Archive for February 6th, 2020

10 Daily Tips for Your Show Cattle

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

10 Daily Tips for Your Show CattleWhen you want to be successful at sports, you don’t just show up for games and expect to win.
You attend team practices, you practice at home and you follow the game plan outlined by the coach. The same concept applies to showing cattle. You prepare for the ‘game’ through daily animal care, grooming and seeking guidance from the pros or a ‘coach.’ You follow that game plan right up until show day.

Bob May, Purina® Honor® Show Chow® Ambassador from Mineral Point, Wis., uses an intense and individualized game plan for each of his cattle.

“Success in the showring starts with the cattle’s conformation, but is achieved with consistent hard work and daily care to get the cattle where they need to be at the show,” says May.

The calf may be the star athlete, but even the best athletes don’t perform well without proper daily training, management and a supportive team behind them.

May suggests the following daily care tips to help take your show project to the next level:

1. Involve a veterinarian. Before an animal arrives at your farm, have a plan in place through your veterinarian for health and vaccination protocols. Ask the prior owner for a full health history on the animal, so you can have all of the animal’s health information at hand.

2. Earn the animal’s trust. A show calf needs to trust you, and trust comes in the form of working with the animal on a daily basis. It may be a long, slow process, but it’s one that’s essential to form a partnership with your project animal.

3. Have a consistent feeding routine. May suggests feeding individually at the same time each day. Cattle crave consistency, and when they are fed inconsistently they might also eat inconsistently. May also emphasizes that calves may eat better when they eat in a group setting. To make this possible, he will place individual calves in different runs nose-to-nose and feed them at the same time to mimic feeding in a group.

4. Monitor feed intake. Monitor what your animal is consuming at each feeding, and clean out old feed immediately. May has seen cases where new feed is simply dumped on top of old feed.

“You can quickly lose track of how much feed your calf is actually consuming,” explains May. “You think they are getting 15 pounds at night, and they are actually getting 18 because someone didn’t clean out the old feed from the morning.”

5. Ensure water availability and quality. Animals should have access to clean, cool water at all times. This basic animal care tip is sometimes overlooked, according to May.

“We clean our water tanks frequently,” May says. “Clean, cool water will keep cattle drinking and eating in those hot summer months when consumption usually drops off.”

6. Keep pens and cooler rooms clean. May mentions a good rule of thumb is if it smells or looks wet or dirty – clean it. A clean pen or cooler room will make grooming and daily care of the animal easier for both the animal and the exhibitor.

“If you don’t want to be in those pens or cooler rooms because of the smell, then the animal doesn’t want to be either,” he explains. “Cooler rooms do not equate to hair growth. Cleanliness is most important for hair growth.”

7. Learn the hair cycles. Hair grows in 90-day cycles, and this knowledge can help you determine what stage an animal’s hair will be in (or you want to be in) as you arrive at your show date. For example, for a show in August, May’s goal is to have all the old hair removed by the middle of May.

May doesn’t shear off any of his calves, but recognizes this is a standard practice for some breeds. Instead, he relies on a shedding comb to bust through and remove old hair. The shedding comb works best when hair is dirty and dusty, not wet or caked with manure.

8. Practice, practice, practice. May has his own children show their animals in competition at least twice before heading to their target show. This allows the animals and exhibitors to shake their ‘first-time jitters.’

“Specifically at the county fair level, it may be the first and only time both the kids and the cattle have seen the showring,” he explains. “And usually, that is not a good experience for the exhibitor or the animal.”

9. Find a hoof trimmer you can trust. May encourages all exhibitors to seek an expert in hoof care and recommends networking with other show enthusiasts to find a good trimmer in your area. Unlike clipping and fitting, there is little room for practice on hooves.

“Find a good hoof trimmer that will do a little trimming on the top, but does most of the work underneath the hoof,” he says. “A bad hoof trimming can result in disaster.”

10. Stick to the game plan. Have a management plan. Identify important dates before the show, and execute your plan daily.

“If you don’t focus on the management, other exhibitors will,” explains May. “And quite simply, if you don’t focus – those that do will beat you. They will be better prepared.”

For more management tips join the online community of show enthusiasts at www.facebook.com/HonorShowChow or at www.twitter.com/HonorShowChow.

Article Attributed to Purina Animal Nutrition

Managing and Feeding Cattle in Winter

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

Managing and feeding cattle in winter can be tricky. Maybe you can’t tell the difference between 15 and 32 degrees F after spending a few minutes outside, but your cattle can. Slight changes in temperature can have a considerable impact on energy and cow nutritional requirements.Cold stress occurs when cattle require more energy to sustain basic bodily functions at a specific temperature, called the lower critical temperature (LCT). The LCT helps us understand when cows start experiencing cold stress. See the chart to the right for LCT broken down by hair coat. As temperatures decrease, cow nutritional requirements increase. Add in precipitation or wind and requirements increase even more.

If cows are shorted on nutrition during cold stress, it can have a domino effect on performance.

Nutritional deficiency resulting from cold stress can lead to cows producing lighter and weaker calves. Low-quality colostrum and later return to estrus in the breeding season

Lower Critical Temperature (LCT) broken down by hair coat for cattle. can also result, compromising conception rates and weaning weights.
Strategies for managing and feeding cattle in the winter can help alleviate cold stress and support cow nutritional requirements.

How can you mitigate cold stress?

Cold stress mitigation should start with keeping cattle warm. Offering protection from the elements like bedding, windbreaks, snow breaks and a place to get out of the mud can all help keep cattle warm and dry. Protecting cattle from wind, rain, and snow isn’t always enough, however.

Snow often reminds us to think about cow nutritional requirements and supplementation options. But what if the snow never falls? Temperature is the underlying factor in cold stress.

When feeding cattle in winter, provide them with nutrition to meet their needs during cold stress. Plan out feeding strategies early, before cow body condition scores start to slip, to help your cows weather cold temperatures.

Know your forages.

Feeding cattle stored forage can be challenging. Testing forages gives you a better understanding of what you’re feeding cattle in winter when temperatures drop.

Testing total digestible nutrients (TDN) will provide an estimate of the total amount of nutrients that could be digested by the animal. The greater the TDN value, the more energy cattle get from forages.

Forage intake is another consideration. Cows will likely spend less time grazing as temperatures decline. Less grazing time results in reduced forage intake which makes it challenging to meet cow energy requirements. Feeding cattle in winter with low-quality hay might not be enough to offset reduced forage intake.

Once you know forage nutritional value and assess intake levels, monitor cow body condition score (BCS) and temperature to identify cow energy requirements.

Evaluate cow nutritional requirements.

A cow’s energy requirement, or TDN, increases by 1% for every degree below the LCT as a rule of thumb.

However, cow body condition scores impact nutritional requirements. A cow in a BCS 5 needs 30% more energy to maintain body condition than a cow in a BCS 6 at 32 degrees. The same principle holds true as BCS decreases below 5.

A third trimester 1300-pound cow requires 13 pounds of TDN at 32 degrees. However, at 0 degrees the same cow needs an additional 4 pounds or roughly 17 pounds of TDN. For comparison, the temperature drop means the same cow now requires 8 more pounds of 50% TDN hay.

When feeding cattle in winter, consider a high-quality supplement to help fill a cow’s energy gap while helping cows get the most out of existing forages.

Purina® Accuration® supplements are a great option to provide additional energy, balance forage nutrient deficiencies and support performance.

Elizabeth Backes, Ph.D.

Nutritionist, Beef Technical Solutions

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