red cow and calf in dry pasture
DRY STRATEGY: Early weaning when pastures are dry will help save forage without affecting cow condition.

Drought strategy: Wean calves early and save 25%

Cows without calves will eat less grass than cows with calves and maintain body condition.

Data gathered at the North Dakota State University Dickinson Research and Education Center indicates that weaning calves in August will help you save forage when it is dry and improve the condition of the cows compared to weaning calves in November.

At the center, the average weight of cows whose calves were weaned in mid-August was 1,296 pounds in August and 1,311 pounds in November. They gained 15 pounds from August to November and had an average body score of 6.1.

Cows with calves that weren’t weaned until November weighed an average of 1,333 pounds in August and 1,197 pounds in November. They lost 136 pounds from August to November and had an average body score of 4.7.

The center’s livestock specialists determined that the cows without calves consumed 28% less forage from August to November than cows with calves.

The early-weaned calves weighed just 400 pounds. “A 400-pound calf has tremendous potential to grow once feed is located and appropriate arrangements made,” says Kris Ringwall, NDSU beef specialist and director of the center. “The question of selling the calf or retaining ownership needs to be asked.”

Source: NDSU Extension Service

TAGS: Forage
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