Livestock

Healthy pastures are the foundation for a healthy herd

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A new resource for ranchers showcases how effective pasture management can translate directly to the cow herd’s health status, productivity, and profit potential. A grazing emphasis can significantly increase forage quantity and quality and improve pasture utilization.

It All Starts With Grass: How High-quality Grazing Supports a Healthy, Productive Herd, a new white paper from Corteva Agriscience, addresses how providing abundant, quality grazing influences productivity in ways both obvious and subtle.

“Sound pasture management is as important as a good vaccine protocol or feed and mineral program,” said Jeff Clark, Market Development Specialist, Corteva Agriscience, and the white paper’s author. “Yet it is often overlooked.”

Toxic weeds in a pasture certainly can affect herd health. But the bigger role of pasture is how quantity and quality of grass affect cow body condition. Specifically, body condition affects breed-back, milk production, daily gains and the immune system of both cow and calf. For example, cows with a body condition score (BCS) below 5 can require an additional 60 to 90 days to cycle back before breeding. And even then, they likely achieve only a 75 percent or less conception rate.

Consider other ways improper cow condition affects the herd:

  • Poorly conditioned cows produce less and lower-quality colostrum
  • Low-quality colostrum reduces passive immunity
  • A weakened immune system leads to increased health issues
  • Having more sick calves is labor intensive and often results in higher vet bills and increased death loss

“Nutrition to support body condition can come from a bale or a bag, but it’s most economical from grazed grass,” Clark said. “By removing low-value weeds and replacing them with forage, you can raise the nutritional plane of your pasture to better, more economically feed cows.”

As producers evaluate and plan for the upcoming grazing season, this latest resource from Corteva provides pasture management tips to help improve herd productivity. Visit the Corteva website to download the white paper.

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