Updated: Mar 15, 2021
Written by Rick Robbins
Our title is a bit of a misnomer as a production Cow doesn't actually reach the finish line until her reproducing days are completely over. A Rancher's job is to make sure that her finish line doesn't come too early, as in being open next fall.
In our last newsletter blog, we talked about the importance of checking feed stuffs and making sure we provide adequate protein, energy and minerals to maintain Cow body condition during gestation. One of the main goals is to produce a vigorous calf at birth that will stand quickly and consume the colostrum-rich first milk the Cow has to offer. Every minute of delay to that milk decreases the calf's chances of surviving. At the time of this article, we have just come out of the coldest nights that Eastern Colorado has seen in over a decade. Producers have seen Cows that are short in protein and/or energy delivering calves prematurely that have a slim chance of survival (This happens when fetal growth needs outpace protein and energy available for the calf in the womb - 70% of fetal growth happens in the last 90 days of gestation!)
If you have made it through this severe cold spell and have done everything right, you should have a live, healthy calf... now what? In the next 90 to 120 days, the Cow's nutritional requirements will increase as the milk she is producing is providing essential protein, fat (energy) and antibodies to the calf. If additional protein and energy is not supplied for the Cow, her body condition will deteriorate - this is probably the most common cause of Cows not rebreeding. It's natures way of protecting an animal in poor condition. Ranchers cannot afford to keep an open cow and normally will sell that cow and replace it by purchasing a bred cow. Supplying proper protein and energy during this time is crucial to a successful breeding season!
In summary, keeping your herd on an even, steady nutritional plain is the ideal solution to maintain good Cow condition. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate, so it is up to you, your vet and your feed suppliers to provide you with the information and products to successfully get you the results you need.