GFM Network News


Don’t wait until the third trimester to improve 
condition and nutrition status of the cow.

Don’t delay on proper mineral feeding program

Important for the new calf as well as the next breeding season

The entire nine months of a beef cow’s pregnancy can be broken up into three stages; early, mid- and last trimester of gestation. During these first two stages, her unborn calf doesn’t require a lot of nutrients, so it doesn’t put a lot of pressure on the cow. However, this all changes in the last […] Read more

Dairy cows need a proper “dry” period with good nutrition in order for their body’s to recover before the next lactation.

Faraway dry cow program provides important break

High-producing cows need time to recover before next lactation period

As a young dairy nutritionist years ago, university research taught me that once a lactation cycle is completed, the dairy cow should be dried off, dry-treated and put onto a 60-day dry cow feeding program — an initial faraway stage of 40 days, and followed by a 20/21-day close-up stage. As a result many metabolic […] Read more


Midwinter inventory for swath grazing

Swath-grazing cattle without shelter often require 40-50 per cent more dietary energy

Barley swath-grazing has become a viable alternative and practical means of feeding a low-cost forage to overwintering pregnant beef cows. Since nutrient supplementation may be required later on as they approach calving, producers should take a midwinter look at the feed value of swaths to ensure all nutrient requirements are always met. It is well […] Read more

Calves in outdoor hutches will need extra feed, particularly during the coldest days of winter.

Hutch-housed calves need extra milk replacer in winter

There is a limit to how much cold that calves can handle

Despite the trend to build heated barns to raise young stock, there are still lots of outside hutches and cold barns to feed pre-weaned dairy calves. Many of these calves are raised solely on commercial milk replacer. As a dairy nutritionist, I review many of these milk replacer-feeding programs and make the necessary changes to […] Read more


Grazing corn is not an exact science

Grazed standing corn will need supplements

A great feed source, but added protein may be needed as winter progresses

Putting beef cows out to tramp through the snow to graze standing corn has become more popular in the last few years. It’s relatively low-cost forage which can make up a sizeable portion of a pregnant cow’s overwinter diet because whole corn plants (with ears) can provide a significant amount of dietary energy and protein. […] Read more

Many farms across Western Canada will likely be dealing with a certain amount of mouldy feed that can be fed in small amounts if blended off with better quality feed.

Vitti: Options for including mouldy feed in rations

Know what you have and blend it off with the good stuff


This year, not many people harvested and stored good-quality hay on the northern Prairies. A cool spring and droughty summer capped by a couple of feet of autumn snow forced many producers to harvest thousands of mouldy hay bales. For many, this is their only forage supply to overwinter beef cows. Fortunately, we can set […] Read more


Late fall pasture may fill cows up but are they getting enough protein?

Pregnant cows need their protein

Molasses lick-tubs can help maintain cow condition and keep fetuses growing

I was recently driving west through the southern Prairies and saw a beef cow herd grazing late-autumn straw-coloured pasture. I suspected the calves were probably just weaned, which simply puts these dams at their lowest dietary requirements. I believe that these particular cows were getting plenty to eat, but they were probably not getting enough […] Read more

Silage corn grown during drought can lead to feed quality and safety issues.

Drought-stricken corn can make dangerous silage

High nitrate levels, moulds and toxins might prevail


Much of this year’s corn crop across the southern Prairies has been once again hit by drought. My photograph of a southern Manitoba cornfield in mid-August shows one of the worst cornfields I have ever seen. It tasselled out early with curled grey leaves and no visible cobs on its stalk. Most whole plants were […] Read more


Regardless of growing condition, all grasses begin to decline in quality this time of year. A proper vitamin and mineral program helps to meet nutrient requirements.

Fall is no time to slack off on a livestock mineral program

Plenty of hidden benefits for overall herd health and reproduction

Since April, I’ve had the privilege to criss-cross the Prairies to witness the opposite effects of drought and continuous rainstorms upon hundreds of square miles of pasture. In some areas, the pastures were brown, short and by themselves didn’t produce enough feed to support cattle, while other regions were green, lush and had lots of […] Read more

This old textbook photo of a Venezuelan cow chewing a bone is an example of what cattle should not be doing to meet vitamin and mineral requirements.

Don’t force cattle to eat bones for phosphorus

It’s an important nutrient for overall animal health and reproduction

A long time ago in university, I came across a faded photograph in our animal science book (Animal Nutrition, Maynard et al, 1979) that showed a poor Venezuelan cow chewing on a bone. Its caption read that she suffered from phosphorus deficiency. I thought at the time that this poor animal was so skinny and […] Read more