Winter is on the way. And with winter comes feeding cattle. This is one of the most costly times of the year, since we do not have any pasture with any nutrient value left for them to consume. Therefore, we are feeding hay and supplements.
Depending on the quality of our hay will determine what we need to supplement it with and how much. Generally our hay is moderate to poorer quality due to the fact that we cannot cut it at prime time; right before it goes into the boot and heads out.
This is especially true about fescue hay. Generally the prime time to cut fescue would be at the end of April or the first of May. That just isn’t happening with our rain at that time.
So, knowing the quality of our forage and hay crop we can feed our heavier cows lighter and poorer quality forage; they do not need the nutrients that our skinnier cattle do. Feed the better quality to them. This is just managing our hay crop and resources we have on our own farms.
Another way to manage winter feeding and cheapen it up is to pregnancy check your cows. If you have any open cows that should be pregnant, cull them. It will cost in the neighborhood of about $1 to $2 per head per day to winter feed a cow. With our winter feeding lasting around four months or 120 days, that adds up to about $120 to $240 per head. By checking the pregnancy status of each animal and knowing it, you have a better idea of what is going to happen in the spring at calving season.
Another way to look at it is if it costs just $3.50 per head to check pregnancy and you check 40 head, which would cost $140. And if you found just one open cow, you could save back the cost of pregnancy examinations on all of your cows by culling her. But if feed is cheap and you want to hold her over and breed her, she could be sold as a bred cow in the spring.
There are three ways you can pregnancy check your cattle, have a veterinarian come and ultrasound them, have your veterinarian come and palpate them or draw blood and have them pregnancy checked that way. Whatever way suits you. There are veterinary practices offering the blood pregnancy tests today.