By Truman Lamb
Anderson County Extension Agent
Late Winter and Early feeding period for beef cattle producers can be a very difficult time especially for nutrition of spring calving cattle. If you have run out of hay or feeding hay of low quality that compounds the problem if you are feeding a low-quality hay or dormant standing forage you need to add adequate supplementation.
Keep in mind first calves are at risk of losing more than one condition score, but as long as they calved early, and are gaining condition prior to breeding, they have every chance of getting back in calf early. Read the instructions on your self-fed supplements. They generally are to be fed along with free choice access to adequate quality forages. Our warm season grasses have not begun to grow.
If you happen to have winter pasture and manage it properly you might get along ok, the main objective is to maintain or gain body condition, winter pasture will allow your cattle to gain exposure to protein and energy. So how about the scattered green pickings that are in many pastures now, cattle will certainly forage on those cool season young tender weeds and cool season grasses, these will be high moisture, low energy density grasses and weeds. Keep in mind first calves are at risk of losing more than one condition score, but as long as they calved early and are gaining condition prior to breeding they have every chance of getting back in calf early.
Body condition at the time of calving is the most important factor affecting rebreeding performance of cattle. Cattle should be in a minimum body condition of 5 B/C of 6 plus would be better.
For best results feed a quality hay and supplement or utilize winter pasture if you have it and or use a high energy cube until warm season grasses grow enough to provide energy and protein. Feed now or pay later through a late calf crop next year on some of your cattle.