The hand is better than the eye when it comes to cattle condition



Reproduction is the single most important factor in the productivity of a cow-calf operation. Body condition (amount of fat cover) is a key factor in reproductive success. New research from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine suggests that a body condition score (BCS) of 3.0 is the ideal fat cover for beef cows for several reasons, including:

  • very high pregnancy rates
  • very high percentage will show estrus 30 days after calving
  • high calf weaning weights
  • low abortion and stillbirth rates
  • low risk of severe dystocia

Body condition scoring is a low cost, hands-on method to determine the condition of cattle. This easy hands-on method is much more accurate than just looking at the animals. Continue reading

Based on 2017 calf prices, how much did last summer’s cows in ideal condition earn?



Because cows maintained with an ideal layer of fat cover will have higher reproductive efficiency, they positively impact an operation’s economics. Sorting and feeding groups based on body condition helps avoid over-feeding cows in adequate condition, particularly when only part of the herd needs extra feed.

As the cattle and feed grain markets change, the economic implications of maintaining the right body condition of cows also change. When calf prices move higher, the economic benefit of maintaining the right body condition score (BCS) is larger. Meanwhile, when feed costs are high, the cost of adding condition to cows will be higher. Continue reading

Different approaches/same goal for winter management of heifers

Recognizing replacement and first calf heifers need extra management, producers take different paths to get to the same destination.



Beef producers like Darren Bevans in Alberta, Tyler Fulton in Manitoba and Murray Shaw in southwest Ontario know that replacement and first calf heifers need some extra attention, especially heading into and over winter — the heifers are not only pregnant and about to produce calves, but these young females are still growing themselves.

The “extra attention” doesn’t require over the top management, but just paying attention to feed and weather conditions to ensure heifers maintain a proper body condition to meet the nutritional requirements of the unborn calf as well as to support their own body growth.

In their respective operations, with extended fall and winter grazing programs, Bevans and Fulton manage heifers separate from their main cowherds so that Continue reading

Are those girls in good shape? Raise your beef IQ


beef_cattle_fact6_body_condition_reproduction_2017 600x600 web

The productivity, and by association profitability, of a beef cow largely depends on the amount of fat that she carries. Cows with a body condition score of 3.0 have higher pregnancy rates, heavier and healthier calves, and re-breed sooner than cows with lower body condition scores. They also typically have fewer calving difficulties and increased milk production compared to cows with high body condition scores.

Cows in ideal condition are not only more likely to get bred, they’ll rebreed up to 30 days sooner than thin cows, which means more calves on the ground in the first 21 day cycle. This can add up to 42 extra pounds of weaning weight to these earlier born calves.

Eyeballing body condition is often not accurate, so hands-on scoring is recommended.  Feel for fat cover at the short ribs, spine, hooks and pins and either side of the tail head.

By scoring cows around the calving season, you’ll be able to identify animals with a BCS lower than 3.0 and work to get their condition back up before breeding. Scoring when it’s convenient throughout the year will help you identify which animals are maintaining, gaining or losing condition (despite their deceptive hair coat!) and manage them accordingly.

To calculate the difference between the value of weaned calf crops from cows maintained at different body condition scores, visit:  http://www.beefresearch.ca/research/body-condition-scoring.cfm

Click here to subscribe to the BCRC Blog and receive email notifications when new content is posted.

The sharing or reprinting of BCRC Blog articles is welcome and encouraged. Please provide acknowledgement to the Beef Cattle Research Council, list the website address, www.BeefResearch.ca, and let us know you chose to share the article by emailing us at info@beefresearch.ca.

We welcome your questions, comments and suggestions. Contact us directly or generate public discussion by posting your thoughts below.

5 articles for cow-calf producers heading into fall

With Fall around the corner, it’s a good time to (re)consider a few production practices. These 5 articles are full of ideas, scientific evidence, producer testimonials and interactive calculators. By taking a closer look at their options and potential, you may discover more ways to benefit your herd and bottom line.

