Cows Entering Period of Higher Nutrition Needs

A Little Bit Country


The great fall weather psyched us into believing it will last into December. However, recent cold weather changed plans because I could not keep up with providing ice-free water. Even though the calves had been weaned I felt the light covering of snow was not enough for cows about to enter the third trimester of pregnancy when fetal growth is rapid.

Good nutrition during the last trimester has many consequences. Fetal growth must be met with greater levels of energy and protein feeds. If extra quality feed is not available, the growing fetus will draw from the cow’s body condition. When this occurs, especially young females, the cow will enter post parturition in poor condition. After calf birth, the cow has little chance of regaining body condition before breeding season resulting in delayed conception and later calving the following year. It should be the goal of every beef cow/calf producer to calve every 365 days. Calving dates beyond 365 days for successive years will eventually cause the cow to be a late calver and thus culled during what is supposed to be her primary productive years.

2014 Durum Wheat Overview

According to the 2014 regional report of U.S. Durum wheat the North Dakota and Montana crop is similar in production to 2013 but reflects more quality impact from a challenging production and harvest season. The 2014 crop averages a #2 Amber Durum (AD), down from a #1 Hard Amber Durum (HAD) in 2013 and the five-year average, with a greater than normal variance in quality across the crop.

A large portion of the crop is of #2 grade or better, but due to untimely rains during harvest a greater than normal share of the crop fell below the 75% vitreous kernel level for HAD. Only 50% of the crop remained in the #2 HAD or better grade and subclass, compared to 82% in 2013, with a much larger percentage falling into the Durum subclass of less than 60% vitreous kernel. The coverage test weight is 59 pounds per bushel, down from both last year and the five-year average. Distribution of the test weight shows 28% of the 2014 crop above 60 pounds per bushel compared to 83% in 2013. Average damaged kernels are 0.8%, up from 0.2% in 2013 and slightly higher than the five-year average. This is reflective of higher Fusarium and wheat midge pressures in parts of the region. Due to the Fusarium pressures, average DON values on the crops are 2.10 ppm, up from 1.02 ppm in 2013 and only 0.69 ppm for the five-year average.

The 2014 crop is showing higher average protein levels, at 13.2 on a 12% moisture basis. This compares to 2013 but slightly below the five-year average. A relatively cool growing season and high yields in areas kept protein levels below average and along with untimely harvest rains led to lower vitreous kernels.

The top five durum varieties planted in North Dakota in 2014 remained the same as 2013, and included Divide (1st), Alkabo (2nd), Mountrail (3rd), Tioga (4th), and Lebsock (5th). It won’t be too many years when some of these varieties will be replaced by Carpio and Joppa, both high yielding and high quality. The counties of Burke, Divide, Mountrail, Williams and McKenzie produce 51% of U.S. Durum. Northeastern Montana counties produce 24%.


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