May 9, 2019
Here are some of the biggest spring challenges for cattle:
1) Fly control
Flies are especially tricky as spring turns to summer.
One way to combat flies is to use a feed-through fly control mineral for cattle.
Once the cow consumes a fly control mineral, it functions through the manure the cow excretes.
Insect growth regulator (IGR) passes through the cow and into the manure when horn flies lay their eggs.
The IGR then breaks the fly lifecycle in the manure by preventing pupae from developing into biting adult flies.
One of the key to fly control is to start early.
Start to offer fly control mineral for cattle around 30 days before the last frost in the spring.
2) Body condition score (BCS)
One of the big factor in spring breeding success is the cow's BCS.
The target for mature cows to calve should be a BCS of 6.
If cows are not in BCS of 6 at calving, you will be playing catch up which often means too late to impact the current breeding cycle.
The best time to pay attention to BCS is the period from weaning to about 90 days before calving.
3) Grass tetany
Grass tetany in cattle is most frequent during spring time.
However, it is possible to prevent it if you implement strategies to manage the risk.
Feeding magnesium supplement can help to address magnesium deficiencies associated with lush spring grass.
Offer high magnesium mineral 2 - 3 weeks before cattle are first exposed to lush grass.
Continue feeding for 60 days after the first sign of grass growth.
Another strategy is to make grazing less susceptible.
Hold off older, lactating cows off pasture until grasses are 4 - 6 inches tall.
Cows may get excited when there is a bit of green grass during spring.
However, it may not be enough to support the cow's requirement.
Consider providing free choice hay and supplement early until grass is readily available.
Offer the hay early and feed it until cows achieve BCS of 6 at calving.