This winter's feed, next winter's performance

Nov 08, 2021

What you feed your cows this winter will affect how your calves perform next winter. 

Harvest is rolling along, fall NH3 is soon to start, calves are being weaned, and now is time to start thinking about next year. If you calve in the spring your cows should be in their second trimester. During this time calves are developing muscle and fat. The muscle that develops at this time is all the muscle they will ever have - it will grow in size, but will never add any more. Fat begins to develop now, including fat between the muscle fibers which makes up marbling. A cows nutrition at this point greatly influences how much muscle fiber and fat develops. During the third trimester the calf grows, gaining up to a pound a day. This growth requires extra energy from the cow to sustain this growth. 

Research has shown that calves from cows supplemented with protein and mineral have a better rate of gain and heavier carcass weight. In addition, they were more tender and had better marbling, in contrast calves from supplement restricted mothers had decreased growth and smaller carcass weight. Also, mineral and vitamin restrictions were shown to have a negative effect on development and metabolism making them poor-doing calves. Whether they are on cornstalks, stockpiled forages, or just baled hay, your cows and next year’s calves will benefit from supplemented protein and mineral. 

Smith Fertilizer & Grain has a large selection of tubs and mineral, so stop in or give us a call. We can find the supplement to fit your needs and get next year's calf crop off to a healthy start.