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What’s important during this life stage?

  • Maintaining the cow’s body condition score (BCS)
  • Establishing calf immunity through the consumption of maternal antibodies via quality colostrum
  • Reproductive performance in beef cattle

Common challenges

  • Poor reproductive rates: This could be the result of nutritional deficiencies, particularly of trace minerals, or disease challenges.
  • Forages with high mycotoxin concentrations: Mycotoxins can reduce rumen efficiency in addition to negatively impacting reproduction.
  • Low-quality forages: Examining forage quality is key, as forages with poor digestibility or those that are low in protein can lead to nutrient deficiencies without proper supplementation.
  • Poor colostrum quality: Colostrum is an important source of maternal antibodies and nutrients, which are essential in promoting proper immune development and growth in the newborn calf.
  • Calfhood scours: Scours may be due to failed passive transfer, which is an absence of the transfer of maternal antibodies; it can also be linked to unclean calving areas.

Tips for maximizing health and performance

  • Provide proper nutrition.
    • Ensure that the cows’ diets are not deficient in important nutrients (i.e., protein, energy or minerals), as nutrient requirements change throughout pregnancy.
    • Provide proper supplementation during times of deficiency (e.g., protein or mineral supplementation during the winter months).
    • Keep in mind that mineral supplementation is important for grazing herds, as forages rarely meet the mineral requirements of the cow.
  • Properly manage calving areas.
    • Ensure that calving areas are clean and dry, with plenty of dry bedding available.
    • Don’t overcrowd crowding pens. Overcrowding can lead to calf injury and creates a heavier pathogen load due to the increased amount of manure in the pen.
    • Remove animals from the calving area according to calf age. This prevents older calves from spreading pathogens to younger calves, who have a less robust immune response.
  • Stay up to date on all dam and calf vaccinations
    • Work with your veterinarian to establish a cow and calf vaccination schedule.