Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
March 30, 2000

Energy and Herd Health

We have been hearing much about the cost of energy. Regardless of the type of daily involvement, energy is a very essential part of our daily life. The fluctuation in the environmental temperature requires energy of some type to maintain a constant and stable atmosphere. Just maintaining constant body temperature requires energy.

The yearly calendar for the beef herd differs from the calendar we are accustomed to. I prefer to divide the beef herd calendar into 4 overlapping seasons. These are calving 2 months, lactation 7 months, breeding 2 months, and gestation 9 months. Squeezing this 20-month time frame into the 12-month calendar requires fine tuning the nutrition intake of the beef herd. The calving, beginning lactation, and breeding portions are the most important parts of the entire yearly scheme of life. This 4 to 5 month period is the time that nutrition plays a very important role. We all know that the protein requirement nearly doubles after calving because protein is a limiting factor for milk production. Just as important is the energy requirement. Without sufficient energy it is impossible for the beef cow to maintain body condition and maintain the reproduction process.

The lactation portion of the beef herd cycle is nearly double the length of the calving and breeding portions combined, which in turn overlap the gestation portion. Many herds maintain a 60-day calving and 60-day breeding season. This is designed to improve the marketing potential, which generally adds to the profitability of the enterprise. If you are operating on a twelve month calving season, the nutrient requirements become an individual need for each and every animal and are very hard to manage and provide.

Coupled closely with the reproductive process is herd health. It is usually cheaper to prevent herd health problems than to correct them after they occur. This is why I recommend annual vaccinations, which will assist with increasing productivity while reducing infertility, delayed conception, medical treatment and oftentimes death losses. Many feel that it is a waste of time and money to complete this annual process. However, saving one calf will more than pay for the added expense of immunizing your herd. This also provides the opportunity to observe the herd on an individual basis, including the condition of the teeth, udder, feet, and close inspection for the potential for lice. Any time prevention can be utilized it will pay dividends when compared to treatment. In addition to the cost of the treatment, you must factor in animal weight loss, and the time and additional feed required for the recovery process. After the calving season and prior to the breeding season is an excellent time to complete the booster immunization process.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - March 30, 2000
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT033000.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004