Welcome to the March issue of Beef Cattle Tips.  Beef Cattle Tips is a monthly newsletter designed to remind you of timely production practices that could benefit your operation.  Items presented in this newsletter should be completed sometime this month, if it has not already been addressed.
Tips for Spring Calving Herds:
Breeding Soundness Evaluation
  • Have bulls tested for breeding soundness before spring breeding season begins - Fact Sheet 3046.  Twenty percent of bulls fail a breeding soundness examination.  The breeding soundness evaluation (BSE) is a practical method to identify bulls with less than satisfactory breeding potential. This evaluation should be conducted on every bull at least 30 to 60 days before each breeding season to allow enough time for replacement of deferred or unsatisfactory bulls.

Check body condition Scores

  •  Assessing body condition scores is essential in maximizing cow herd efficiency.
  • The processes of fetal development, delivering a calf, milk production and repair of the reproductive tract are all stresses that require large quantities of energy.
Keep an eye out for calving difficulty
  • Calving difficulty (dystocia) is a very important economic problem in the U.S. beef cattle industry.
  • Approximately 3% of calves born in the US will be lost due to calving difficulty.
  • Several factors play a role in calving difficulty including heavy birth weights, abnormal fetal position, limited pelvic area and the female's age.

 Watch closely for calf scours

  • Calf scours is a very costly problem for many producers.
  • Calves that suffer from scours can become critically ill in a short period of time.
  • Fact sheet 3083

 Grass tetany can become a problem during late winter and early spring

  • Grass tetany occurs most commonly in the months of February, March, and April. 
  • It normally occurs when cool season forages begin to regrow
  • Grass tetany is due to an abnormally low level of magnesium in the cow's body
  • Older lactating cows are more susceptible

Forage Management Tips:

Weed control

  • Apply or re-apply burn-down herbicide to dormant bermudagrass.
    • This is very important for keeping bermudagrass pastures clean of broadleaf weeds as much as possible. Herbicide of choice is glyphosate before bermuda greenup occurs.  Use only broadleaf herbicides such as 2,4-D.
    • Use maximum rates according to the label;
    • Bermudagrass should not be mowed/grazed for 60 days after glyphosate application after bermuda greenup, so time herbicide application accordingly.

Grazing management

  • Initiate grazing of cool season legumes.
    • Depending on use, cool season legumes can be grazed once they reach a canopy height of 12-18 inches.
    • During spring weather warming, legumes grow vigorously and initiation of grazing can easily be missed.
    • Focus on specific management goals of legumes: for adding soil organic matter, for establishing a long-term stand of annual legumes,  or for optimum grazing utilization.


Disease and Pest management in forages

  • Scout for insect damage in alfalfa and other legumes.
    • Weevil infestation can kill stands if not treated on time.
    • Aphids may weaken stands considerably specially when additional stresses occur.
General Things to Consider:
  • Start repairing haying equipment for spring harvest. 

  • Fertilize winter annual and fescue pastures and hayfields.  Typical rates are 50-60 units N along with P and K by soil test.