Skip to Main navigation Skip to Left navigation Skip to Main content Skip to Footer

University of Minnesota Extension

Extension > Extension in your Community > Stearns > County Agriculture Educator > Articles > Start Good Management Practices for Cows on Pasture Now

print icon email icon share icon

Start Good Management Practices for Cows on Pasture Now

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
May 17, 2017        
Source:  Emily Wilmes, Extension Educator-Livestock
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties

Start Good Management Practices for Cows on Pasture Now
By Emily Wilmes, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (5/17/2017) —Spring is here and summer is just around the corner, meaning beef producers have their animals grazing on pasture.  Late spring and early summer pasture provides essential nutrients for cows, so it’s crucial the pastures are properly managed.  Pasture management beginning in early spring can directly impact the body condition score of the cow, as well as her nursing calf and her conception rates post-calving.  Here are some tips for late spring and early summer pasture management. 

Design a plan for fly and pest control.  Flies and parasites can tie up nutrients, so the cow may be consuming what you think is enough, but she is falling behind.  Most successful fly control programs include prevention beginning at least 30 days prior to fly emergence in early spring. The process should then continue through 30 days after the area's first frost. Typically, prevention is needed March through October.

Provide continuous access to fresh, clean water.  We all know that water is always important, but it is especially critical during the summer months.  Providing access to fresh, clean and cool water in early spring and summer will help cows meet their increasing nutrient requirements. Research from the University of Nebraska estimates that water consumption should equal approximately 1 gallon per 100 pounds of body weight during cold weather and will double to nearly 2 gallons of water per 100 pounds of body weight during the hottest weather.  Additionally, lactating cows require nearly twice as much water compared to dry cows.

Create a flexible supplementation plan, as forage quality is always changing.  One way to fill pasture gaps in nutrients without over-supplementing is to use products with controlled consumption or intake modification. These products are formulated to help the cows consume supplements at the rates they need and maintain a consistent body condition score.

Lastly, introduce supplements early.  Usually, supplements are added in late summer, when body condition score has already started to decrease, which can be expensive.  For consistent conditioning, it is recommended to introduce supplement to the herd when cows have good BCS and when the pasture is still producing high-quality forage.


Emily Wilmes
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems - Livestock
(320) 255-6169
  • © Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy