A large number of Kentucky beef producers have spring-calving cow herds that graze fescue pastures.

The biggest concern with these pastures is their high endophyte levels. High endophyte levels can cause a multitude of problems in cattle, including reduced reproduction performance.

“Getting a high percentage of cows bred in May, June and July to calve in March, April and May can be a challenge,” said Roy Burris, beef Extension specialist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Princeton. “I personally prefer fall calving for that reason, but I also believe we can have successful breeding performance in the spring.”

Burris believes there are some keys to getting a high percentage of cows pregnant for a spring-calving season.

“The most general problem, in my opinion, is that the winter feeding program isn’t adequate to support required body condition for early rebreeding,” he said.

Cows should enter the breeding season in good body condition, Body Condition Score 5, which doesn’t always result from many producers’ winter feeding programs.

“It seems we sometimes try to ‘rough ‘em’ through the winter and hope spring grass will straighten them out,” he said. “That is a sure formula for delayed breeding or open cows.”