Farmers should pregnancy-check their herds to identify open cows, then plan ahead for their winter feeding program.

So far, 2009 has been a great year for forage production in Kentucky with plenty of grass for grazing and even plenty to spare for hay making.

Most farmers have accumulated pasture to graze over the winter as well. But the previous two years of drought conditions still might have an affect on cows.

"The problem is the delayed effects of poor nutrition," said Roy Burris, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture beef specialist. "Last winter we were suffering from a feed shortage caused by two consecutive years of drought conditions which caused us to maintain our cows in less than optimum conditions."

Burris said pregnancy rates for spring-calving cows are lower than usual this year. Farmers should pregnancy-check their herds to identify open cows, then plan ahead for their winter feeding program.

"Plan to give cows some supplemental feed from calving time until grass is adequate to maintain good body condition going into the next breeding season," he said. "Farmers should have adequate hay supplies, but they should still calculate their needs to be sure."

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