How are your cows and heifers performing?
Fat? Full milked up udders? Great calves at foot?
With a fantastic season, “too much feed” and wonderful conditions, they should be in perfect condition. So, are they? Will they stay that way? And anyway, what is perfect?
If they are “perfect” right now that’s wonderful, but don’t forget about them.
Too often they get forgotten about, especially the good old trusty ones. The ones that give and give, year in and year out. Once calves are weaned off them, they get put out in the back paddock to be given second priority treatment. Often, they actually become last priority.
Don’t let the amazing start to the season fool you into a false sense of security. Sure things are easier this year, but that is no excuse for complacency. Look after them. We all know seasons can change dramatically. I’ve recently heard comments like “We’ve had a fantastic Autumn Break, it’s just like Spring!”. But will we get two springs in one year?
Your cows need to be maintained in ideal condition, which is fit, not fat. Keep them healthy. Make them a priority. Of course, don’t let them get too fat, but also don’t starve them trying to pull weight off! Allowing them to lose weight dramatically will cause more issues than it will solve.
The better you look after your herd, the better they will look after you. For efficient reproduction performances, the key indicators are Body Condition Score (BCS) for cows and LWT for heifers. A cow’s BCS is critical at calving, targeting between 2.5 and 3.5 during calving and lactation. Fit, not fat.
Nutrition and energy levels need to be maintained during lactation to allow her to milk well and give her calf a chance to express its potential. Just as important is the management of feed on offer (or more importantly energy intake) around joining, pre-weaning and post weaning. Your management will influence the return of her oestrus cycle. Conception rates in your cattle are most commonly a direct reflection of your management. If you don’t meet her energy demands, she can’t reach the critical mating weight/BCS and risk failing to re-conceive. So always ask yourself, was it her fault or yours?
Right now cattle are like gold. Treat your cows like Queens! Can you afford not too?