Best nutrition for bred cows

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This!
Being over conditioned is not good for the soon-to-be momma heifer or for the calf growing inside her. I prefer them to be a little thinner in the last couple of months. I call 'em 'thrifty'. Easy doers.
Fat cows (especially heifers) don't:
1. Cycle as good as a 'thrifty' heifer.
2. Dilate as fully and quickly as a 'thrifty' heifer.
3. Push as strongly and easily as a 'thrifty' heifer.
4. Recover from birth as easily and as quickly as a 'thrifty' heifer.
5, Milk and mother as good as a 'thrifty' heifer.

If the heifer is fat, most of the time, the calf will be too.
A decade ago, I let my wife take over one of our beefmaster heifers after the heifer was bred and turned her into a pet of sorts. She was adamant that the heifer needed more than the rest and started feeding her every evening when she was about 4 months along. I tried to tell her, but she insisted on the feed supplement and was heartbroke when I pulled a 99lb dead calf and all the rest calved alone with 70-80 lb calves. I didn't say anything to wife then but a few weeks later we had a sit down talk about what went wrong.

Not much you can do to control weight gain if they are on grass but generally, she won't eat more than she needs, but if you decide to start supplementing her with feed, she'll still graze and you can get them too fat due to increased protein. Even when the grass turns brown, she will be fine most of the time--she'll just eat more of the lesser quality grass. Winter bred cattle and other bovines have made it thru pregnancy's rigors on just spring/summer grass for thousands of years without us interfering.
Thank you for the great info! I do have to supplement with hay through the winter because I simply don't have enough pasture and we have been in drought years… really plays a part in how much feed we se sadly.
 
The grass doesn't appear to be over abundant in your paddocks so I'd be keeping an eye on that making sure they don't have too little to eat.

Ken
Yes definitely! This section of our pasture is extra skimpy because we bought this property 3 years ago and did a lot of really bad brush clearing for fire control around the homes. It's taking the grass a while to grow back lush. The rest of the pastures however, are very full! As you can tell from their bellies lol. Thanks Ken!
 
I feed a good loose mineral year round to all of our cattle. I usually feed its Ferm but any good mineral will work. The condition of your cattle looks about right to me. We keep our heifers in good shape and never pulled a calf this year. There are many factors that have an effect on BW. I have easy fleshing cows that many would say are too fat. They breed first cycle every year and wean a big calf. Everyone has had a different experience. I always remember what I was taught that you can't starve a profit out of cattle long term. You will pay for it long term. Our cattle also get salt and have liquid feed or tubs available. They only eat what they need. I would provide a good loose mineral and keep doing what you are doing.
Thank you! I do have a good loose mineral available. I think these ladies will be right on track for calving but I know to stick close to home when that time comes.
 
Thank you! I do have a good loose mineral available. I think these ladies will be right on track for calving but I know to stick close to home when that time comes.
Issues can arise for a variety of reasons. We have managed our heifers the same for at least 6 years. Never pulled a calf for 4 years. Had a prolonged extreme cold spell in 21 and pulled several, The only change we made was the bull we had used got crippled. So AIed the heifers to a bull with an 72 lb actual BW and cleaned up with 2 of our herd bulls. One was a Hereford and never touched a calf this year. Genetics of both the bull and heifer have an influence along with the weather conditions. Many would say we keep our heifers in too good of condition. We have had more issues with thin heifers we bought than our fleshier heifers. We also consult our vets and they agree. Good luck with your calving.
 
Issues can arise for a variety of reasons. We have managed our heifers the same for at least 6 years. Never pulled a calf for 4 years. Had a prolonged extreme cold spell in 21 and pulled several, The only change we made was the bull we had used got crippled. So AIed the heifers to a bull with an 72 lb actual BW and cleaned up with 2 of our herd bulls. One was a Hereford and never touched a calf this year. Genetics of both the bull and heifer have an influence along with the weather conditions. Many would say we keep our heifers in too good of condition. We have had more issues with thin heifers we bought than our fleshier heifers. We also consult our vets and they agree. Good luck with your calving.
Want to add it has been our experience over the years fleshier heifers will push more and possibly harder. A thin heifer will quit sooner. We calve most of our heifers twice a day. We did bring the last 2 in this year due too bad weather coming and the pasture we use is rough. Otherwise we believe leaving them outside so they exercise is the best.
 
