Beef cows need good feed after calving because they’re producing milk for their calves and preparing their reproductive systems for rebreeding, reminds Bruce Anderson University of Nebraska Extension forage agronomist.

“Energy requirements increase about 30% and protein needs nearly double after calving,” he says. “Underfeeding reduces the amount of milk she provides her calf, and it can delay or even prevent rebreeding. And if it gets cold, wet or icy again, nutrient demands can skyrocket.”

Each cow needs 10-12% crude protein and 60-65% TDN in her total diet. Winter grass, cornstalks and other crop residues are low in quality now because they’re weathered and have been pretty well picked over. So hay or silage must provide the extra nutrients needed.

Get your forage tested for protein and energy content if you haven’t already, Anderson advises. Also determine the nutrient requirements of your cows, then feed a ration that meets those requirements. But don’t over feed; it’s wasteful and expensive.

“Use good-quality forages to provide adequate nutrition. Your cows will milk well, rebreed on time and produce healthy calves year after year.”