Source: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
- Extremely low temperatures and wind can increase energy requirements 20-50%. Increase feed accordingly.
- Monitor body condition score (BCS). Cows in last trimester of pregnancy should have a body condition score of 3.5-4.0 on a scale from 1 to 5. Body condition is a reflection of cow herd nutritional programs and environment.
- If forage quality is low, consider having a sample analyzed to determine possible supplement needs. Energy, protein, phosphorous, selenium and vitamin A are nutrients likely to be deficient.
- Be sure cow herd has an adequate water supply. Depending on body size and stage of production, cattle need 19-42 litres/head/day, even in the coldest weather.
- Consider weighing replacement heifers to ensure they will reach 70% of their mature weight by breeding season.
- Gather genetic information for the upcoming breeding season – bull test reports, artificial insemination catalogues – and order required semen well in advance of breeding season.
- Visit bull test stations; monitor the performance of bulls on test; speak with breeders – it often pays to shop early.
- Ensure herd bulls are ready for the upcoming breeding season. Proper pre-breeding nutrition is essential to ensure the bull has adequate reserves for a successful breeding season.
- Consider having a semen evaluation performed on herd bulls to prevent surprises come breeding season.
Spring Calving Herds
- If calf-scour vaccine is going to be used, properly time injections. Consult your veterinarian for whole herd health management.
- Consult your veterinarian in regard to pre- and postpartum vaccination schedules.
- Prepare for calving season by assembling supplies (i.e., tags, selenium and Vitamin A, electrolytes, pharmaceuticals for scours and respiratory problems and iodine) and equipment (i.e., calving assistance equipment, oral calf feeder, heat lamps, dehorning and castrating materials) and by preparing calving facilities.
- Separate lactating and gestating cows.
- Keep calving facilities and calf pens well bedded and dry.