April brings spring fever, winter feeding fatigue and anxiousness to go to grass.

As with many management practices, patience pays dividends. Turning out too quickly on spring pastures will only delay the time when pasture can meet a cow’s dry matter needs.

Rotational grazing can also improve pasture productivity by insuring a rest period for forage regrowth.

As fertilization and plans are made for future forage harvest it is an excellent time to total winter feed consumption and reflect on management changes for 2013 which could reduce days of winter feeding and supplement needs.

Spring calving herds — January-March

General:

· Calving season winding down. Continue to observe late calving cows frequently;

· Tag, tattoo, record birth weight, calving ease score, teat/udder score and mothering ability of dam. Keep accurate records at birth to comply with age and source verification requirements;

· Monitor young calves for scours. Keep calving area and paddocks with pairs clean and well drained. Move pairs to new pastures or locations and reduce commingling of newborn calves with older calves to help reduce exposure and transfer of scours.

Nutrition and forages:

· Continue to offer a high magnesium mineral to prevent grass tetany. Monitor intake to insure cows are consuming the recommended amount; No other source of salt or minerals should be available;

· Evaluate growth of yearling heifers with the goal of reaching 60-65 percent of mature weight by breeding. Depending on forage quality, supplementation may be needed to meet weight gain target;

· Offer medium quality hay as cows are turned out on pasture and use hay disappearance as a barometer of dry matter needs of the herd;

· New forage growth is very digestible, high in protein and high in moisture content.

Herd health:

· Consult with your veterinarian concerning pre-breeding vaccination schedule for cow herd, yearling heifers, and bulls. Plan early to allow 30-day vaccination window prior to breeding season;