UACES Facebook February Beef Cattle/Forage Tips
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February Beef Cattle/Forage Tips

Tips for spring calving herds, forage management tips


           Tips for Spring Calving Herds:

  • Don’t forget to collect calving records. Records include body condition of the cow at calving, calving difficulty score, calf gender, calf birth weight, and don’t forget to tag calves – records are more valuable when they can be linked back to cow and calf pairs.
  • Make sure adjustments to winter feeding are made for nursing cows. Lactating cows require a 10-11% crude protein and 58-60% TDN diet (MP391).
  • Switch to a high magnesium mineral to help prevent grass tetany when calving cows are grazing spring pastures (FSA3035 and FSA3084).
    • Grass tetany occurs most commonly in the months of February, March, and April.
    • Normally occurs when cool season forages begin to regrow.
    • Grass tetany is due to an abnormally low level of magnesium in the cow’s body.
    • Older lactating cows are more susceptible.
    • Watch closely for calf scours (FSA3083)
      • Calf scours can be a very costly problem for many producers.
      • Calves suffering from scours can become critically ill in a short period of time.
      • Castrate male calves at birth or at 3 months processing. Bull calves are usually discounted $5 per hundred weight. Castration early in life is easier on the calf. Research with calves castrated at birth have grown at similar rate of weight gain compared to their intact male pasture mates. In addition, male calves castrated by stocker producer following salebarn purchase are 2.5 times more likely to become sick than a steer calf purchased through a salebarn market.

 Forage Management Tips:

  • Feed hay to reduce waste by feeding in rings, strip feeding under temporary electric wire, or only unrolling enough for a day or less.
  • Limited grazing of winter annuals will improve animal nutrition, extend hay supplies, and allow use of limited high quality forage.
  • Clover and lespedeza can be overseeded during February into short-grazed fescue pastures. Inoculate seed. Consider strip or stripe seeding in difficult areas. Make sure soil test is good enough for clover.
  • Implement a winter annual weed control program.
  • To promote earlier greenup and grazing of fescue and winter annuals, fertilize specific pastures in February for grazing in March. Other pastures can be fertilized in March for spring. But don’t apply N fertilizer where clovers are overseeded or where good clover stands exist.
  • Start rotationally grazing at greenup. Don’t let cows chase green grass over the entire farm since that will delay significant growth and sustained grazing even longer.
  • Soil sampling of pastures.
    • If you were not able to test soil fertility in fall, do so now to avoid fertility shortfalls once temperatures rise and forage begin to grow at a faster rate. Soil testing is free of charge.
    • Apply burn-down herbicide to dormant bermudagrass.
      • This is very important for keeping bermudagrass pastures clean of broadleaf weeds. Herbicide choice is glyphosate. Adding metsulfuron 60DF at 0.25 oz/A will improve control.
      • Use rates according to the label; do not skimp with rates, the bermudagrass will not be affected if it is still dormant but weeds will be killed reliably.
      • Reapply herbicide if needed. Bermudagrass should not be mowed/grazed for 60 days after glyphosate application, so time herbicide application accordingly.

 For more information on beef cattle production and forages, contact the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service at 425-2335.

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

Media Contact: Mark Keaton
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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