Make Your Winter-Prep List, Check It Twice

November weather can make the most prepared beef producers shiver

Published on: Nov 28, 2013

November is a good time for beef producers to assess their pastures and facilities and take care of some routine tasks to prepare their cattle operations for winter, suggests Ron Lemenager, a Purdue University extension specialist.

Cattle are healthier, have more successful pregnancies and have better rates of gain when they have access to quality nutrition and facilities during the cold winter months, he adds.

One of Lemenager's first recommendations is to assess pastures and hay fields and have forages analyzed as soon as possible. Once producers know what they have in terms of forage, they can start to plan their supplemental feeding strategies based on animal protein and energy needs.

November weather can make the most prepared beef producers shiver
November weather can make the most prepared beef producers shiver

Common supplements include corn and grain byproducts, such as soybean hulls, corn gluten feed and distiller's grains.

"The market's somewhat lower now, and it's a good time to start checking supplement prices," Lemenager said.

While corn might be an economical energy supplement this year, Lemenager said producers need to compare prices and evaluate energy requirements for their herds before deciding.

"Beef producers should ensure there are adequate minerals and vitamins in the diet by providing a high quality vitamin-mineral mix," he said. "Minerals are especially important to immune function and reproduction."

Fall-calving herds are approaching breeding season, which means producers should have their bulls examined for reproductive soundness. Those exams should be conducted as early as possible so bulls that fail have time to recover, and producers have time to replace them when necessary.

If producers plan to synchronize estrus cycles in their cows and heifers, it's also time to get those programs started.