Body condition scores (BCS) are an excellent means of monitoring the effectiveness of your beef-cow-nutrition program. Here are 10 management tips to help ensure your cows are at a target BCS of 6.0 by calving:
- Late summer – Evaluate your cows while still on grass. If they score thin to borderline moderate during this time and forage availability is still sufficient, provide a balanced protein and energy supplement to improve forage intake and increase forage digestibility.
- Weaning season – Sort cows by body condition and age. Feed according to target body condition scores desired by calving.
- Late lactation (2 months prior to weaning) – Depending upon current forage availability, supplementation and/or a modified weaning strategy may be necessary. Wean thin cows.
- Weaning – Pay particular attention to young cows weaning their first calf and cows beyond their prime age. They are most likely to be thin at this time.
- 100 days before calving-This is the last opportunity to gain body condition and is a good time to separate thin cows from cows in good condition and increase feed to thin cows.
- Calving – Thin cows are an indication that a change in the feeding program is needed.
- Breeding season – If cows are thin, additional supplementation and/or implementation of an early weaning strategy may be necessary.
- Feedstuffs – Always ensure availability of quality feedstuffs containing ample nutrient levels to meet elevated nutrient requirements of cows during important production periods.
- BCS fluctuation – Be aware that cow body condition ebbs and flows over time in relation to productivity and climatic conditions. Try to accurately evaluate the status of your cows’ BCS in relation to future levels necessary for key production periods.
- Supplements – Use supplement programs which correct for nutritional deficiencies and also complement and improve utilization of the base forage.
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