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Body condition of cows at calving affects pregnancy rate and breeding date. Body condition at calving of spring calving cows wintered on range is influenced by fall body condition. A Montana study showed that lactating cows grazing range lost body condition during August and September. The loss of body condition was attributed to an inadequate consumption of crude protein. Diet samples of cattle grazing Sandhills range during August to October contain 6% to 8% crude protein. Loss of body condition of spring calving, primiparous cows grazing Nebraska Sandhills range during the fall is a concern. Subirrigated meadow regrowth is a higher quality forage than upland range in the fall. Diet samples collected from cattle grazing regrowth from subirrigated meadow during October contained approximately 11% crude protein.
Two potential ways of maintaining or increasing cow body condition during the fall is to wean the calf, thus reducing the cow's nutrient requirements, or increase the potential to meet crude protein requirements with higher quality forage. Our objectives were to determine if September weaning or grazing subirrigated meadows would improve body condition score of spring calving primiparous beef cows during September and October. and to determine nutrient intakes by dry and lactating cows grazing native range or subirrigated meadow regrowth.