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The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies
muddy cows

Profit Robbers

Low winter feed inventories coupled with promised good times ahead may have some cattle producers trying to stretch feeds too far. This is definitely a mistake, but sometimes producers may not realize they are not meeting cow requirements. Certain factors can rob producers of potential profits by causing cow requirements to increase and thus, require more high-priced feed.

A few things to consider when determining if you are meeting cow requirements are:

  • Mature Cow Weights; Cow weights have increased industry wide. In the most recent Angus Journal an article by Sally Northcutt entitled "What does an Angus cow weigh?" showed the average 7 year-old Angus cow weighed 1394 lbs. Do you know how much your cows weigh? If you do not have a scale you can gauge cow weights by the weights of cull cows marketed.
  • Temperature; Winter weather can be quite harsh at times. Cows adapt well to colder weather as long as they are dry. If cows are wet, requirements increase 2% for every degree below 30°. Thus, a cow with a wet hair coat and an outside temperature of 15° would have a 30% increase in requirements. Providing windbreak and shelter helps keep outside conditions from increasing requirements.
  • Mud; I recommend you walk the same path your cows walk. If they are walking through mud of any kind requirements will be increased. Mud that is declaw deep is associated with 7% decrease in feedlot ADG, a 28% decline if mud is hock deep, and a 35% decline if mud is belly deep. Mud is a big-time profit robber.
  • Parasites; internal and external parasites can steal valuable nutrition from cattle. It is a good-practice to delouse and deworm cattle prior to winter feeding.

Take notice of these factors and adjust winter feeding and management to account for these factors. Keeping your cows in good condition and avoiding weight loss will help increase opportunity for profits. Don't let these factors become "profit robbers."

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