It’s a pretty sight…cows out on pasture, nursing calves at their side. But there’s a whole lot more going on in that picture.

Sandwiched between major life events of calving and weaning, it would be easy to breeze by the lactation phase, but don’t. There are some critical needs to note.

Controlling thieves

Deworming has been called one of the oldest technologies we have access to for animal health, but it’s still one of the most economically impactful.

Decades ago, the industry embraced the practice for its performance advantages, but more recently, researchers have found it also boosts health and marbling, too.

  • The optimal time to deworm is about 6 to 8 weeks after cattle are put out on grass in the spring, because they’ve built up a parasite load.
  • Some areas in the South may need a second deworming 6 to 8 week after that.
  • Consider rotating among the three classes of dewormers, so cattle don’t build up resistance.
  • Always work with a veterinarian to devise a comprehensive plan.

Anything eating away at a rancher’s bottom line is unwelcome and uninvited. Parasites would be at the top of that list.

Giving mama a break

That mother cow has a big job. She’s trying to maintain body condition, breed back and get that year’s calf off to a good start. As forage resources decline or if genetic potential is heightened, creep feeding calves might give her a boost.

Even when milk and forage requirements are met, full growth potential may go unmet due to inadequate nutrition.

Creep feeding for greater than 56 days has been proven to positively affect marbling later on, according to data from the University of Illinois. It also teaches calves how to eat from a bunk prior to weaning.