As we head into spring and think about turning cows and calves onto pasture, we should also think about how to help those calves develop their digestive system. As most know, calves are born without a functioning rumen. In fact, they are technically born as a functional monogastric (single stomach). As the calf ages and begins eating solid foods, the rumen begins to develop and becomes a functioning organ.

Garlic is becoming an increasingly trendy ingredient in livestock feed due to its acclaimed ability to deter a number of pests. By reducing the insect load on an animal, you can significantly reduce the stress that hinders the animal’s performance. Aside from being an organic pesticide, there are other benefits that garlic can have when included in your livestock diets.

When discussing conception or pregnancy rates, the cow is often the center of attention. Usually, we are too quick to judge the dam, which can lead to unnecessary culling. But what if we stopped to consider the bull? After all, he is half of the equation. Bull fertility is paramount to a successful breeding program since an individual bull services numerous females. Thus, a deficiency in the bull has a greater impact on herd productivity than a single female.

Ranchers in the area have probably started their winter-feeding programs already. Just as they say in Game of Thrones, "winter is coming." I’ve mentioned feed testing in passing quite often over these last few months, so I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the topic in greater depth. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'll say it again; feed testing is one of the most important management practices on the farm.

Vitamin E has become increasingly popular among horse owners, probably because of its ability to help performance horses recover from exercise quicker. This vitamin is highly effective in combating numerous effects of free radical products that can harm membranes and cell components. Unlike vitamin C, the horse's body cannot synthesize vitamin E, making it crucial to supplement it in the diet.

Zinc is regarded as one of the most important minerals in livestock diets. In the 1950’s, the importance of zinc was discovered when numerous disorders like skin, hair, and wool abnormalities, immune dysfunction, reproductive failure were observed in deficient animals.

Body condition scoring is one of the most useful tools for producers to evaluate the nutritional status of the herd. This hands-on assessment uses a numerical scale based on the feel of the animal in addition to a visual appraisal. Determining cattle condition using a hands-on method can be particularly useful in our harsh Canadian winters since the winter coat on cattle can be misleading.

As the days begin to shorten and the nights begin to cool, it’s a telltale sign that summer is starting to wind down. Although many producers in the area still have a few months of grass grazing ahead of them, strategizing for winter feeding is likely a thought in many minds.