Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

December 1995


Published for Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XIV December 5, 6 and 7, 1995, Gering, Nebraska.


Thin cows on low-quality roughages are the most challenging group of animals to deal with for beef cow producers in the Northern Great Plains. Typically, this situation occurs during the late fall/winter/early spring months, when the additional nutrient requirements for fetal development or lactation are needed. In this region, cows are often exposed to unfavorable weather conditions, which also increases nutrient requirement. Since thin cows have less outside fat, and therefore less insulation, they have to expend more nutrients to maintain body temperature than cows with adequate body condition. When these nutrient requirements are combined with the need to increase body weight gain in order to prevent calving and rebreeding problems, meeting the energy requirements may be an impossible task with low-quality forage. A much better situation would be to enter this period with cows in satisfactory condition to prevent the need for additional weight gain.