Personally, if I had to choose between 100# too heavy vs 100 TOO LIGHT, I would definitely go with too heavy. Now I don't mean 100# +/- from ideal weight. "Ideal weight" can vary a bit. 100# on a full grown heifer is not much difference. Everyone has a very biased opinion on what's right - but research time & time again has proven if they are too thin, they don't have the energy to push, the calf is lighter and does not have the will power to live.
Cold weather and high protein grows fetuses. I don't think in Calf. you have a problem with cold.
Also, research has shown that heifers OVER 30 months of age at parturition, likely will have a harder time with same size calf as a 24 month old because their pelvic area has calcified by that age. As a heifer, they are more flexible. Once they have calved, their pelvic area stretches prior to the calcification process and remain stretched out for easier calving.
BCS is extremely important at calving time. Too thin is bad and too fat is also bad. Fine line!!!
Your heifers look to be in perfect BCS.
 
Personally, if I had to choose between 100# too heavy vs 100 TOO LIGHT, I would definitely go with too heavy. Now I don't mean 100# +/- from ideal weight. "Ideal weight" can vary a bit. 100# on a full grown heifer is not much difference. Everyone has a very biased opinion on what's right - but research time & time again has proven if they are too thin, they don't have the energy to push, the calf is lighter and does not have the will power to live.
Cold weather and high protein grows fetuses. I don't think in Calf. you have a problem with cold.
Also, research has shown that heifers OVER 30 months of age at parturition, likely will have a harder time with same size calf as a 24 month old because their pelvic area has calcified by that age. As a heifer, they are more flexible. Once they have calved, their pelvic area stretches prior to the calcification process and remain stretched out for easier calving.
BCS is extremely important at calving time. Too thin is bad and too fat is also bad. Fine line!!!
Your heifers look to be in perfect BCS.
Thank you Jeanne, for all of the great info. I thought my heifers BCS was just right, and it makes sense, better nutrition put into the heifer, will result in more energy to push and a healthier calf. But, like you said, there is a point of over doing that nutrition per say, and a high BCS will have lots of problems. I didn't know that about the 30 month mark. These ladies will be calving around 27 months so I guess I did good there.
 
Personally, if I had to choose between 100# too heavy vs 100 TOO LIGHT, I would definitely go with too heavy. Now I don't mean 100# +/- from ideal weight. "Ideal weight" can vary a bit. 100# on a full grown heifer is not much difference. Everyone has a very biased opinion on what's right - but research time & time again has proven if they are too thin, they don't have the energy to push, the calf is lighter and does not have the will power to live.
Cold weather and high protein grows fetuses. I don't think in Calf. you have a problem with cold.
Also, research has shown that heifers OVER 30 months of age at parturition, likely will have a harder time with same size calf as a 24 month old because their pelvic area has calcified by that age. As a heifer, they are more flexible. Once they have calved, their pelvic area stretches prior to the calcification process and remain stretched out for easier calving.
BCS is extremely important at calving time. Too thin is bad and too fat is also bad. Fine line!!!
Your heifers look to be in perfect BCS.
The issue between TOO heavy and TOO light is simple. ( in my original comment I didn't use the word, "too"... because anything "too" is automatically a problem ) Too light means the animal is going to be weaker and have less stamina... and too heavy means the animal has fat impeding the birth canal. Both are dangerous. Cattle without necessary energy can be helped by pulling their calf. Calves having trouble exiting the birth canal can be pulled too, but the strain on both cow and calf is more dangerous. The nerves controlling the rear legs in the cow can be injured, and of course the calves can have issues due to time involved and fetal position.
On the other hand if a 1200 pound heifer, ideal weight, weighs 1100 pounds she is not dangerously underweight. She isn't "too", and she should be fine. Too light is probably when she is under a thousand pounds, more or less. Individuals vary...
Which is also true in overweight animals. The problem with calving in overweight cows is a matter of internal fat. Individuals lay on fat differently. But in general animals that appear too heavy (compared to their ideal weight) are laying on internal fat just as they are showing external fat. It doesn't take a lot of internal fat to create a calving difficulty.
That's why I prefer my first calf heifers to be less heavy than fat. NOT skinny, NOT weak... just thin enough that I'm comfortable that they don't have any significant internal fat accumulating.
Especially for a first calf...
 
