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Formulate a dynamic and profitable nutrition plan 

By Dusty Abney
Beef Technical Specialist/ Cargill Animal Nutrition

Farmers often struggle with formulating a nutrition plan for their cows. Unpredictable factors can come into play, like the weather and markets. The first steps are to know the approximate weight of your cows, your calving dates, and your forage base for a given time of year. 

Nutrition requirements are based on the stage of reproduction in your cows. To create an effective nutrition plan, it’s important to follow a dynamic plan. This means focusing on forage testing and how much your cows consume.  

Dynamic Nutrition Plan 

When forage testing, take various samples that include the pens where the cattle will be placed, and take samples in different seasons or after greenup. The sample results may surprise you, but as rainfall increases or decreases and grazing regimens change, your forage base will change. This also applies to your hay. I strongly advise you to find a trusted adviser to help you put together a cohesive, flexible nutrition plan.  

The forage sample results will show your options for improvement. The goal is to meet the nutrient requirements of your herd (bulls included) without exceeding them or spending too much money.  

The cost of underfeeding or overfeeding your cows may be due to a copper deficiency in your cows. To fix the issue, apply the forage-testing principles and take more samples to see what the grass is providing for your cows. For example, if your cows slip in body condition, recalculate (or ask your trusted adviser) to better understand what shortages caused the issues, and correct them in the most economically efficient manner possible. 

Editor’s Note: To read the full article on creating a dynamic nutrition plan for your cows, click here