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The greatest opportunity for adding body condition is right now.

There are three main reasons why this time of year is perfect for adding body condition to your cows for very little investment.

November 1, 2023

3 Min Read
The greatest opportunity for adding body condition
Photo submitted by Crystalyx

When is the best time to put body condition on your spring-calving beef cows? The answer: as soon as you have weaned your calves. CRYSTALYX® protein supplements can help you take advantage of this perfect time that Mother Nature gives us every year. 

There are three main reasons why now is the perfect time for adding condition to your cows with very little investment:

  1. The cows are no longer lactating. Lactation uses up a lot of a cow’s daily energy (up to around 33% of her total energy intake). The priorities for partitioning energy from the diet in a beef cow are first, for maintenance, then lactation, and then gain. By removing the lactation energy requirement, you immediately make more energy available for gain (increased body condition). 

  2. Maintenance energy is reduced. Maintenance energy requirement changes as temperatures increase or decrease from a cow’s thermal neutral zone, a moving target that is greatly impacted by hair coat, moisture, wind, and more. For the purpose of this article, most would agree that a cow’s maintenance energy requirement will be lower with the temperatures seen in November, versus January. This lower maintenance energy requirement frees up more diet energy for weight gain.

  3. Second versus third trimester.: While the maintenance energy requirements are lower in November versus January due to warmer temperatures, a spring-calving cows will also have lower fetal energy requirements during gestation in the fall (the second trimester). Again, this means more of her daily energy intake can go to weight gain or increases in body condition.

Why act today and not in January, when it is colder?

About 70% of fetal weight gain occurs in the last three months of gestation, making it a challenging time to try to add condition to your cows. Understandably, this is when many cattlemen are paying more attention to their cows, as they are likely feeding them stored forages. More time is also budgeted to pay attention to the herd as calving nears. While trying to add condition at this time of the year is not impossible, it will cost you more than in the fall. So, plan ahead, and put that extra condition on now, before the three-fold opportunity is gone.

While cows will generally gain weight in the fall after weaning, most forages are of poorer quality this time of year. Some of you will be grazing crop stubble, like corn stalks, etc. These low-quality forages will respond significantly to even a small amount of protein supplementation, boosting both digestibility (energy release) and intake (even more energy available to the cow). Many cattlemen refer to this “win-win” situation as stretching their forage.

How much time does this take?

Cattlemen are busy in the fall, and supplementing the cow herd may not be at the top of the priority list. This is understandable, but remember that CYSTALYX® “self-fed” supplements are an excellent way to maximize your returns from a supplement program that is available 24/7. A properly stocked set of CRYSTALYX barrels will generally last about two weeks. This will minimize your time, labor, and equipment investment, while taking care of other priorities. Just set aside part of one day, every two weeks, to restock the CRYSTALYX in your pastures.

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