NDSU Extension - Mercer County


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Calving Season 2018

calving season, calving, livestock nutrition needs

 Submitted by Craig Askim, Extension Agent/Agriculture and Natural Resources

It’s the middle of March and many livestock producers will start the spring calving season. Some have already started calving and may be close to finishing. However, no matter what stage of calving you are at, this year’s calving season will be a little different from normal moving forward.

Looking back, 2017 will go down in the history books as being dry. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough moisture this winter to correct the drought condition from last year. Cattle are under stress because of low quality feeds available to feed them, along with some colder than average temperatures in February and March.

So what can we do about this? The last 30 days of a cow pregnancy and the first 60 days after a cow gives birth is the most critical time for the cow to meet its nutritional needs, which includes feed and water. While forage/hay is short, this is the time we must make sure we are meeting the feeding requirements for the cow and calf. The environmental stress along with the calving stress greatly influences the milk production and the overall health of the cow at this time. The stress increases even more in first calf heifers.

Producers must have a good understanding on this and make sure they are meeting the nutritional requirements by knowing the quality of their feed and water. To obtain the nutritional information you should have your feed and water tested. Once you have the nutritional information you can develop feed management options and put economic value to it. An important point to remember is that cows can actually stop eating if the quality of feed we are feeding is poor, because it is affecting their overall health. The main thing we want to prevent is premature calving or even abortions. This understandably is not easy to do.

In most ranching operations calving season will greatly affect the bottom-line. Doing everything we can to meet the needs of the cow within a month of giving birth or right after birth will pay huge returns later. Meeting the nutritional requirements increases our percentages of the cow to re-breed later in the summer when grass sadly may be short again in 2018. To meet these requirements ranchers must have this valuable information available to them.

More information on this topic is available at the Extension Office, please give me a call at 873-5195.



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