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Beef Management Tips
Livestock Update, April 2006
John B. Hall, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, Virginia Tech
Spring Calving Herds
- Finish calving
- Check cows 3 to 4 times per day, heifers more often - assist early if needed
- Keep calving area clean and well drained, move healthy pairs out to large pastures 3 days after calving
- Ear tag all calves at birth; castrate and implant male calves in commercial herds
- Give selenium and vitamin A & D injections to newborn calves
- Feed cows extra energy after calving; some protein may be needed also
- Implant calves at turnout if not implanted at birth
- Keep high quality, high magnesium, high selenium minerals available
- All bulls need a breeding soundness exam 30 days before start of breeding season
Fall Calving Herds
- Creep graze calves while on cows
- Give pre-weaning respiratory vaccinations - IBR, PI3, BVD, BRSV, pasturella
- Collect 205 day weights on calves; weigh and body condition score cows
- Wean commercial calves based on marketing plan for calves - many valued added feeder cattle programs require calves to be weaned 45 days
- Re-implant commercial calves - do not implant replacement heifers
- Pregnancy check cows 60 days after bulls were removed
- Continue feeding high magnesium minerals to prevent grass tetany
Pastures and Forages
- Fertilize pastures and hay fields according to test
- Begin managed intensive grazing
- Check hay making equipment
Grazing Management Important During Dry Spring
This spring in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic appears to be an unusually dry one. Grazing management in early and mid spring is not something we usually worry about. Warm days, cool nights and plentiful rainfall usually make too much grass the problem; not too little. However, allowing cattle to graze early spring pastures too short could mean trouble this dry spring.
When pastures are grazed to shorter than four inches, it creates conditions that magnify the impact of dry weather on grass growth. Grazing below four inches removes too much leaf area so regrowth is slowed or stunted. In addition, removing this much leaf area allows the ground to be exposed to the drying actions of sun and wind. This exposure exacerbates the drought conditions.
Feeding and grazing strategies include rapid rotational grazing and supplementation. Rapid rotational grazing allows cattle to graze the pastures down to four inches then they are moved to the next pasture. If pasture recovery and regrowth are not sufficient by the time the cattle come back to the pasture then they should be supplemented. Periodic hay feeding and grain supplementation on a sacrifice pasture will increase season long grazing productivity and health of the remaining pastures.
Virginia Cooperative Extension