Feeding breed heifers or cows

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Anonymous

Is it true that you should not feed a pregnant heifer or cow much because it could cause calving problems? If this is true how much is not much? Why would the amount of food feed cause calving problems? Isn't it also true that a breed heifer is still growing and needs that food to continue to grow herself and to make milk and to grow the calf? How could she continue to stay healthy with less food and the added burdon of producing a calf and milk to feed it? Thank you

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Anonymous

Yes, it is true that a heifer is still growing, since bovine continue to grow until they are about four years old. I can tell you from this spring's experience that feeding a first calf heifer all she can eat will cause her to be fat. The extra fat causes birthing difficulty because it narrows the birthing canal, deposits on the udder, reducing milking ability, and is just extra weight that she doesn't need. This is how NOT to feed -- I was feeding twice a day... first cutting alfalfa (which I THOUGHT couldn't be overfed) a little more than two flakes per feeding, plus all the straw I could get into the manger. Thinking that a growing heifer needed to have everything she wanted until she was four years old, I let the cattle roam in and out of the manger at will. The grain I give is negligible, being a 13 oz Rubbermaid container, hardly more than a mouthful. I never let the manger get empty.... NEVER! The result was three first calf heifers that had to have each calf pulled. The calf wasn't any too big, so that meant that every bit of feed over the needed amount was going on to the mother. This winter, I will be making sure that the cattle NEVER have in front of them more than they can eat in two hours. Even if they aren't grazing outside, that is about all they need to grow, make milk, and grow the calf. I will be watching those ribs. If more than three show up, I will up the amount of alfalfa a bit. And, I will not be feeding more than one flake of alfalfa to each cow per feeding. The reason I feed alfalfa is because where I live, grass hay is as expensive as alfalfa. I might as well have the good stuff. I am going to add a few ton of grass hay to my hay order, however, for the last month. I will quit feeding the straw when the snow quits flying and put out just hay... no alfalfa for the last six weeks or so of the pregnancies. And, when the new babies drop, I will be putting some alfalfa back into the mom's diet for the milk, but the calves will be given free choice of grass hay until their first winter. Cows, after they get weaned, have this marvelous ability to produce some of their own health. I can't explain why, but apparently it has to do with having four stomachs. The other thing I will do is use the molasses tub (mineral form feeding of my choice) on a more limited basis than I did this last winter. It won't be out in the field constantly. I think I got all your questions answered, but if I didn't I shall return!

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Anonymous

Rule #1, you can't underfeed a small calf out of a cow. That said, over feeding of feeds that contribute to fat deposits can cause calving problems by having too much fat deposit in the repro. tract, it can cause poor muscle tone and I'm sure a bunch of other related problems. Heifers need the best quality of the proper quantity feed they can get. Body Condition Score (BCS) is the best method we currently have that can keep them in the proper condition for calving, breeding back and just generally being healthy. I like heifers to be around BCS 6 to 6.5 and cows around 5.5 to 6 at calving. My preferences, others make like them higher or lower. The problem is, they will loose condition much quicker then you can put it back on.

dunmovin farms

> Is it true that you should not
> feed a pregnant heifer or cow much
> because it could cause calving
> problems? If this is true how much
> is not much? Why would the amount
> of food feed cause calving
> problems? Isn't it also true that
> a breed heifer is still growing
> and needs that food to continue to
> grow herself and to make milk and
> to grow the calf? How could she
> continue to stay healthy with less
> food and the added burdon of
> producing a calf and milk to feed
> it? Thank you
 
OP
A

Anonymous

I know Omar has had problems calving cows too fat, but the latest research shows that overconditioned cattle may have calves weighing 10# heavier at birth, but that there was less dystocia and calf loss with fat heifers than with thin ones. That being said, extremes either way are bad. You are right, heifers need good nutrition because they are still growing themselves, besides growing a baby and needing to start producing milk, and teething. Body condition score is the best way to determine where your cattle are. I actually prefer my heifers to be 6.5 to 7.5 and my cows around 6 to 7. There is a "science", so to speak, of body scoring, but remember, it's in the eye of the beholder. You don't want them globby fat, and you don't want them thin. Jeanne <A HREF="http://www.SimmeValley.com" TARGET="_blank">http://www.SimmeValley.com</A>
> Rule #1, you can't underfeed a
> small calf out of a cow. That
> said, over feeding of feeds that
> contribute to fat deposits can
> cause calving problems by having
> too much fat deposit in the repro.
> tract, it can cause poor muscle
> tone and I'm sure a bunch of other
> related problems. Heifers need the
> best quality of the proper
> quantity feed they can get. Body
> Condition Score (BCS) is the best
> method we currently have that can
> keep them in the proper condition
> for calving, breeding back and
> just generally being healthy. I
> like heifers to be around BCS 6 to
> 6.5 and cows around 5.5 to 6 at
> calving. My preferences, others
> make like them higher or lower.
> The problem is, they will loose
> condition much quicker then you
> can put it back on.

> dunmovin farms

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Anonymous

Is my decision to limit the amount of time the cows eat a good idea? And measuring how much they are getting by how well they clean up the manger... is that a good control method?

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Anonymous

Yes, it sounds like you have a good plan. I only feed grass baleage. My 2 & 3 year olds get all they can eat (without wasting), my cows are left without for at least 1/2 day to make sure they clean up every scrap (I feed enough for about 2 days worth at a time). None receive a protein suppliment or grain. Only my replacement open heifers get grain. All get a well balanced loose mineral mix full time, year round. Jeanne
> Is my decision to limit the amount
> of time the cows eat a good idea?
> And measuring how much they are
> getting by how well they clean up
> the manger... is that a good
> control method?

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A

Anonymous

Yes, this is VERY True!

A calf like a human baby does the majority or growing in the last trimester (3 monthes), so you may feed a heifer 2-3% of her body weight, made up of a good forage and grain, but in the last trimester, only feed 1/2 of 1% of grain and free choice forage, not alfalfa, High Protein. The Post calving bump her back up to 3-4% of her body weight and lots of good quality forage. Different cows may be more efficient than others, so choosing a bull with really low BW EPD's is always best with heifers or cows that have repeatedly had large calves.

Good Luck, Michelle

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