Ensuring good beef and milk production in cattle farming requires the implementation of a strict nutritional regime for the animals, as the old adage, ‘they are as good as they eat’ suggests.
To implement such sound measures requires knowing the different phases of cattle development and then applying nutrition to the specific needs of the livestock at each of these stages.
Jonathan Statham, a veterinarian from the Bishopton Veterinary Group, suggests in the Veterinary Manual that four distinct nutritional stages for the beef cow exist, while cows used for dairy only have three.
Stage 1 – From Calf To Breeding
It is during this period that the nutritional needs are increased. The reason for this is that the cow’s system is at its maximum milk production capacity and the cow is also in the process of recovering from the birth, which is often stressful. Due to the high demand for good nutrition, much effort needs to be undertaken in ensuring cattle are sufficiently nourished.
Stage 2 –The Weaning Phase
During this stage, it is normal to expect that weight should start increasing, even though the cow is still milking. The dairy cow, however, should maintain weight.
Period 3 – The 50 Days Prior To The Next Rebreeding
This is the stage of the considered less taxing in the nutritional needs department. Beef cow farmers should aim to maintain the condition of cattle during this phase and for good fetal development to continue during this period. The nutritional supply of dairy cows is designed for management of weight. This is to assist the cow to be more stable.
Period 4 – 50 Days Prior To Birth
This is the critical period when the fetus grows by up to 75 percent. No lactation occurs. The health state of the cow needs to be optimal to benefit rebreeding. If cattle lose too much weight during this phase it will affect later development.