Feed beef cows well after calving. If they’re underfed, their calves' growth will be slow and rebreeding will be delayed, warns Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist.

“Energy requirements increase about 30%, and protein needs nearly double (for cows) after calving,” Anderson says. “And if it gets cold, wet or icy again, nutrient demands can skyrocket.

“Winter grasses, cornstalks and other crop residues are low-quality right now, because these feeds are weathered and have been pretty well picked over. So it is critical that the hay or silage you feed will provide the extra nutrients your cows need.”

Cows require 10-12% crude protein and 60-65% total digestible nutrients (TDN) in a total diet. If they graze poor-quality feeds, the forage specialist says, other forages and supplements must make up any deficiencies.

Producers should make sure their forages contain adequate nutrients. Anderson suggests testing the protein and energy content of forages, then balancing rations that meet cows’ nutritional requirements.

“Your cows will milk well, rebreed on time and produce healthy calves year after year.”

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