November Cattle Management
Plan your winter feeding program.
- Obtain cow and calf weights and see your county Extension agent for information on record keeping programs. Cull cows based on performance and pregnancy status and make initial heifer selections, keeping more than you intend to retain for the next breeding season.
- Evaluate body condition (BCS) of cows after weaning their calves. Sort thin cows (BCS<5) away from the main cow herd so they can receive extra feed, if needed.
- Dry cows can utilize crop residues and poorer-quality hay, but don’t let them lose too much weight. Save higher-quality feeds until calving time.
- Check heifers frequently. They should begin calving in December.
- Replacement heifers should gain at an adequate rate to reach their “target” breeding weight (65-70 percent of mature weight) by calving time.
- Increase feed to cows 45 – 60 days prior to calving.
- Check calving supplies and order whatever is needed so that everything will be on hand in January.
- Vaccinate calves for blackleg and respiratory diseases and deworm. Consult with your veterinarian to develop a herd health protocol.
- Feed weaned calves for desired gain based on management and marketing plan. Consult with your Extension agent for information on value-added marketing opportunities.
- Check calving pastures frequently.
- Identify calves with ear tags and/or tattoo while they are young and easy to handle. Record dam ID and birth date. Commercial male calves should also be castrated and implanted according to product recommendations. Castrating and dehorning are less stressful when performed on young animals. Registered calves should be weighed during the first 24 hours following birth.
- Move cows with young calves to the best stockpiled fescue pasture.
- Line up AI sires and/or purchase new bulls at least 30 days prior to breeding season. Breeding season would begin January 1 for a calving season starting October 1. Choose a breed and use EPD’s and visual observation to select the bull that best fits your program and budget.
- Purchase additional bulls if needed to give a bull:cow ratio of 1:25.
- Have veterinarian perform breeding soundness evaluations on bulls. Trim feet and provide additional feed if needed to improve body condition to 6.0
- Evaluate yearling replacement heifers for reproductive tract score and weight. Heifers should reach their target weight of 65-70 percent of expected mature weight by breeding season.
- Soil test, soil test, soil test! There will be a $4 charge per sample from December through March, so do it now!
- Continue testing hay for nutrient content. Use your best hay during calving.
- Continue inventory of hay supplies and needs.
- Begin using stockpiled tall fescue.
- Use crop residues as needed or available.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR ALL CATTLE
- Record all cow deaths, purchases, sales and movements among pastures.
- This is a good time to freeze-brand replacement heifers for permanent identification.
- Provide free choice, high magnesium minerals to all cattle.
- Deworm, implant, and vaccinate stockers before turn out.
- 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.
Adapted from “Cow Herd Management Calendar for North Carolina Producers”. For a copy of this calendar, or for any questions related to this article, please contact Jonathan Black at the Randolph County Cooperative Extension Office at 336-318-6000
Distributed in furtherance of the acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. 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, veteran status 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.