In the summer months, cattle will consume approximately 2 gallons of water per hundred pounds of bodyweight. If water has to be delivered, be cognizant of increased intake.
In addition to heat stress, August is often one of the peak months for horn and face flies. Work with your veterinarian to ensure flies are kept to a minimum, as production losses resulting from external parasites (predominantly flies) exceeds $2 billion annually.
Take the time to evaluate winter feed stocks and make a forage budget. If your budget is short, consider buying forages now before prices go up over the winter months. It is not too late to implement cover crops in many parts of the Midwest.
Work with your local extension agent to determine best cover-crop varieties and seeding methods to maximize success.
For a large majority of readers, weaning time is near – or here already. Be sure your vaccination and pre-conditioning program is in place. If possible, vaccinate three to four weeks in advance of weaning to reduce stress on calves. Also, consider implementing a low-stress weaning environment such as fenceline weaning.
Research has shown increased weight gain and decreased vocalization using this method.
Take the time to body condition score cows and, if feasible, get individual weights on both cows and calves. Cow weights and body condition scores collected now will allow you to more accurately implement your nutrition program heading into winter. Remember, most producers underestimate the true weight of their cows. In addition, utilize these data to identify cows that are underperforming and cull them from the herd.
Schedule pregnancy exams early. As feed costs and fertility are the two primary determining factors of profitability, the earlier you identify non-pregnant cows, the quicker they can be off the feed bill.
Many fall-calving herds may have a few calves on the ground already. Excessive heat can lead to lethargic calves at birth. Be sure you have colostrum replacers, supplements and electrolytes on hand and ready to use.
Identify replacement heifers. Utilize a combination of tools including EPDs, dam performance, individual performance – and do not forget about phenotype. To promote improved fertility and longevity, restrict replacement pool to females born early in the calving season.
Take a moment to reflect on your goals and objectives for your fall-calving herd. Begin to identify A.I. and natural-service sires that complement your cow herd and better allow you to meet you marketing goals. In commercial herds, consider a cross-breeding system to maximize the power of heterosis.
As always, consult with the team of experts you have assembled, including your beef extension specialist, nutritionist and herd health veterinarian.
- Cow-calf specialist
- Iowa State University
- Email Patrick Gunn