Mark Z. Johnson, Oklahoma State University Extension Beef Cattle Breeding Specialist
At the time of this writing we continue to enjoy a mild, dry winter in Oklahoma. This has been a blessing from a standpoint of winter feed bills to this point. The mild weather also creates a good opportunity to put flesh on the breeding herd prior to calving and breeding season if its needed.
Optimum Body Condition Score (BCS) on bred heifers going into calving season is a 6, for mature cows it’s a 5.5. This is important because there is a strong relationship between BCS at calving and reproductive success in the first 90 days after calving, the critical interval post calving when cows need to breed back to stay on schedule to wean off a calf each 365 days. As well, cow body condition influences the calf’s ability to develop as strong immune system.
It’s also important to monitor the BCS on herd bulls at this time of year. Herd bulls at a BCS of 5.5 – 6 at turnout are more fit, athletic and have batteries fully charged when turned out later this spring. Bulls in optimum condition at turnout are more likely to service and settle more cows early in the breeding season and contribute to the bottom line in a positive fashion.
Now is a good time to evaluate BCS on the breeding herd and feed accordingly. The mild weather gives opportunity to add some body condition more efficiently if its needed. More effective to do that now than to try and accomplish it if colder, wetter winter weather looms on the horizon.
Reference: OSU Beef Cattle Manual. Eight Edition. Chapter 20.
Dr. Glenn Selk explains the importance of having heifers in good body condition at calving time in the spring on a classic SUNUP TV. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGoo3aiHpZY