Management Calendar for North Carolina Producers

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1 Management Calendar for North Carolina Producers Profitability of your cow herd depends on good planning and appropriate timing of major herd activities. The calendar in this fact sheet offers timelines for both spring (January through March) and fall (October through December) calving. Planning activities based on the appropriate timeline will help prevent a prolonged calving season, decreased conception rates, and lowered profitability. When the timelines do not correspond to your calving season, adjust the practices outlined for your herd. Record your monthly management practices in the table at the end of this publication. Distributed in furtherance of the acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating. Each Month Consult the Cow Herd Management Calendar and implement herd health practices suggested for the month. Provide clean, adequate water for your herd and free access to a high quality mineral supplement. Make sure you use a high magnesium supplement when there is potential for grass tetany. Check cattle for health disorders including pinkeye, foot rot, etc. Treat at the first sign of these disorders. Check fences and facilities. Check forage availability. If limited, consider feeding hay in a confined area. Body condition score all cattle. During Calving Move bred heifers to calving area 10 days before calving expected. Check mature cows two to four times a day and heifers more frequently during calving season. Check heifers every 3 to 4 hours after calving starts. Assist with delivery if no progress is seen no more than 1 hour after the water bag is visible. Dip navel in iodine or chlorhexidine and tag calves at birth. Record birth dates, calf tag numbers, cow ID. Help newborn calf nurse, if needed. Castrate and implant bull calves at birth if possible. Observe calves for scours and respiratory problems. Observe cows for uterine prolapse and retained placenta. Move pairs to clean pastures as soon as possible after calving. Drench calves dehydrated by scours with electrolytes, and treat with sulfa or antibiotics as recommended by your veterinaian. Mark cows having calving difficulty or udder problems for early culling. ag655_1.indd 1 8/15/2006 2:23:51 PM

2 January Attend a cow/calf management, feeding and marketing educational program. Call your Extension Center to learn when a program is being offered in your area. Body condition score entire herd. Cows should calve in BCS 5 and firstcalf-heifers in BCS 6. BCS should be at least 5 at the start of breeding season. Vaccinate pregnant yearling heifers with enterotoxemia C & D toxoid if enterotoxemia has been a problem and with Scours vaccine if calf scours has been a problem. Consult your veterinarian. Treat for lice. Cows should be treated twice 2 to 3 weeks apart during late December and early January. Gather, replenish, and clean your calving supplies. Be ready to assist with calving difficulties and dip navels at birth. Castrate and implant bull calves at birth if possible. Keep yearling heifers gaining weight. They need to weigh about two-thirds of mature weight at breeding. Turn bulls in with heifers 3 weeks earlier than with cows. Turnout will be sometime between April 1 and June 20,depending on desired calving dates. Evaluate bulls, trim feet, line up breeding soundness exams, and decide on buying new bulls. Order calf and cow vaccines. Prepare calving pasture. Generally a clean, sodded area is best. Feed cows a ration developed for last third of gestation. Generally, medium quality hay or stockpiled fescue will suffice. Feed bulls same ration as cows, but allow them feed to appetite. If a bull is too thin, add some grain. Breed cows. Cows bred January 1 should calve October 13. Be prepared to remove bulls after a 45- to 90-day breeding season. Spot check heifers to see if they are breeding. Remove bull from heifers after a 45- to 60-day breeding season. Cows need to be in moderate to good condition to rebreed. Maintain a BCS of 5.0 Make final selection of replacement heifers. Market cull replacement heifers. Evaluate profit potential for creep feeding. Use your best feeds now. With average quality hay, a lactating cow needs 4 to 5 pounds of whole cottonseed, 1 1/2 pounds of cottonseed meal plus 2 pounds of corn or free choice liquid supplement or block plus 2 pounds of corn. A forage analysis permits you to supplement your cows more precisely. Limit grazing on winter annuals. Two hours of grazing per day and free choice hay stretches grazing and is a substitute for concentrate supplements. Vaccinate calves over 3 months old with clostridial vaccines (black-leg). Check with your local veterinarian about other disease problems in your area. February Make sure bulls are in good condition for breeding. Trim feet, conduct breeding soundness exams, and provide additional feed if needed to improve body condition to 6.0. Purchase additional bulls if needed so that you have a bull:cow ratio of 1:25. Watch heifers closely and provide assistance with calving as needed. Castrate bull calves if not castrated at birth, and dehorn as needed. Implant calves. Steers that were implanted at birth can be re-implanted at 3 to 6 months of age. (Synovex-C and Ralgro are approved for use in replacement heifers. Follow label instructions.) Check on the condition of bulls during breeding season. Provide supplemental feed as needed. Remove bulls from heifers after a 45- to 60- day breeding season. Spot check to make sure cows are settling. Breed yearling heifers beginning 3 weeks before cows. 2 ag655_1.indd 2 8/15/2006 2:23:51 PM

