Blog > September 2019 > How does your herd score going into fall?

How does your herd score going into fall?

September 16, 2019

Husker football games have started, and the corn is starting to turn colors, getting producers thinking about the fall harvest. Before starting up the combines, I encourage cow owners to take the time and body condition score your cow herds. Making up lost pounds during the cold winter months can be a challenge if not an expensive challenge.  So now is the time to supplement a little extra to those thin cows or 2nd calvers adjusting to motherhood. Invite your feed specialist over to take a drive through the herd to determine an average percentage on body condition, write down your averages as well as weather conditions, take some photos, and act on what needs addressed. These written records become useful each year to see what changes a cow may encounter as well as her offspring that may have been kept for replacement. Keep in mind to look past the hair coat which may be thicker in the winter as well as stage of pregnancy.
Body Condition Scoring (BCS) is a 9-point system used to determine the amount of flesh a cow has. 1 is an extremely thin cow, 5 is an ideal weight, and 9 is obese. The spine, pins, ribs, and tailhead are a few areas to evaluate when scoring. If the number system is overwhelming start with placing cows in the category of thin, moderate, or fleshy. Options for these cows may be to wean calves sooner and give them 45 days to hopefully return back to a normal healthy weight. Economically, 90 days prior to calving is the last time to put some pounds back on a thin cow. If in a time crunch, remove thin and younger cows from the herd to feed separately a higher quality forage.
Cows that are thin during calving will produce less colostrum and calves may have a hard time getting going, leaving room for disease challenges to present. Heifers are only at 85% of their mature weight when calving so I like to see them at a BCS of 6. Economically a BCS of a 7 is not ideal either. These cows may have a shorter postpartum interval but a BCS of 5-6 has shown in studies to bring cows back to estrus in as early as 55 days with a decreased feed cost. 80 days is the estimated amount of time it will take a BCS 3-4 cow to return to estrus in return reducing chances of a maintained 365 day calving interval. Besides cows don’t forget your bulls! Our young bulls worked hard this summer and we are supplementing to get those extra pounds back on and an average of 5.5-6.5 BCS.  Take advantage of supplements such as Hi Fat or Energy tubs, cubes, liquid or a feed program designed by your CVA feed specialist to get your herd prepared for winter.

by Brandi Salestrom
Posted: 9/16/2019 2:08:40 PM by Kristin Petersen | with 0 comments

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