Good cow nutrition is crucial following calving to get cows rebred. Today, let’s look at the reason for using our top tier hay after calves hit the ground.

Because cows experience a lot of stress after calving, they need good feed. Not only is the cow producing milk for her calf, she is also preparing her reproductive system to rebreed. As a result, nutrient demands are high. 

Energy requirements increase about 30% and protein needs nearly double after calving. Underfeeding reduces the amount of milk a cow provides her calf, and it can delay or even prevent rebreeding. If it gets cold, wet, or icy again, nutrient demands can sky-rocket.

Even if animals can get to them, winter grass, corn stalks, and other crop residues are low quality right now since these feeds have weathered and are well picked over. Therefore, it is critical that the hay or silage you feed will provide the extra nutrients your cows need.

Because of this, not just any hay or silage will do. After calving a cow needs 10-12% crude protein and 60-65% TDN in her total diet. If she is grazing poor quality feeds or eating grass hay, your other forages and supplements must make up any deficiencies.

Make sure your forage has adequate nutrients; if you haven’t done so yet, get it tested now for protein and energy content. Compare this to the nutrient requirements of your cows. Then feed your cows a ration that will meet their requirements. Use supplements if needed, but don’t overfeed, either. 

Calving and the months after are a stressful time for cows. If we underfeed, it can delay rebreeding and slow down calf growth. Use your best quality forages with any needed supplements to provide adequate nutrition. By meeting nutrient requirements, your cows will milk well, rebreed on time, and produce healthy calves year after year. 

By Ben Beckman

© 2024 The North Platte Bulletin. All rights reserved.