3 March Monitor mineral intake and make sure cows are eating prescribed amount (usually 4 oz./cow daily). For a January 10 through March 30 calving season, bulls need to be with cows from April 1 to June 20. Make sure bulls are in good condition, and conduct breeding soundness exams. Cows need to be in moderate to good condition to rebreed early. You may need to start feeding your best hay and put them on your best grazing now. Supplement as needed according to forage test, to maintain body condition of at least 5.0. Start breeding heifers about three weeks before the cows. Follow calving season management practices as for heifers previous month. Switch heifers to lactation ration 10 to 15 days after calving. Remove bulls after a 45- to 90-day breeding period. Keep bulls in a small pasture with strong fences. Feed bulls enough to keep them in good condition for next year s breeding. Spot check cows to see if most are bred. By now, there should be little activity. Vaccinate for clostridial disease, castrate and dehorn late calves or those missed in early working. Watch cows for heat. By now, there should be little activity. Remove bulls from heifers after 45 to 60 days. Sell cows that failed to produce a live calf. April Start watching for flies. Order fly control products to be ready when treatment warrants. Consider the type tags or sprays used last year. Change from organophosphate to pyrethroid or vice versa. Use spray or back rubs early, and delay tag application as late as possible. Use all outside stores of hay; clean out hay storage areas for new hay. Monitor mineral intake and watch closely for grass tetany. Plan for winter feed supply. For calving to begin around January 1, bulls need to go into pastures on March 21. Check condition of bulls during the breeding season. Provide supplemental feed if needed. Bulls should be in BCS of 6.0 when turned in with the cows. Be prepared to remove bulls from mature cows after a 45- to 90-day breeding season. Watch heifers for heat to see if they are breeding. Remove bull from heifers after a 45- to 60-day breeding season. Cows need to be in moderate to good condition to rebreed. Provide supplemental feed if spring pastures are slow to grow. Maintain BCS of 5.0. Make final selection of replacement heifers. Market culled heifers. Evaluate profit potential for creep feeding. Prepare weaning pen for calf weaning, and plan feeding program. Calves should usually be weaned at 7 to 8 months of age. To precondition for shipment, calves should be weaned and vaccinated for respiratory diseases 45 days prior to shipment. Ask your veterinarian for product recommendations, and order vaccines. Tattoo or otherwise establish permanent IDs for bred heifers. Consider creep feeding, depending on pasture conditions and marketing plans. Pregnancy check 45 to 60 days after the end of the breeding season or at weaning. Sell open heifers now or consider finishing them for freezer beef. 3 ag655_1.indd 3 8/15/2006 2:23:51 PM

4 May Clip or use chemicals to control pasture weeds. Use spray or back rubs early, and delay tag application as late as possible. Monitor mineral intake and watch for grass tetany. Vaccinate calves more than 3 months old for clostridial diseases (7-way blackleg). Castrate and dehorn any calves missed at birth. Implant calves. Calves that were implanted at birth may be reimplanted after 90 days according to the product label. Check condition of bulls during breeding season. Provide supplemental feed, if needed. Wean calves if not weaned in April. Pregnancy check cows when calves are weaned. Sell open cows if they are in BCS of 5.0 or better. Otherwise, put them on good pasture and plan marketing date. Check cows for bad eyes, udders, legs and check production records to identify other cows that need to be added to the cull list. Spot check to make sure cows are settling. Wean calves not weaned earlier. Deworm calves at weaning. Cull open and poor producing cows after weaning. June Put hay in barn, or move round bales to dry, well-drained areas, elevate them on tires or pallets, and cover them. Clip overgrown pastures. Continue fly control program. Body condition score all females. Spot check cows to see if most are bred. By now, there should be little activity. Remove bulls after a 45- to 90-day breeding period. Put bulls in a small pasture with strong fences. Thin young bulls may need a little supplemental feed. Vaccinate for clostridial diseases, and castrate and dehorn late calves or those missed in earlier working. Remove bulls from heifers after 45 to 60 days. Sell cows that failed to produce a live calf. Feed weaned calves to gain from 1.5 to 2.5 lbs/day depending on marketing plans. This should be done by grazing on high quality pasture with 0.5 to 1.0 percent of body weight concentrate. Select replacement heifers based on weaning weights, frame score, temperament, etc. Use weights to project needed gain between now and breeding. Consider options for selling weaned calves, back-grounding or maintaining ownership through the feedlot. Deworm calves at weaning. For late calves (weaning in late July or August), consider creep feeding and vaccination for respiratory diseases 45 days prior to weaning. Pregnancy check heifers; sell open heifers. Market cull cows that are in good condition. Feed thin cull cows to improve condition and sell them September 1. 4 ag655_1.indd 4

