Monthly Archives: October 2009

Pinkeye Prevention

By Diane Alu

This summer was a very wet summer for most of us in the Northeast, which made lots of hay (if you could bale it up dry) and lots of flies. Flies do not cause pink eye. They just help spread it. A fly can be a carrier for up to three days of feeding on infected eye discharge, so wherever that fly has been, it can bring along someone else’s problems with it to your herd, which is not a good thing.

We have had just 2 cases of pink eye since we started with the Miniature Herefords, and only one that was persistent(needing more than one treatment). I learned a lot about pink eye that, I confess, I really didn’t know. I thought I would pass that information along to you.

Pink eye is caused by the infectious bacterium Moraxella bovis. This bacterium is covered by tiny hair-like structures called pili, which allow the bacterium to literally adhere to the eye, either the conjunctiva (the white part) or the cornea, preventing it from being washed away by tearing. The excessive tearing can harbor some shed bacterium, and that is how it is spread, from cow to cow, or, neighbor’s cow to your herd. Excessive tearing is the first sign of an infection; the eye becomes sensitive to light,
so the animal keeps the affected eye closed, or may seek shade. The center of the cornea appears white in a day or two, followed by cornea erosion and ulceration. If left untreated, the cornea can rupture, causing blindness.

Animals who do recover may exhibit permanent scarring, known as “blueeye,” or scars on the cornea. While some animals recover completely on their own, many will have a permanent scarring with limited sight, or blindness. One or both eyes may be affected.

Early detection and treatment is key to preventing permanent damage to the corona. Direct treatment to the eye and an antibiotic is usually sufficient for mild cases. For more advanced cases, antibiotic can be injected into the eyelid under the first layer of white, or conjunctiva; this is also quite effective. If the infection is advanced and/
or the animal is quite valuable (which, to me, is every animal), an eye injection with suturing of the inner eye lid (providing structural support that may keep the cornea from rupturing) may be the answer. This procedure takes skill and the complete immobilization of the animal (imagine someone sewing up your inner eye-lid). Our vet cross-
tied our haltered and penned animal and sedated him so he was relaxed and easier to work on. After injecting the eye, he sewed up the inner eye-lid with great care, gave him a shot of antibiotic, and then released him. After 30 minutes or so he was walking around slowly as if nothing had happened. Within 10 days the sutures
were absorbed, the eye opened, and our animal was spared the possibility of a ruptured cornea and blindness.

Now about that pigment question: unpigmeneted (white) eyelids and hair do not absorb ultraviolet light, therefore increasing the susceptibility of the animal to the organism that causes pinkeye….the organisms do not like surfaces that do absorb ultraviolet light, such as pigment, so pigment around the eyes is a good thing, and should be part of a preventative breeding program.

What can you do to help prevent pink eye in your animals? Breed for pigment around the eyes. Mow mature pastures so animals can graze close to the ground unhindered by (possibly contaminated and irritating) stems and seed heads. Practice fly control. Vaccinate your animals well before the fly season with a pink eye vaccination (this has mixed results, ask your veterinarian) and provide ample shade for animals. Reduce stress, as a stressed animal will be more susceptible to illness and infection, just like us. Look after your stock daily with care.

**Information contained in this article is for general
information purposes only. Contact your local vet for
specific recommendations


By Peggy Joseph-Potter RN, BSN, MHA

Vaccinations are one of the basic building blocks for a healthy herd. The implementation of a routine program can simplify your life and prevent poor outcomes including costly veterinary visits and animal demise in the future. While most experienced breeders may perform their own vaccinations, it is hoped this article will provide some additional insight for both the new and veteran breeder.
Types of Vaccine
There are two general categories of vaccines— live products and killed products. Modified-live IBR, BVD, PI3 and Bangs are examples of live products. These vaccines are sensitive to light, disinfectants, and heat, so boil needles and syringes and do not use chemical disinfectants. Do not reconstitute these vaccines more than 1 hour before use. Protect them from sunlight and keep them cool. (An ice pack and towel covered bucket can accomplish both and are usually readily available.)

Killed vaccine examples are blackleg, malignant edema, red water, enterotoxaemia, black disease, and leptospirosis. These vaccines are less sensitive, and you can use chemical disinfectants in your needles and syringes; however they should also be kept cool, and protected from sunlight.

Vaccines give longer immunity than serums or antitoxins but usually do not protect until about 2 weeks after administration. Live vaccines sometimes give better and longer-lasting immunity than killed products. Serums or antitoxins protect for only about 2 weeks, but do protect as soon as administered.

When using modified-live IBR and BVD vaccines, give them separately (2 weeks apart) to prevent calves from getting sick from the vaccine. Be cautious of using ML-BVD vaccine in a previously BVD-exposed herd or an unvaccinated pregnant cow. Killed vaccines give different lengths of immunity. Some, such as redwater, need to be repeated every 6 months or more often in severely infected areas; others only need an annual booster. Follow the product directions and consult your veterinarian for questions regarding vaccine usage.

Maternal Immunity

Calves are born with very limited resistance against infectious diseases. Calves receive temporary resistance through the transfer of maternal antibodies from the cow to the calf via the first milk or colostrum. Cows develop specific resistance against an organism only by vaccination or contracting the disease itself. When the cow produces antibodies against a disease this immunity is passed to the calf via the colostrum; this form of resistance is only effective for about 4-5 months depending on the amount
produced by the cow and the amount absorbed by the calf’s gut. This important factor demonstrates the need to vaccinate calves at about this age or at least two weeks prior to weaning. We administer TSV-2 Intranasal to our newborn calves; this MLV provides protection against IBR-PI3 for approximately six months or until weaning vaccinations are provided.

