2017-12-07 / Editorial Page

Beef Cattle

December and January reminders
By Brian Tankersley Lincoln County Extension Service

The recent colder and frosty con­ditions have reminded beef cattle producers that winter chores are increasing at a steady pace. In our area, cattle with good pasture con­ditions can get along nutritionally for seven to eight months of the year, but during colder conditions feeding cattle becomes a necessity. In addition to winter feeding, there are many other management tasks that need to done in December and January to remain productive and timely. Many Producers in Lincoln County are managing for a 90 day fall calving season during Septem­ber, October, November and De­cember. For these producers there are some reminders for herd nutri­tion, reproductive management and health that need to be a part of the December and January chore list.

Winter grazing management – Producers that plant winter grazing should be sure to manage the cattle so that they do not graze winter an­nuals closer than 4 inches. Over grazing can reduce winter forage production. Be sure to provide a high magnesium mineral for cows that are on winter grazing. Limit­ing the daily time period you graze winter annuals can be an excellent management decision. Two hours of grazing per day and free choice hay stretches your winter annual forages.

For a high percentage of cows to rebreed early, they must be in mod­erate to good condition. You prob­ably need to start grazing or feed­ing your best hay now. Supplement as needed according to forage test results. With average quality hay, a lactating cow needs 4-5 lbs. of whole cottonseed, 1.5 lbs. of cot­tonseed meal plus 2 lbs. of corn or free choice liquid supplement or block plus 2 lbs. of corn. A forage analysis enables you to supplement your cows more precisely. Vitamin A supplementation might be needed if frosted grass or weathered hay is the primary forage source (a 1,000 lb. cow requires 35,000 IU/day).

During breeding season start breeding heifers about a month be­fore the cow herd. Heifers should weigh two thirds of their expected mature weight at breeding. For ex­ample if you expect the heifer to weigh 1000 lbs. at maturity she should weigh between 650-700 lbs. at first breeding. Also remove bulls from heifers around day 60 of the breeding season.

In terms of herd health, be sure to treat cattle for lice if you have not already. Calves need to be castrated and vaccinated. Cattle need to be monitored closely for body condi­tion. In cold, wet weather often found in the winter months in the Southeast, the energy requirements of beef cattle increase 2% for each degree that the wind chill is below 59°F. Provide a small amount of digestible energy supplement along with free choice hay during and af­ter (3 to 5 days) the cold event to decrease energy losses during this time period. For more information about beef cattle management con­tact the Lincoln County Extension office.

Question of the week: When is the best time to prune ornamental trees and shrubs? Answer: Timing of pruning varies with plant spe­cies. Prune at times that best com­plement the growth characteristics, flowering, and other objectives you desire. Many woody ornamentals are pruned according to their date of flowering. For example, spring- flowering plants, such as azaleas, normally are pruned after they bloom. Pruning spring-flowering shrubs during the dormant season will remove flower buds formed the previous fall. Summer-flowering plants generally are pruned during the dormant winter season. If plants are not grown for their flowers, the best time for pruning is during the dormant winter season before new growth begins in the spring.

Return to top