Southeastern beef cows are becoming ill, dying or aborting or giving birth to weak or stillborn calves, reports Dennis Hancock, University of Georgia Extension forage specialist. The reason may be the lack of nutrition from overly mature, low-quality hay produced this past wet summer.

“This issue has been exacerbated by the feeding of supplemental feed sources that do not provide adequate energy, protein, or other nutrients and/or poorly chosen supplements that contain high concentrations of starch or simple sugars (e.g., corn, “lick tanks,” etc.) that cause the bacteria to become less efficient at digesting the forage that is provided,” Hancock warned in his Georgiaforages.com Forage Update email. “This insufficient diet, combined with the exceptionally cold winter, has resulted in numerous cases of malnutrition and/or impacted gastrointestinal tracts that have resulted in death.”

He suggests producers test their forages, take inventories and look around for higher-quality feeds. They should also check their cows’ body conditions, not buy additives designed to increase uptake, consider using a grain or by-product-based supplement with the low-quality forage, winter graze carefully where available and not background calves on poor-quality hay.

For more details, download “Poor Quality Forages Pose Life-Threatening Risk to GA Cow Herds.”

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