don't pencil out to be putting feed into beef cattle. By the way, we will not buy a bull for breeding if he has been crept fed as a calf...An old farmer friend once said, if the momma don't make enough milk to wean off a good calf on just grass (and hay for fall born calves), you need different cows...Good advise for beef farmers.:):)
     
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  5. Nov 7, 2016
    WildRoseBeef

    WildRoseBeef Range nerd & bovine enthusiast

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    Well when I hear that all the vet had to say about some animals was that they had hay belly that tells me they were just looking at the belly and not the amount of fat covering over the ribs, hips and spine. Just something I observed.

    And no I'm glad this pair has fat cover for the winter, that's what was getting at. :) At least this way he can spend less time and money on feeding those two than he will with the Jerseys, because they've got plenty of insurance to carry them over the winter without needing anything extra.

    I'd be happy for Robert if that baldy settled after a second attempt. But who knows, I don't think he verified if she did finally settle or not.
     
  6. Nov 7, 2016
    Robert Shon

    Robert Shon Chillin' with the herd

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    Rose, Dr. Evans was here today & Yes, the Baldy took on the second attempt ! We talked about conditoning as well as my feeding program & he suggested a couple changes including changing to a Grower for the two smaller calves. Start my free choice minerals, change salt blocks, switch to just hay (until it gets Colder) & then feed the corn silage at about 5# per head. No the beefer doesn't need it but the jerseys will put it to good use. I've got a couple changes to make in my feed pen that should help separate the beef from the dairy & save me some money in the long run. I'm sure it will get used on something else as it always does. Like the section of fence that the tree took out this past weekend ! Thank You for the time & advise, I think I'm headed in the right direction but only time will tell. Bob Shon
     
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  7. Nov 8, 2016
    WildRoseBeef

    WildRoseBeef Range nerd & bovine enthusiast

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    Awesome news!! Sounds like you're on the right track then. :)
     
  8. Nov 8, 2016
    Robert Shon

    Robert Shon Chillin' with the herd

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    Well thank you for the advise & help. The Baldy IS preg. & should calf in mid June ! I've come up with a way to separate the two beefers from the rest while I'm feeding them. My new gates will be in next week & that will make my life much better. The feed situation I believe is figured out & most if not all of my questions have been answered.
    Again, Thank you !!
     
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