5 July Check water often. Plenty of clear water is critical in summer. At 90 F, a mature cow nursing a calf drinks about 17 gallons of water a day. Consider creep feeding, depending on pasture conditions and marketing plans. Pregnancy check cows and heifers 45 to 60 days after the end of the breeding season. Sell open heifers now or consider finishing them for freezer beef. Tattoo or otherwise establish permanent IDs for bred heifers. Prepare weaning pen for calf weaning. Calves should be weaned at 7 to 8 months of age. Select replacement heifers. Weigh heifers to project needed gain between now and breeding in December. Deworm calves at weaning. Cull open and poor producing cows after weaning. Heifers need to weigh about two-thirds of their mature weight at breeding time in December. They usually need to gain 1 to 1 1/2 pounds per day after weaning. Watch the body condition of bred heifers. Separate them from the cows and provide supplemental feed if necessary. Identify thin cows and separate them from cows in adequate body condition. Supplement thin cows at a rate where they will reach moderate body condition at calving. August Continue fly control. As fly tags get old, you may need to begin spraying or using back rubs. Get large, round bales into the barn, or move them to dry, welldrained areas. Control flies. Check for pinkeye and foot rot. Treat as soon as symptoms are seen. Check cows for bad eyes, udders, legs, and production records to identify cows that need to be culled. Plan calf weaning management. Prepare pens, and plan feeding program. Wean and vaccinate calves for respiratory diseases 45 days prior to shipment. Check with your veterinarian now so that you can order recommended vaccines. Replacement heifers are 8 to 10 months old. Keep an eye on heifer gains and supply supplemental feed as needed. Check cow condition. Cows should be in moderately good condition (BCS 5 to 6) prior to calving. If cows are thin (BCS 4 or lower) improve forage offered or give supplemental feed. Check calving supplies and order needed supplies so that you will be ready in September. Check heifers frequently. They should begin calving in September. Vaccinate any early calves with 7-way clostridium. Feed weaned calves for desired gain based on management and marketing plan. 5 ag655_1.indd 5

6 September Inventory your hay supply to determine if additional cuttings or purchases need to be made. Send samples to the NCDA and CS Forage Testing Lab, or to a commercial forage lab for analysis. Keep a close check on supplemental feed prices. Corn and byproduct feeds, such as cottonseed, are generally least expensive in the fall. Wean calves depending on pasture conditions and your marketing plans. Select replacement heifers based on weaning weights, frame score, temperament, etc. Use weights to project needed gain between now and breeding. Consider options for selling weaned calves, back-grounding, or maintaining ownership through the feedlot. Deworm calves at weaning. For late calves (weaning in late October or November), consider creep feeding and vaccination for respiratory diseases 45 days prior to weaning. Pregnancy check heifers; sell open heifers. Market cull cows that are in good condition. Thin cull cows should be fed to improve condition and sold after January 1. Turn weaned calves to good pasture, and feed concentrate at 0.5 to 1.0 percent of body weight, or feed early weaning ration in dry lot. Keep yearling heifers gaining weight. They need to weigh about two-thirds of mature weight at breeding. Bulls will be turned in with heifers 3 weeks earlier than with the cows. Turnout will be sometime between January 1 and March 15 depending on desired calving dates. Evaluate bulls, trim feet, and line up breeding soundness exams. Decide if you need to buy new bulls. Order calf and cow vaccines. Prepare calving quarters--generally a clean sodded area. Feed requirements increase 10 to 15 percent during the last 30 to 45 days prior to calving (i.e., about 1 pound of extra TDN per day). On fall pastures, cows usually will not need supplemental feed. Feed bulls same ration as cows but allow them to feed to appetite. If a bull is too thin, add some grain. Heifers start calving watch them closely. Wean calves, if not done earlier October Continue to monitor supplemental feed prices. Corn and by-product feeds like cottonseed are usually cheaper in the fall. Cottonseed is least expensive in October and November at the peak of the ginning season. Heifers need to weigh about twothirds of their mature weight at breeding time in March. They usually need to gain 1 to 1 1/2 pounds per day after weaning. Watch the body condition 1 of bred heifers. Separate them from the cows, and provide supplemental feed as quality of fall grazing declines. Identify thin cows and separate them from cows in adequate body condition. Supplement thin cows at a rate that will allow them to reach moderate body condition at calving. Move cows due to calve to clean pastures, and check them frequently. Bulls will be turned in with heifers in December and cows in January. It is time to evaluate bulls, and line up a breeding soundness exam or decide on buying new bulls. Ask your veterinarian about pre-breeding vaccinations for cows. Start feeding high magnesium mineral supplement 30 days before cattle start calving. 6 ag655_1.indd 6