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Basically, we are saying same thing, but you would like her lighter, I would prefer a heifer slightly heavier. She will have a hard enough time KEEPING her weight decent after calving in a real world farm.
And I'm not saying anything negative about your farm.
On my farm, she won't have much help and my girls milk pretty heavy. I have a 60 day calving, so she has to breed right back.
 
Not much you can do to control weight gain if they are on grass but generally, she won't eat more than she needs, but if you decide to start supplementing her with feed, she'll still graze and you can get them too fat due to increased protein. Even when the grass turns brown, she will be fine most of the time--she'll just eat more of the lesser quality grass. Winter bred cattle and other bovines have made it thru pregnancy's rigors on just spring/summer grass for thousands of years without us interfering.
I'd like to make a little correction here: Protein doesn't cause cattle to gain weight, it is energy (grain) that does that. Protein makes them strong.

Also, SBMF mentioned to give protein tubs in summer. Can I ask why? Adding excess protein just costs money. In our area it isn't needed in a 'normal' summer. In fall when the grass turns brown, that is an indication the quality has gone out of the grass, then would be when it would pay to add protein. But then again, I am in Wyoming and not Texas. Your grass might not have the 'punch' ours does. I just don't know.

I would advise you to get your cattle on a good mineral program. You will be surprised at the problems you WON'T have. Talk to someone in your area to find out what is needed. Maybe talk to 2 someone's, so you get a good idea. Or perhaps a county agent; someone that might have grass samples of your area.

Edit: Your cattle (the pictures wouldn't load earlier) look to me to be BS of 6!! I like that! Cattle in good shape are usually body condition score of 6; that is flat-backed. The belly isn't an indication of body condition. Showing a bigger belly could be caused by the calf, or because of a big intake of water, or undigested forage. So you can do a search on body condition and see how BS is rated. That might help you to know.

Good luck to you.
 
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@ksmit454 , beautiful pregnant cows/heifers...perfect weight...I predict they'll do fine alone in birthing and calves will be a good normal size. Too many flies near the eyes...got to get a few mounted long stiff brooms mounted vertical to those trees so they can rub, clean and beautiful themselves and get rid of those face flies. You can dope the brooms with garlic powered too. Cows love to scratch themselves on uniform brush fiber surfaces.
 
@ksmit454 , beautiful pregnant cows/heifers...perfect weight...I predict they'll do fine alone in birthing and calves will be a good normal size. Too many flies near the eyes...got to get a few mounted long stiff brooms mounted vertical to those trees so they can rub, clean and beautiful themselves and get rid of those face flies. You can dope the brooms with garlic powered too. Cows love to scratch themselves on uniform brush fiber surfaces.
I have had the hardest time with face flies this year! Nothing is working for me
 
I prefer to calve in the 27 month range. We just do better with "older heifers"... they seem to be more settled and have more maternal instinct. But that is just us. We don't do much supplementation when they are growing so it takes them a little longer to get their growth too.
Everyone has their own system. Most of our mature cows are in the 11-1200 range so calving at 1,000 is "bigger " for our animals. I have no problem calving a 9 wt heifer if she is in good shape. We use calving ease bulls... have 2 that throw 60 lb calves... they pop them out, the calves get up and get going... have been using these 2 bulls for years... alternating so that they don't get used on direct daughters...and we keep heifers we like, not depending on who the sire is... we just have to like the heifer and she HAS to have a sensible disposition.....doesn't matter if she is out of the ce bull or a plus wt bull. But we use plus weight bulls for our cows because I think using light birth weight bulls too much has contributed to animals getting smaller.... I have a couple of cows that just get bred to the ce bulls because they stay at these pastures where I mostly put heifers to get bred. One has a slightly lame leg, the ce bulls are both very gentle breeders. I have kept 2 heifers out of this cow and they have nice size, one getting ready to calve this fall... Also, I keep my longhorn here, and she had a nice heifer, then a real nice bull, and a set of twin heifers this year but lost one....she is smaller so the small calf doesn't hurt her but she makes some milk and the calves grow good.
I also like a heifer to have good BCS... she needs enough reserves to make milk for a new baby, and hold her weight and breed back; as well as continue to grow.... Don't want her FAT but want her to have very good body condition.....
I think that your pictures show animals in pretty good shape... I wouldn't be ashamed of them at all... ;)
(y)(y)
 
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