Feed cows, not worms

Picture1
Managing internal parasites
Internal parasites can be much more detrimental to your bottom line than you may realize. Effective parasite control can have a greater economic impact on cow calf operations than many other management procedures. To learn more about the options for internal parasite control and how to prevent resistance to dewormers:

  1. Visit www.beefresearch.ca/research-topic.cfm/internal-parasites-50, and
  2. Register for our upcoming webinar on managing internal parasites: www.beefresearch.ca/resources/webinars.cfm

Reduce sickness and sell more pounds
Preconditioning


By spreading out the stressors that normally occur at weaning (change in diet, vaccination, transport, etc.), calves gain more weight per dollar. Does that mean
net profits for cow-calf producers? See for yourself
by Continue reading

How to improve weaning weights, conception rates and calf health: Webinar November 24

Update: Missed the webinar? Find the recording and check for future webinars on our Webinars page: http://www.beefresearch.ca/resources/webinars.cfm

It is clear that the value of a calf crop is related to the number and weight of calves, but you may be very surprised by how much those factors are influenced by the cows’ body condition.

Join this free webinar to learn more about the impact cows’ fat cover has on conception rates, calf health and weaning weights. Our guest speakers will explain how to accurately determine whether cows are under- or over-conditioned, and offer practical tips on how to manage their nutrition accordingly in order to economically increase the value of your calf crop.

When



Tuesday November 24th at 7pm MST

  • 6:00pm in BC
  • 7:00pm in AB
  • 8:00pm in SK and MB
  • 9:00pm in ON and QC
  • 10:00pm in NS, NB and PEI 

Duration

Approximately 1 hour.

Cost

BCRC webinars are available and free of charge thanks to guest speakers who volunteer their time and expertise to support advancements in the Canadian beef industry, and through the Knowledge Dissemination and Technology Transfer project funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster.

Register now


clickheretoregister_BCS

 

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1156073074814546177 Continue reading

Stretching Feed Supplies

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the August 2015 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.


ReynoldAug
Winter feed will be a scarce and costly resource in much of Western Canada this year. Use it carefully, because the management decisions you make now will impact reproductive and economic performance for at least two years.

Research conducted 25 years ago by P.L. Houghton and co-workers at Perdue University (J. An. Sci. 68:1438) demonstrated how energy intake by pregnant and lactating cows impacted their reproductive and calf performance. At the start of the last trimester (early January for cows calving in April), cows were fed in two groups. One group received a maintenance diet (ME) meeting recommended energy intake. The other was fed a low energy diet (LE) providing 70% of recommended energy intake. After calving, each group was split again, with cows receiving either the low energy diet or a high energy diet (HE; 130% of recommended energy intake). Skimping on nutrition in late pregnancy and after calving impacted both Continue reading

New resources added to BodyConditionScoring.ca help cow-calf producers increase profits


cattle feed costs calculator to add body condition
New resources have been added to www.BodyConditionScoring.ca to help cow-calf producers make decisions about managing body condition in their cow herd. Cattle producers know that fat cover plays a crucial role in the reproduction, health and welfare of their animals. These new resources will help guide them when modifying practices on farm to better manage body condition and increase their herds’ productivity and profitability.

The new feed cost calculator gives producers the opportunity to compare the extra expense of adding condition to thin cows in the Fall to the extra value gained by the resulting larger calf crop. The calculator is Continue reading

BodyConditionScoring.ca launches with new tools to help cow-calf producers boost production and profit



NEWS RELEASE

A new webpage offers a fresh look at the importance of monitoring the nutrition of beef cows and the role body condition plays in overall productivity and profit.

“The importance of maintaining cows’ fat cover at an optimal level is underrated,” said Karin Schmid of the Alberta Beef Producers. “Many producers don’t realize how much thin or over-fat cows hurt their bottom lines, and how easy and effective body condition scoring is when figuring out how to adjust rations and keep cows in the right condition.”

The webpage, www.bodyconditionscoring.ca, features an interactive tool which Continue reading

The High Cost of Shortchanging Cows



This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

Last month’s column talked about how cold, snowy winters increase the energy needs of cows, especially when wintered on pasture, and how cows will use their body fat reserves to maintain themselves if the feed doesn’t provide enough energy. Reproductive performance will drop if thin cows don’t recover their body condition.

A 2013 paper published by the Cheryl Waldner and Alvaro García Guerra of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon reported on a two-year study of over 30,000 beef cows from more than 200 herds across Western Canada (Theriogenology 79:1083-1094). Cows were Continue reading