4 Considerations for Third Trimester Nutrition

Nov 23, 2020

Tara Jo Bina
Countryside Feed Sales & Nutrition Professional

The third trimester is often where most focus on cow nutrition resides. Over 75% of fetal growth occurs in the last 90 days of pregnancy! Add on the cow preparing to calve, and gearing up to start lactation, there is a drastic increase in the nutritional requirements of the cow.

In the United States, the vast majority of calves are spring born, which means cows are either already in or will soon be entering their third trimester. There are a few things that are important to consider when deciding on the right program for supplementing cows through the last part of pregnancy:
  1. Body Condition Score (BCS)
Cows should score between 5 – 6 BCS in late pregnancy. Achieving ideal BCS gives cows adequate energy for the calving process, increased calf vigor, better colostrum quality, and a leg up on rebreeding for the next year’s calf crop! If cows and heifers are not carrying enough condition in the last trimester, feeding to improve BCS will benefit both the cow and calf.
  1. Cold Stress
Cold stress increases energy requirements in order to keep cows warm. Add increased third trimester requirements, and you can see how rapid weight loss can occur. Make sure to take cold stress into account when considering your supplement program.
  1. Forages Quantity
Many producers need to supplement forages to cows through the winter because there is not enough forage to graze. Taking into account the amount of hay on reserve is very important. If there will not be enough hay available you may need to consider purchasing more or adjusting your supplement program to reduce the amount of forages needed.
  1. Forage Quality
Winter is not a season known for lush green grass. Dormant grasses, crop residues, and dried hays do not contain the protein, energy, or vitamin and mineral content as green grass. Sampling your hay is a great way to know what forages are providing and what gaps a supplement needs to fill.

Contact your Countryside Feed representative to discuss an ideal winter supplement program for your operation. Whether you are looking for a self-feeder ration, a complete grain, or a mineral supplement to grind your own grain, Countryside Feed has a Purina®, Beef Builder®, or custom formulation option for you!

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