Lush, green pastures are just around the corner, but before you open up the gates to turn cows and heifers out on grass, keep a few of these helpful hints in mind. Find out what the experts recommend in regards to fencing, managing pastures and controlling parasites.
Pasture management tips
Preparing for the spring flush of pasture growth is critical in helping set up a successful grazing season. Below are some areas producers may want to consider in readying themselves for the upcoming growing season.
- Though it is best if soil tests had been taken last fall, they can be performed now and amendments added.
- Remove all of the “old-growth” material by strip-grazing before plant regrowth begins.
- Consult with your nutritionist on minerals (particularly magnesium) to help prevent grass tetany.
- Begin monitoring of pasture growth to start the grazing wedge.
—Stacey A. Hamilton Ph.D., University of Missouri Extension, state dairy specialist
Parasite control tips
Keep in mind that the warm, wet conditions in the spring are ideal for parasite development.
- Plan to deworm cows and heifers just before turnout on pasture, then repeat in three to six weeks.
- Pay attention to pasture management. Overgrazing and overcrowding leads to excessive worm burdens on pasture. Rotating pastures frequently can help keep your pastures clean.
- Deworm before you see any physical signs of unthriftiness. Parasite burdens can lead to immune suppression, decreased milk production and reduced feed efficiency.
- Choose a product specific for the age of cattle you need to treat. For example, avermectin/milbemycin products work well on youngstock. Eprinomectin and moxidectin pour-on products can be used on adult cows as they do not have a meat or milk withholding.
- Rotate dewormers from year to year to help avoid chemical resistance.
- Don’t forget about fly control. Consider hanging a back rub or duster near areas where cattle will come in contact with them frequently.
—Dr. Katie Speller, Animart, professional services veterinarian
Spring fencing tips
- Train all livestock. Make sure they know the fence line with the energizer turned on.
- Be sure ground rods are in a moist area for most effective grounding.
- Early spring is storm season. Be sure to connect surge protectors and lightning diverters to protect your energizer.
- Always have a backup energizer in case you need a replacement.
- Inspect the fence line for bad connections. Rusty, loose-fitting or even corroded connections will cause resistance.
- Walk your fence line looking for faulty insulators, tree limbs and weed load causing electrical shorts.
- Keep a voltmeter on hand. It makes mending fences much easier.
- Make testing the voltage on the fence a daily chore; livestock need to be safe and secure. PD
—Lacy Weimer, Kencove Farm Fence Supplies, product specialist
Photo by Emily Caldwell.