Saturday, February 22, 2014

With Cattle Market Strong, Make Sure Your Cows Do Not Run Out Of Gas

Contact: Eldon Cole, livestock specialist
Headquartered in Lawrence County
Tel: (417) 466-3102

MT. VERNON, Mo. – Some southwest Missouri cattle producers have begun seeing death loss among cows, lower than normal conception rates and health issues among calves and yearlings.

“We’ve been getting a lot of questions at the Lawrence County Extension Center,” said Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension. “One factor to be considered with all those concerns is the body condition of the cattle that are involved.”

According to Cole, the extreme cold has been hard on the cattle to the point they likely have been losing body weight.  Feed intake has not been sufficient to meet their daily nutrient needs.

“Hay tests and general observations in 2013 were that hay quality was below normal going into the winter.  If you put those two items together it could spell trouble,” said Cole.

As one farmer put it, his “cows just looked like they’d run out of gas.”

Several hay samples taken recently have total digestible nutrient (TDN) levels between 45 and 50%.  Those might be acceptable for fleshy, body condition score cows in the 6 plus range.

“Lactating cows and first-calf heifers need a much higher quality hay that’s in the mid to upper 50 range in TDN.  Some will also need added protein above what they may be receiving from self-fed supplements,” said Cole.

Stockpiled fescue, which is normally relied on as forage that is better than hay, has also been affected by the prolonged covering of ice and snow.

“As we move into the busiest part of calving season, there’s a need to feed more energy, vitamin A and some extra protein to cows calving now.  With the cattle market strong, it’s time to keep the cows and yearlings from running out of gas,” said Cole.

For more details on possible supplement needs in your herd, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102, Andy McCorkill in Dallas County at (417) 345-7551, Dr. Patrick Davis in Cedar County at (417) 276-3313 or Logan Wallace in Howell County at (417) 256-2391.

“Your livestock specialist can help assess your cattle’s nutrient requirement and help determine the quality of your feed and how it could be economically supplemented,” said Cole.

For 100 years, MU Extension has engaged Missourians in relevant programs based on University of Missouri research. The year 2014
marks the centennial of the Smith-Lever Act, which formalized the Cooperative Agricultural Extension Service, a national network whose purpose is to extend university-based knowledge beyond the campus.

University of Missouri Extension programs focus on the high-priority needs of Missourians. Each county extension center, with oversight by locally elected and appointed citizens, is your local link to practical education on almost anything. More information on this topic is available online at


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