Thursday, October 22, 2009

Open Cows Need Special Attention if Livestock Operation is to Make Money

By David Burton
University Extension

Weaning time is underway in southern Missouri for calves born in the winter to early spring season according to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
Accompanying the calf removal process, top managers scrutinize the cows and make decisions to improve their herd and its overall profitability.
“One key decision is to determine if the cows have bred back,” said Cole. “Although pregnancy testing normally is done by a veterinarian,”
Cows that did not settle in time to fit the 2010 calving season require some thought by the owner.
Did they not breed because of problems beyond their control? Was it due to her late calving and prompt bull removal after a 60 day breeding season? It might have been a disease or an injury? Fescue toxicity/heat related problems may have caused them to lose their pregnancies. It’s even possible it was a bull problem.
“Regardless of the cause, open cows need special attention. Older cows in the twilight of their career need to be sold for beef and not breeding purposes. Even that 4-H or FFA project or favorite cow may need to move on,” said Cole.
Cull cows can be kept on good pasture with some concentrate feed for a couple of months and gain efficiently. The big advantage of caring for the open-cull cow two to three months is the cow market trends up after the large runs in the fall.
“Open cows that are young to middle age, in healthy condition may be converted to fall calvers especially if feed is abundant as it is this fall,” said Cole.
A bred female should be worth considerably more next summer than she is now as an open cow.
“Once again be sure you have the feed available to properly care for them and that they do not have physical problems,” said Cole.
According to Cole, a few of the sure-fire reasons to load the culls up and sell for harvest include: consistently weans a poor calf; is crazy, hard-to-handle and a bad influence on the rest of the herd; soundness problems such as feet, mouth, eyes and udder.
For more information, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102; Gary Naylor in Dallas County, (417) 345-7551; and Dona Goede in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.

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