UACES Facebook April Beef/Forage Tips
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April Beef/Forage Tips


Tips for Beef Cattle Herds:

Note: “FSA”s in parenthesis refer to fact sheets available at

  • During the breeding season monitor the activity of each bull. Be sure all bulls are walking properly and checking cows for estrus activity. Sometimes bulls can become lame or injured which could affect their ability to locate and breed cows. Feet, legs, penis, front shoulder, hip and eyes are few areas that can get injured affecting a bull's ability to breed cows.
  • For a fall calving herd, it may be time to vaccinate replacement heifers for brucellosis. The proper age to vaccinate heifers for brucellosis is 4 to 12 months.
  • April is the time of year to deworm cows and calves. The need to control internal parasites will exist as long as cattle are grazing pastures. Young cattle will typically have more internal parasites than older cattle. The effects of internal parasites on cattle will vary with the severity of infection as well as age and stress level of the animal. Therefore, the methods of controlling internal parasites should be developed to fit individual production situations (FSA3045).
  • Keep an eye out for grass tetany. Clinical signs associated with this disease range from slight changes in behavior to death. Early in the disease, cattle affected by grass tetany may show signs such as decreased appetite, decreased milk production, tendency to stay away from the herd, increased alertness and a stiff or unsteady gait. As the disease progresses, cattle may become recumbent and unable to get up. They will exhibit muscle tremors (spasms), protruding third eyelid, increased pulse and respiratory rates and eventually death if untreated. Prevention of grass tetany can be achieved by providing a salt-mineral supplement containing at least 10 percent magnesium.
  • Develop retained ownership and replacement female development plans for spring weaned calves (FSA3076).  Retained ownership on early summer pasture can result in 1.5 to 1.8 lb/d weight gains.  Modest supplementation (0.3 to 0.5% body weight can increase weight by 0.5  lb/d (FSA3099).
  • Cow herd performance testing (FSA3044) is an opportunity to use production data to aid in replacement heifer selection or cull cows that are less productive.  A herd performance test usually involves weighing, frame and muscle scoring calves and weighing and body condition scoring cows. 

Forage Management Tips:

  • Overseed bare spots around hay feeding areas with a desirable grass or legume.
    • The hay feeding area generally is higher in organic matter and soil test P & K than the field. Therefore, providing a good growing media for establishing grasses or legumes.
    • Start rotationally grazing pastures at green-up. Don't let cows chase green grass over the entire farm since that will delay significant growth and sustained grazing even longer.
    • Scout for winter damage in bermudagrass
      • Assessing cold injury can’t be done in the field until the bermudagrass begins breaking dormancy. Very cold-sensitive varieties may suffer complete winterkill whereas others may exhibit slower and later greenup than normal.
      • Some practices that may improve recovery include proper fertility, judicious weed control, and proper grazing or hay harvest.
      • To promote earlier greenup and grazing of bermudagrass, fertilize specific pastures when night time temperatures reach 60°F for a week.  Don't apply N fertilizer where clovers are overseeded or where good clover stands exist already to avoid grass competition.
      • Scout for true army worms in fescue and other cool season grasses.
        • To scout for army worms, examine at least 10 random samples across the field using a one square foot frame constructed of 1/2 or 3/4 PVC pipe.
        • Insecticide treatment is warranted if there are three or more half-grown army worms present per square foot.
        • For control recommendations refer to publication, MP144.
        • Implement a summer annual/perennial weed control program:
          • For identification and control recommendations, refer to MP522, Pasture Weed Control.

For more information contact the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture  Cooperative Extension Service at 425-2335.

By Brad Runsick
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Brad Runsick
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
3 East 9th St. Mountain Home AR 72653
(870) 425-2335


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