By Rhett Newby
Agricultural and Natural Extension Agent
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PRATT, KAN.- Body condition scoring is an important tool that cattle producers can use in their programs to get a better return on investment. Cattle scoring can give producers a better idea of the overall health of their herd and understand who needs more feed and who needs less. With feed sources becoming less available this year, understanding how to appropriately score cattle body condition will become crucial as we approach breeding season for spring calving herds. When assessing a body condition score, “cows are graded on a scale of 1 to 9, with the cows being very thin and the nine being extremely overweight,” veterinarian Brad White said. “Cows after weaning will typically score between 4 and 6.”
Many people have been recommended to perform a body condition assessment at three times of the year, at weaning, before calving and just before breeding. It is important to score cattle throughout the year so producers can understand which cattle may be behind and need additional supplementation. In the event that the cattle score below 4, it is recommended that they be separated and given the necessary additional nutrients so that they have a greater opportunity to reproduce at a faster rate. In addition to having the ability to nurse a calf at full capacity corresponding to a higher weaning weight for these calves. Understand that turning spring calving cows that need to gain weight on fall pasture is an option, but that may not be the case for drought-stricken areas and building a cheap diet rich in roughage may be a better option. Another option is to graze cattle on crops that have failed, such as corn, so that those cattle can still receive more energy in this diet, but be careful when moving cattle away from fields of crops that have failed. . Testing these crops before offering them to your livestock can ensure that these animals do not end up poisoned when grazing.
In times of drought, new ideas and practices can become saviors for some producers who wish to innovate in the way they operate. With fewer feed options for livestock, prices will rise and finding ways to combat those prices with other options could provide another profitable year for some.