Range Beef Cow Supplementation Information & Strategies

Range beef cattle production depends on the nutritional quality and quantity of available forage species. Winter and early spring months typically provide the least availability of high quality or nutritionally dense forage. During this time period on most operations, cows are expected to provide nutrients to the developing fetus during pregnancy, produce milk for a new calf after calving, and maintain or increase her physiological status during the postpartum period in order to conceive for the next production cycle.

Ongoing research projects are designed to profile the nutritional physiology involved in range beef cattle production, as well as developing new feeds and feeding strategies to supplement cattle during times of nutritional stress at an economical advantage. Currently there are four areas of special interest: Replacement heifer development, young cow post-partum supplementation, mature cow supplementation alternatives, and weaned calf management strategies.

Below are links to published general information, as well as, result driven publications derived from 20 years of research conducted on the Corona Range and Livestock Research Center.

  • Range Supplements - What We Have Learned
    A summary of range supplementation studies conducted at the Ft. Stanton Experimental Ranch (forerunner to the Corona Ranch) by Joe Wallace and Gene Parker. Published in the proceedings of the Cattle Growers Short Course, March 26, 1992.
  • 5 Places to Save, Places to Spend
    By Clint Peck, September 2008 BEEF Magazine. A very timely article to spur some thought into areas of production that can be adjusted or streamlined for lowering production costs.

Range Beef Cow Nutrition

Strategic Supplementation

  • Comparison of Pasture and Drylot Calf Preconditioning Programs
    A summary of a three study comparing a low-input pasture preconditioning system to a high-input drylot system of ~45 days evaluating calf performance and profit during the preconditioning phase and finishing phase. (CRLRC 2008 Field Day proceedings)
  • Planned Low-cost Supplementation
    A description of the strategy that the CRLRC has used since 1992 to effectively and economically provide supplementation our cow herd. (CRLRC 2005 Field Day proceedings)
  • The NMSU Small Supplement
    A summary of results comparing a low consumption, self-fed supplement that lowers feed costs while maintaining cow weight and body condition during gestation. (CRLRC 2005 Field Day proceedings)
  • Feeding Value of Walking Stick Cholla
    A summary of results investigating the nutritional value of cholla cactus during drought as an emergency feed source. (CRLRC 2005 Field Day proceedings)

CRLRC Graphics

  • CRLRC Management Timeline Graphic
    A timeline, outlining the yearly management of the CRLRC beef cow and range ewe operation. The graphic represents herd health, breeding and feeding considerations throughout the year. (CRLRC 2005 Field Day proceedings)

General Information

  • Using a Supplementation Program
    As a Grazing Management Tool. A short summary of altering your supplementation program to better utilize entire pastures. (NMSU CES Guide B-818, December 2009)
  • Beef Cow Supplement Decision Guide
    A great yes/no decision tree in a flowchart format. With three questions this guide can help assist in your decision to start or continue with supplementation and gives suggestions as to what level of protein and what rate fed. (Courtesy of Dr. Clay Mathis, NMSU Extension Livestock Specialist)
  • Managing and Feeding Beef Cows
    Using Body Condition Scores. A how-to in scoring beef cows for dividing into feeding groups to maximize reproductive performance and reducing feed costs. (NMSU CES Circular 575, November 2002)
  • Protein and Energy Supplementation
    to Beef Cows Grazing New Mexico Rangelands. A general guide to cow nutrition with explanations as to when and what supplement should be used. (NMSU CES Circular 564, January 2003)
  • Supplement Delivery Systems
    A guide to options in supplementing range beef cows for efficiency and economy. (NMSU CES Circular 571, August 2001)
  • Urea in Range Cattle Supplements
    A good reference describing the proper use of urea to lower feed costs without hindering rumen efficiency. (NMSU CES Circular 583, March 2003)
  • Early Weaning Beef Calves
    Early weaning calves can be a useful strategy to reduce forage requirements of range cows and can help improve cow condition and reproductive performance. (NMSU CES Guide B-126 August 2005)