Good Monday morning to all you critter and land loving folks. This time of year is a season of eating! Holidays bring people together, and what do we do to pass the time, eat…and play card games of course. Something I have been considering is how fortunate we are to be closely linked to our food sources. I am talking in our home personally, but I have a feeling many of you can say a similar thing. We have a garden in the summer and we can or freeze as much produce as possible. In our freezer, we have beef, homegrown beef. All these resources are major for a family of six, and it is rewarding to see your hard work feed your loved ones. I find it a relief as well knowing what exactly went into that food. Talking about healthy nutritious food leads me to think of healthy animals, so this week the topic of body condition scoring is where we are headed.
We recently completed the High Plains Ranch Practicum, and this topic day was one of my favorites. I will list a couple of resources on this topic at the bottom of the page. I have my handout from class which I think will land in the feed truck as a quick reference for me, I like to double check myself! It just so happens that the herd I am around is at a prime time to go and do some scoring on. They are prime for scoring as they have recently weaned, and will soon be in the window of three months out from calving. This system is a scale of 1-9 (for beef cattle) to rate how your girls are looking and what may need to be adjusted to provide for their nutritional needs.
Feeding in colder weather is what really brought this to mind for me. It makes sense to check on livestock needs as it gets colder and energy demands go up for them. This tool lends itself to another, and that is testing the protein levels in your hay supply or grazing supply. So take advantage of these simple tools to better meet the needs of your herd. Some final thoughts on scoring your herd would be: score individual cows, making it easier to track if you need to adjust for a handful, and a record if you need to separate them out later. And lastly advice straight from class, take your neighbor with you, or a fresh pair of eyes, the benefits could be numerous for you and your herd. They will be fair in their evaluation, more so than your odds are. Remember to check out some resources below, go load up, grab your record book, an honest ride along, and get some ink on your hands, cause that’s working cows. Blessings to you, yours, and your operation.
University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension: http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/ec281.pdf
Hobby Farm magazine: www.hobbyfarms.com/why-body-condition-score-your-cows-5