Feeding Open Cows

Producers up north, cannot imagine not pregnancy testing their cows. They have had one of the toughest Februarys on record, and the hay piles are getting smaller by the day. They sure don’t want to be feeding any open cows in their herds this winter. It is easy to become envious of southern ranchers who must supplement their herds much less in what they might call “winter”.

Our question to you southern ranchers is, does it pay to pregnancy test beef cows in places like Florida and southern Texas? It looks like a non-pregnant cow cost everyone money and the sooner they go to town and get off the ranch the better. Below is a summary of Chris Prevatt’s work from the University of Florida, Range Cattle Research & Education Center:

Chris Prevatt, UF/IFAS Regional Livestock Economist, developed a cow-calf budget for Florida using actual costs from multiple beef herds. The variable costs for pastures and purchased feed in the budget add up to almost $400 per cow each year. If you keep open cows past weaning, it will cost you at least $200/cow to graze and feed them through the end of the calving season. In today’s cattle market, these freeloaders need to be culled and sold, once their current calf is weaned. Culling the 5-15% of the herd that is open saves valuable resources for the cows that are pregnant and will be providing income for the herd in the future.

To find those open “freeloading” cows, consider using a ReproScan Technologies, BoviScan Curve or ReproScan XTC to pregnancy test your herd before placing that pricey feed order. Call our knowledgeable staff today to discuss implementing “on ranch ultrasound” today. - Dr. Andrew Bronson


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