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Angus Advisor

November herd management tips from cattle experts across the nation.

Midwest Region

General comments

Eric Bailey

During my tenure writing this column, a consistent theme will be return on investment (ROI). Too often, beef producers make management changes based on convenience or a sales pitch without a deep appreciation for the impact of the change on their bottom line. There are multiple paths to profitability in the beef business.

The No. 1 key to profitability is a cow weaning a calf every 365 days. I do not believe in giving a cow “a second chance” by rolling from a spring herd to a fall herd or vice versa. The fact of the matter is that she failed to breed under the parameters you set and, therefore, she is unproductive.

An even worse-case scenario is giving her a second chance, and then she raises a heifer that appears desirable as a replacement female. I would be willing to bet that the daughter will need “a second chance” at some point in her productive life, too. Beef producers need to think about managing females that fit their production environment.

Management calendar for November:
My assumptions: Spring-calving herds begin to calve Feb. 1, and fall-calving herds begin to calve Sept. 1.

Spring-calving herds: Body condition management is the most important area to focus on in November.

Fall-calving herds: Breeding season is starting

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Southern Great Plains

Spring-calving herds

  1. 1. Dry cows grazing native rangeland or mature Bermuda grass should receive a protein supplement. One lb. of a high-protein product (30%-40%) or 2 lb. of a moderate-protein product (20%-25%) will increase forage intake and digestibility, allowing the cattle to harvest 25%-50% more energy from the forage resource. Cows should gain one-half to one full BCS before the end of the year, assuming they have access to abundant forage.
  2. 2. Be diligent in monitoring health of weaned calves. Bovine respiratory disease often occurs within about four weeks of a stressful period and/or exposure to infectious agents. Similarly, the incubation period (time from ingestion of oocysts until clinical signs of diarrhea) is about two to three weeks. Consequently, just because calves are no longer bawling and have learned to come to the feedbunk or feed truck does not mean they are “out of the woods.”
  3. 3. Work with a nutrition expert to design a balanced, cost-effective program for weaned calves to include protein, energy, vitamin and mineral supplementation. The destination for calves post-preconditioning should be a major factor in designing the nutritional program for the preconditioning period. For example, if they will be turned out on wheat pasture in December, there is no need to feed them to gain 3 lb. per day during preconditioning.

Fall-calving herds

  1. 1. Prepare for the breeding season by purchasing semen, checking, repairing and cleaning breeding equipment and facilities.
  2. 2. An excellent resource for up-to-date synchronization and AI breeding information can be found at
  3. 3. Process calves and vaccinate according to your herd health plan. Vaccinate cows for reproductive diseases according to your herd health plan.
  4. 4. Lactating, fall-calving cows should receive approximately twice the amount of supplemental protein as the spring-calving cow herd. On native, warm-season pasture, use an escalating supplementation program, beginning with 1 lb. of 37%-40% CP supplement in September and October and increasing to 3-4 lb. by Jan. 1.

General recommendations
  1. 1. Producers evaluating winter feeding and supplementation programs should spend some time with a simple ration-evaluation program. These decision tools can help you make informed decisions, cut out waste, and ensure optimal animal performance. Most extension service groups offer some sort of ration-evaluation program. The Oklahoma State University (OSU) Cowculator is one such tool that is made available for free at
  2. 2. Discontinue feeding tetracycline for anaplasmosis control after the end of the vector season (after a hard freeze).
  3. 3. Check with your extension office for information on educational meetings about livestock and forage production practices.
  4. 4. Lightly graze native hay meadows after a hard/killing frost. Remove cattle from meadows in wet conditions. Leave a minimum of 6 in. to 8 in. of existing regrowth to protect the soil surface.

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Western Region

Fall-calving herds
Main focus — prepare for the breeding season.

  1. 1. Decide on AI sires and get semen ordered early. Focus on bulls that will produce high-quality herd replacements. Devote adequate time to sire selection because, from a long-term standpoint, it is the most important management decision that is made each year in a purebred cattle operation.
  2. 2. Evaluate available synchronization protocols and determine the best choice for your production situation.
  3. 3. Put the extra effort into heat detection because oftentimes it is the difference between average and highly successful AI programs.
  4. 4. Have extra AI supplies on hand and thoroughly clean and disinfect all breeding equipment (including the thaw thermos) prior to the start of breeding.
  5. 5. Semen- and trich-test natural-service sires far enough in advance of turnout dates so if problems arise, they can be corrected in time to not affect your breeding season.
  6. 6. Be sure to get cows and heifers vaccinated with prebreeding vaccinations at least 30 days prior to the start of the breeding season. At a minimum, females should be receiving at least two vaccinations: 1) the respiratory complex plus leptospirosis and possibly vibriosis, and 2) either a seven- or eight-way clostridial vaccination.
  7. 7. Consider deworming females at the same time that they are vaccinated with either an injectable, paste or pour-on product.
  8. 8. Consider injecting females with MultiMin® at the same time that vaccinations are given.
  9. 9. Be sure that females are receiving adequate levels of calcium, phosphorus and trace minerals that are deficient in your area. Mineral supplementation is most important during the breeding season.
  10. 10. Continue to monitor BCS of breeding females. The target BCS is 5.0 (scale = 1 to 9) for both cows and heifers. Ideally, this level of body condition should be maintained during the breeding season.

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