Sandy Johnson – Body Condition

(Sandy) My name is Sandy Johnson. I’m an Extension Beef Specialist with K-State Research and Extension located in Colby. One thing I really want spring calving producers to think about this time of year is thinking about body condition score of cows and weaning. Now some people have a traditional weaning date and that’s all. They have a tradition that’s hard to break. But I would like to encourage people to think about weaning as a management opportunity for the cow. To manage her body condition. If we have some cool season grasses, we’ve had a little rain, maybe conditioning is staying on those cows this time of year. Other times, other places we don’t have the forage quality. As they start to lose that body condition and then of course our temperatures are gonna gradually get colder, and colder and what we don’t want is to have a cow that’s starting in third trimester of pregnancy and that’s when her nutrient requirements really take off, we’ve just barely weaned her, she’s thin and now we have winter colder weather coming on. So, we’ve got this great uphill battle to get her in a decent condition at calving which we say is probably a five for mature cow at calving. So that she’ll rebreed timely. Well, if you start doing the math particularly with the young cow for how much nutrition it really takes to change her body condition, it takes pretty good feed stuffs. But if we do it when her nutrient requirements are low which they are mid-gestation, nice weather, she can regain condition very easily. And she holds that condition through the winter much better than if she’s thin going into it. So we really have an opportunity to manage reproduction and our outcomes for quite some time by making good choices in the fall, managing the body condition of those cows. And so…some people think well we’ll bring them in after calving and we’re gonna feed ’em up. Well again, we find that typically people just don’t have the quality of feed stuff to do that most the time. Now you can. I don’t want to say that you can’t. But it’s very difficult and we’ve bred so much milk into these cows what they really do is just milk more and it’s harder to get to this point where we’re putting condition back on that cow. And so a good way to set yourself up for next year to get these cows rebred timely is thinking about when you wean this fall and don’t let those cows get too thin, particularly those young cows. And there’s no weaning police that says you have to wean your calves at this particular day and sell them on this particular day. You as a manager should make those decisions. And weaning should be used as a management tool to help you manage the cow herd throughout the year.

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