Cows, calves need high grass intake

A lot of freshly calved suckler cows will be turned out to grass in the coming weeks.

There is plenty of grass on most farms, and it is just a matter of when the conditions will allow cattle to be turned out. It is a critical time in their production cycle, as increasing grass intake quickly for both cow and calf will improve performance and reduce stress.

At turn out, the most important things to monitor are grass intake and rumen fill. Poor intakes of grass should be supplemented with forages or concentrates.

Now that you have calved the cow, your attention must shift to getting her back in calf again. Most suckler cows will lose some body condition after calving, but this needs to be controlled in order to produce enough quality milk for her calf while going back in calf quickly.

Grass quality and supply will determine if you need to supplement cows with additional forage or concentrates. If you need to supplement suckler cows on grass, it may be easier to keep them in until there is sufficient grass, before turning them out.

It is much easier to feed dairy cows, because they return to the yard twice per day for milking. However it can be a lot of work to supplement sucklers, and could cause damage in paddocks.

Dry Sucklers

As there is plenty of grass around, many will consider turning out dry cows before calving. This is risky, because it is difficult to control cow condition at grass. There is also a risk with regard to milk fever and held cleanings in older cows, due to high-potassium grass.

Bull Performance

An infertile or sub-fertile bull can throw your calving pattern into total disarray.

Empty cows are a serious cost to any herd.

Monitor your bull’s activity closely, and aim to keep accurate heat detection records.

Observed heats should be recorded to watch for repeats; this will aid in uncovering any issues with fertility.

If you buy a new bull, try to get him on the farm well in advance of putting him to work.

Many breeders get bulls fertility tested before sale. It gives the buyer and seller great peace of mind.

Breeding will begin soon, so get your new (or old) bull ready for action. Bulls should be in good body condition before the breeding season starts. Also make sure that you have sufficient bull-power for the number of cows.

An overworked bull will be no use to you. In a herd with large cow numbers, it is critical to rotate bulls, to avoid over-work.


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