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Ag Notes: Timely tips for your beef cattle herds

By JERRY LITTLE

Contributing Writer

Here are tips for taking care of your beef cattle herds:

Spring-calving cow herd

Remove bulls from the cow herd by the end of the month and keep them away from the cows. A short calving season can concentrate labor during the calving season; group calves by age so that it is easier to find a convenient time to vaccinate, castrate, dehorn, etc.; and provide a more uniform group of calves at market time.

Mid-July, when the bulls are being removed, is a good time to deworm cattle. Re-implant calves which were implanted at birth if the type of implant and amount of time indicate. Calves which haven’t been vaccinated for blackleg should be. Spraying or using a pour-on for flies while cattle are gathered can supplement other fly control methods. Remember to work cattle early in the morning when it is cool and handle them gently to minimize stress.

Watch for pink eye and treat if necessary. Minimize problems by clipping pastures, controlling face flies and providing shade. Monitor the bulls’ activity and physical condition as the breeding season winds down.

Fescue pastures tend to go dormant in July and August, so look for alternatives like warm season grasses during this period of time. Try to keep the young calves gaining weight. Go to pastures which have been cut for hay to have higher quality re-growth when it is available.

Consider cutting warm season grass pastures for hay, if reserves have not been restored yet.

Fall-calving cow herd

De-worm cows in mid-July.

Fall-calving cows should be dry and pregnant now. Their nutrient needs are minimal and they can be maintained on poor pasture to avoid over-fattening. Keep a good free-choice mineral mix available at all times. You can use a lower phosphorus mineral supplement now, if you want to save a little money. These cows are regaining body condition after a long winter feeding period.

Get ready for fall calving and plan to have good pasture available at calving and through the breeding season.

Stockers

Sell heavier grazing cattle before the rate of gain decreases or they get into a heavyweight category. This will also relieve grazing pressure as pasture growth diminishes. They can be replaced with lightweight calves after pastures recover.

Lighter cattle kept on pasture need to be rotated to grass-legume or warm-season grass pastures to maintain a desirable level of performance. Re-implant these calves and deworm.

In general

Check pastures for downed wild cherry trees after storms (wilted wild cherry leaves are toxic to cattle).

Be sure that clean water is always available, especially in hot weather. Make routine checks of the water supply. Cattle need 13 to 20 gallons of clean water in hot weather.  Cattle should h ave access to shade.

Maintain a weed control program in permanent pastures and continue to “spot-spray” thistle, honey locust, etc.

Have forage analyses conducted on spring-cut hay and have large, round bales covered. Begin planning the winter feeding program now. Most of the hay was cut late due to a wet spring.

Start soil testing pastures to determine fertilization needs for this fall.

Jerry Little is the Boyle County extension agent for Agriculture/Natural Resources.