Cattle farmers and ranchers use different strategies to net profits from their herds. While dairy farmers focus on maximizing milk production, ranchers focus on maximizing the quantity and quality of meat production. To gain the best return on their investments, farmers and ranchers need to utilize their pastures, harvested hay, and feed supplements strategically. In the Pacific Northwest, using a feed such as Cascade Cattle and Sheep alongside grass and hay goes a long way toward helping cows stay healthy and calves grow strong.
The Life Cycle of a Pasture
Cool-season perennial grasses go through three different stages each year. During the vegetative stage in the spring, grasses put all their energy into producing new leaves. This is when grasses provide the most nutritional value to grazing cattle.
During the reproductive stage in the summer, grasses channel most of their energy into producing seeds. At this point, grasses begin to lose their nutritional value.
Finally, at the end of the growing season, grasses fall dormant to await another growth cycle in the spring. During this phase, grazing cattle glean the least amount of nutrition from the pasture.
The "55 Days to Grass" Plan
One of the most important decisions cattle farmers and ranchers make each year is choosing when to breed their cows. This choice largely depends on lining up the farm’s peak pasture phase with the herd’s life cycle.
One strategy designed for cattle herds in the west is the “fifty-five days to grass” plan. The plan’s goal is line up three dates– when a calf is mature enough to start grazing, when a cow is ready to breed, and when a pasture provides the most nutrients.
Calf stomachs are mature enough to graze about three months after birth. When calves are born fifty-five days before new grass begins to grow, the grass has entered its peak nutritional phase by the time the calves are ready to start foraging.
Since a cow’s gestation period lasts about 285 days, farmers following the “fifty-five days to grass” plan need to have the cows bred about 340 days before new grass starts growing. This date lines up perfectly with the peak pasture phase by allowing the cows to eat highly-nutritious grass to “flush” for about a month before being bred.
In the Pacific Northwest, pastures typically enter their peak nutritional phases in May, June, and July. Based on those dates, here’s a rough example of a “fifty-five days to grass” schedule.
March 1 Target calving date
May 1 Pasture enters peak nutrition phase
May 21 Target breeding date
June 1 Calves begin grazing
Feeding Cascade CAttle and Sheep in Spring
While using spring grass strategically goes a long way toward producing a thriving herd, utilizing feeds alongside pasture helps cows stay healthy and helps calves grow strong. Here are a few great ways to use Cascade Cattle and Sheep strategically in the spring.
First, feeding Cascade Cattle and Sheep directly before cows give birth helps cows grow healthy calves during the lean late winter gestation period.
Second, feeding Cascade Cattle and Sheep directly after cows give birth helps promote a quick recovery and ensures the cows produce high-quality milk for their calves.
Third, feeding Cascade Cattle and Sheep during the “flushing” period right before a cow is bred helps get the cow into peak physical condition to ensure a healthy gestation period.
Fourth, feeding Cascade Cattle and Sheep to calves once they start grazing accelerates their growth and gets them off to a solid start.
While you’re making your cattle nutrition plan this spring, you really should add Cattle and Sheep to your lineup. With 18% fiber, 15% protein, 3% fat and the lowest price per pound in the feed store, Cascade Cattle and Sheep delivers a huge bang for your buck that helps you make the most of your herd’s crucial spring months.