7 November Deworm and implant stockers before turn out. As weather gets colder, treat cattle for lice. Remove old insecticide ear tags as you work cows. Old tags release low levels of insecticide that tend to promote development of resistant strains of flies. Bull sale season is starting. Evaluate your herd bulls, and start looking if you need a new bull. Get forage analyzed and order winter supplements if you have not already done so. Check calving supplies and order whatever is needed so that everything will be on hand in January. Feed poorer quality hay to dry cows now. Save your best hay for calving season. Check heifers frequently. They should begin calving in December. Make sure cows maintain their body condition score of 5 to 6. Supplement if necessary. Thin cows and first-calf heifers would be the most likely to need supplementation. Vaccinate calves with 7-way clostridium. Feed weaned calves for desired gain based on management and marketing plan. Make sure bulls are in good condition for breeding. Trim feet, conduct breeding soundness exams, and provide additional feed if needed to improve body condition to 6.0. Purchase additional bulls if needed to give a bull:cow ratio of 1:25. For an October 1 to December 30 calving season, bulls need to be with the cows from January 1 to March 20. Make sure bulls are in good condition and conduct breeding soundness exams. December Treat for lice if not already done. Evaluate your winter feed supply. Consider the amount of grazing planted, condition of grazing fields, and hay quantity and quality. Purchase supplemental feeds early in the month. Test hay to be used in the winter feeding program for quality (protein, energy, and moisture). Plan supplemental feeding program. Check breeding dates on cows. Watch closely as due dates approach. Feed requirements increase about 10 to 15 percent during the last 30 to 45 days prior to calving. Do not underfeed in an effort to reduce birth weight. Check with your veterinarian about suggested pre-breeding vaccinations for cows. Body condition score all females. Separate first and second calf heifers from cows. (Older thin cows may be included with heifers.) Start heifers on balanced ration designed for last third of pregnancy. Cows need to be in moderate to good condition to rebreed early. You may need to start feeding your best hay and put them on your best grazing now. Supplement as needed according to forage test, to maintain body condition of at least 5.0. Start breeding heifers about three weeks before the cows. Heifers start calving.gather and clean your calving supplies. Be ready to assist with calving difficulties and to castrate, and implant calves at birth (if possible). Follow calving season management practices as for heifers previous month. Switch heifers to lactation ration by 10 to 15 days after calving. For a high percentage of cows to rebreed early, the herd must be in moderate or better condition. You probably need to start grazing or feeding your best hay now. Supplement as needed according to forage test. 7 ag655_1.indd 7

8 Monthly Activities With Beef Herd Month Activity Date in Your Herd 1 Cow calving starts 2 Pre-breeding vaccinations and examination of heifers 3 Calving ends Bulls placed in with heifers Pre-breeding vaccinations and examination of cows 4 Bulls placed in with cows 5 6 Bulls out of cows Pre-weaning vaccinations 7 Cows vaccinated for lepto 8 Prepare for weaning 9 Wean calves 10 Sell backgrounded calves Heifers start to calve Prepared by Jim Turner, Extension Livestock Specialist, and Matt Poore, Extension Livestock Specialist 5,000 copies of this public document were printed at a cost of $ or $0.41 per copy. 5/06 5M JMG/SS E Published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service AG ag655_1.indd 8

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