By Dr. Roy Burris, University of Kentucky Beef Extension
• Schedule a pregnancy examination of cows if not done previously. Winter feeding costs can be minimized by eliminating open cows prior to winterfeeding.
• If you have already done a preweaning working, revaccinate (booster) calves as needed. Treat calves for internal and external parasites. If you vaccinate calves yourself, be sure to store, handle and administer vaccines properly.
• Wean calves before cows lose body condition.
• Obtain weaning weights of your calves and enter. Weaning is the time to do your first round of culling and selecting breeding stock. You can eliminate obviously inferior calves, especially those with wild or nervous dispositions. Consider the number of heifers that you will need to save for your cow herd. Bulls which are old, unsound, roguish, etc. can be culled now. It is not too early to begin thinking about replacements now.
• Use a good record keeping program. Keep good records and treat your cow-calf operation like a business.
• Evaluate the body condition of your cows and improve their condition prior to winter.
• The calving season should be in full swing for fall calvers. Check cows frequently. Identify calves and commercial males should be castrated and implanted.
• It is time to get everything ready for the fall-breeding season, too. Line-up semen, supplies, etc. now and get your bulls ready to go (don’t forget their breeding soundness evaluation).
• Put fall-calving cows on accumulated pasture before the breeding season. This has generally been a good year for moisture. Be sure to save some grass in the breeding pastures.
• Obtain yearling measurements (weight, hip height, scrotal circumference, etc.) on replacement animals—especially for registered ones, check pelvic areas, too.
• If you are purchasing weaned/stressed calves, have your receiving/feeding program in place. Feed a stress ration which contains at least 13% protein and is fairly energy dense.
• Manage to keep newly weaned and/or purchased calves healthy. Calves should be penned in a small lot with adequate feed, water and shade to reduce stress. Careful handling and comfortable, uncrowded conditions can decrease stress.
• When newly-weaned calves are purchased in the fall, sickness and death loss can be a big problem. Work with your veterinarian on a health and receiving program. Consider purchasing CPH-45 feeder calves which are preweaned, vaccinated, bunk-adjusted and treated for parasites.
• Watch calves closely for a few weeks after their arrival. Have a treatment program ready for any health problems. Early recognition of sick cattle improves their chance of recovery. Watch for drooped ears, hollow appearance, reluctance to rise, stiff gait, coughing and dull or sunken eyes. A good “receiving” program is essential to profitability.
• Remove fly-control eartags from all animals, dispose of according to instructions on package. Treat for grubs/lice.
• Avoid prussic acid poisoning which can happen when frosts rupture the plant cells in sorghums, sorghum-sudan hybrids, sudangrass and johnsongrass releasing prussic (hydrocyanic) acid. Fields can be grazed after the plants have dried up after a frost. New growth that occurs in stalk fields is potentially dangerous whether frosted or not.
• Take soil samples for soil analysis to determine pasture fertility needs. Apply phosphate, potash and lime accordingly.
• Test hay quality and make inventory of hay supplies and needs. Make adjustments now – buy feed before you run out in the winter.
• Do not harvest or graze alfalfa now in order for it to replenish root reserves.