Preparing Your Cow Herd For Fall & Winter Starts Now

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Last updated on October 25th, 2023 at 07:54 am

Have you ever found yourself at the tail-end of summer feeling a little tuckered out from all the hustle and bustle of weaning? Beyond that, thoughts of winter are lingering: feed costs, herd nutrition, and 3rd trimester health. And still, the big question remains: how can you maintain good body condition on your cows throughout winter, without breaking the bank? Often, it is one the most influential decisions in managing ranch costs.

At Riomax®, we find it important to revolve around season-specific topics for the people we serve. After all, we are rancher-centric and results-driven, and it is a high priority that we stay 100% aligned with you, the rancher. Preparing your cow herd for the different seasons plays a key role in the success of your operation.

During the fall season, we specifically drive results around 4 main areas:

  1. Impacting weaning weights
  2. The weaning process
  3. Reducing winter feed costs - now
  4. Priming cows for fall & winter health

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of how and why it is so important to begin preparing your cow herd for fall and winter before it's too late, by utilizing the 4 above-mentioned points.

Tips For Impacting Weaning Weights

Weaning time comes quicker than you think; time is precious and you can’t waste a day. That’s why it is important to start planning a few months before to better-prepare your herd for weaning success.

The very worst thing that can happen during the weaning process is for a newly weaned calf to get sick with a respiratory disease like pneumonia, or a form of scours. You’ve put all that blood, sweat, and tears into raising the calf to the stage it’s reached, only to have a disease challenge sweep in and destroy much of your efforts. 

cow and calf

Diseases negatively impact the calf’s weight gain potential, which ultimately affects its saleability. 

How can you prevent this nightmarish scenario? 

A large part of a calf’s health after weaning is determined by the mineral program that the calf has been on prior to weaning. In other words, if the calf already has sufficient mineral levels in its bloodstream and its nutrition is high, the calf has a much higher chance of weathering the stress of weaning.

With the Riomax® technology, we’re able to help your cows better digest every mouthful and better optimize every acre. This in turn directly impacts the calves. More milk production, higher milk quality, and increased butterfat all lead to increased calf weight gain - without needing any expensive supplements.

Preparing Your Cow Herd For The Weaning Process

Weaning itself is a huge step; it’s like harvest time for the cow/calf man. 

During weaning, the calf can become stressed due to a couple of main causes:

  • The calf is pulled away from its mama, causing anxiety not only to the calf, but also the cow.
  • Varying weather conditions - like hot/cold temperatures and moisture in the form of snow/rain - cause an array of health challenges.

These factors have a cumulative effect and put immense pressure on the calf’s immune system. 

A calf with a strong, healthy, vibrant immune system (due to high mineral levels) will be able to fight off the stress of disease and weather-related challenges - from the inside out

The opposite of this is a calf with mineral deficiencies. Because the calf doesn’t have the nutrients it needs, there is a much higher risk that it will succumb to disease when weather challenges hit. Whether it be a respiratory or scours illness, a mineral-deficient calf does not have the immune status it needs to fight off the disease.

How Riomax® Has An Effect On Weaning

Riomax® tubs have proven to be beneficial in helping calves through this process - before weaning, as well as afterward, in weaning pens. Why? Because they are getting the nutrients they need, which builds their immune system and helps them fight disease and weather challenges. 

Furthermore, when calves have been on the tubs in summer pasture - or wherever they were prior to weaning - they are already familiar with the product and eagerly consume the tubs once transferred to the weaning pens. Tubs are a great tool in helping calves through that tough transition.

“Sure like how these tubs worked on the calves coming out of the mountains. Had the calves on the tubs when they were close to home in the spring after calving and then this fall put those tubs in the pens of weaned calves and it took about 10 seconds for the calves to remember what they were! They are licking them steady now and going into feed good!"

– Grand Forks, BC 

Additionally, the high level of B vitamin in the lick tubs help stimulate the calf’s appetite, resulting in calves at the bunk and increased feed consumption. Ultimately, this results in healthier calves that gain weight faster. The other factor is high vitamin A, D, and E, which help the calf overcome stress. 

The final component in the Riomax® tubs that directly impacts the weaning process is 100% rumen bypass trace minerals, which ensure that the minerals are getting into the blood. Backing all of this up is the digestion powerhouse: Nutrizorb®. Nutrizorb® helps those calves squeeze more out of every mouthful.

At weaning time, having a healthy, hungry calf up at the bunk is very important. With the Riomax® technology, we’re pouring the coals to everything that drives healthiness and hungriness. Ultimately, a hungry calf is going to result in a heavy calf, and we’ve never heard anyone complain about increased weaning weights.

healthy hungry calves

Reduce Winter Feed Costs - Now

You might be wondering, how can I impact winter feeding costs when it’s still fall?

The better you optimize your land base, your forages, and your grazing now, the further out you can push your hay date. Pushing your hay date off means you don’t need to start feeding hay as early. Additionally, you can feed less hay throughout the winter, not to mention reduced labor and equipment wear and tear. All of this combined directly impacts your winter feeding costs. 

One rancher from North Dakota describes it perfectly.

“Winter feed costs eat ranchers alive.” -Jerry Doan, Blackleg Ranch

How can you effectively mitigate these costs?

Here at Riomax®, we focus heavily on helping you conserve forages now, so you can and drive down those winter input costs, later

How do we do it? 

Nutrizorb® is a digestion pack powerhouse. It helps you get the most out of your existing resources and land base by extracting more energy and protein out of your hay, grass, or whatever forage your herd is consuming.

Prime Cows For Fall & Winter Health

By allowing mama cow to optimize the good grass available now, you are priming her for fall and winter.

Because she is getting those extra nutrients from her forages, mama’s milk production and body condition are also positively affected. That means she goes into fall and winter with better body condition and a higher body score. This directly impacts your winter feed costs - once again. 

Because the cow is going into winter in good shape, you won’t have to play catch-up game later. Specifically, you won't have to pour expensive feed to those cows during harsh winter weather.

With Riomax®, you can pull more nutrients out of any forage. Even as your grass cures out and becomes stouter, the Nutrizorb® digestion package squeezes more out of every mouthful, every acre, every day

Prepare Your Cow Herd Now To See Better Results Later

As you can see, there are four main things we’re focused on in early fall that have long term effects. 

  • Weaning weights 
  • The weaning process
  • Reducing winter feed costs - now
  • Priming cows for fall & winter health

Of course it is important to save money during the fall. It is of all importance to optimize your pastures by using a program with a low cost per head per day. But it’s equally important to note that all of these steps have effects on more than just the current season - they directly carry over into winter.

Are you ready to take action, for the sake of your herd? Want to learn even more about making an impact on weaning weights, minimizing winter costs, and bolstering 3rd trimester health? We'd love to help you build a solid nutritional foundation for your herd - before it’s too late!

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