Handling the Vaccine:

  • Read all label directions carefully prior to using any vaccine.
  • During use, keep vaccine cool and out of sunlight.
  • When mixing modified live virus vaccines, mix enough for two hours or less.
  • Use transfer needles for mixing modified live virus vaccines.
  • Shake bottles well each time a syringe is filled.
  • Never combine vaccines in one syringe if not packaged as a combination vaccine

Clean syringes are important:

  • Clean syringes after each use.
  • Never use disinfectants in modified live virus vaccine syringes.
  • Use sterile or boiling water to clean syringes.
  • Use 1/2 to 3/4 inch, 16-gauge or smaller needles for Sub-Q injections.
  • Use 1 to 1 1/2 inch, 16-gauge or smaller needles for intramuscular injections.
  • Change needles every 10 to 15 animals or when bent, burred, or dull.
  • Never enter a bottle of vaccine with a used or dirty needle.

Giving the injection:

  • Give all injections in front of the shoulder in middle neck region.
  • Give all injections Sub-Q unless the product label specifies it must be given intramuscularly.
  • Use tent technique for Sub-Q injections.
  • Vary injection sites between both sides of the neck.
  • Remove air from the syringe prior to injecting vaccine.
  • Avoid giving intramuscular injections in the nuchal ligament, the large ligament at top of neck.
  • Keep Epinephrine on hand for management of allergic reactions.
  • Record the date vaccines are given, animal identification numbers, and if multiple vaccines are given, the site of each injection should be documented.

You may also want to record the serial and/or lot numbers and vaccine expiration dates. This will save time should a vaccine-related problem occur in the future. Vaccines are more effective against some diseases than others. No vaccine is 100 percent effective as effectiveness depends on conditions such as the animal’s age, passive immunity at time of vaccination, stress level, diseases, and other factors that are not fully understood. Cattle should be fever-free and demonstrate no obvious signs or symptoms of illness at the time of injection in order to prevent vaccine-related illness.

This year we combined our annual vaccination program with our hoof trimming, inspection, and insecticide application. Coordination and preparation on our behalf was mandatory however we feel it definitely reduced the stress on the animals and ourselves. With the help of our trimmer, all injections were given safely while each animal was
secured within the chute. This is an ideal time to perform these tasks for the novice breeder or for those who do not have access to their own chute.

Boehringer Ingelheim. (2007). Vaccine Basicis Retrieved
August 24, 2009, from Boehringer Ingleheim, Vetmedica,
Lincoln, D. S. (n.d.). Beef Cattle Handbook-Cattle Vaccines
and their uses. Retrieved from Iowa Beef Center.
Powell, J., Jones, S., Gadeberry, S., & and Troxel, T.
(n.d.). Beef Cattle Herd Health Vaccination Schedule.
Retrieved August 24, 2009, from University of Arkansas,
Agricultural Extension.

Peggy and her husband, Bob Potter, own and operate
PJ Ranch LLC in Winton, California where she serves as
the Vice President of Animal Health. They have been
Miniature Hereford owners and active participants in the
MHBA since 2002. She is also employed as a critical care
nurse for a local medical center.
Information contained in this article is for general
information purposes only. Contact your local vet for
specific recommendations, especially when using live
or modified live vaccines.

Calving Ease or Calving Difficulty?

By Greg Schulz

What size calf can my Miniature Hereford Cow or Heifer have without difficulty?
There have been many conversations about this subject among many breeders. There have been numerous studies performed on standard size cattle by numerous universities. On the surface this may seem like a very simple question, but the answer is not quite so simple. There are several factors that may affect calving difficulty, some of these include:
-Birth weight of the calf
-Pelvic area of the cow/heifer
-Gestation Length
-Sex of Calf
-Inadequate heifer development
-Body condition of cow/heifer at time of calving
-Abnormal hormone profiles at time of birth
-Abnormal presentation of calf at time of birth.
According to most studies and my own experience birth weight may be the greatest cause for dystocia (calving difficulty). Body condition of the cow or heifer at the time of
calving is another consideration. There are some breeders who believe that by reducing nutrient intake during latter stages of gestation, thus reducing body condition of the cow will result in lower birth weights and less dystocia. Research has shown that while this lowers the birth weight, it does not necessarily reduce the incidents of dystocia, but does result in a weaker cow/heifer, and a weaker calf. Cows and heifers should be in a body condition 5 at calving. Birth weight is a hereditary trait. When looking for
replacement heifers and herd sires you should look beyond just the parents, but look to the grandparents also for birth weights. Just because a given bull or heifer has a low birth weight does not ensure they will pass this trait on to their offspring. However if their parents and grandparents also had low birth weights, then this will increase the accuracy of predicting their ability to pass on the low birth weight trait. There has been some study done on the pelvic area of cows and heifers. It is worth mentioning however that frame size of the animal must be taken into consideration when using pelvic area measurements. Heifers with abnormal pelvic areas should be culled as there is a high degree of probability that these heifers may be subject to dystocia. Heifer development is also crucial for low incidence of dystocia. Heifers should achieve 85% of their mature size by the time they give birth to their first calf. Early maturing heifers should achieve this size by 24 months of age. Slower maturing heifers may not achieve this till they reach 36 months of age.
-Just because a heifer is cycling does not mean she should be bred.
-Just because a heifer can be bred does not mean she should be bred.
There are multiple reasons a heifer may develop early or late. These factors include:
-Genetic potential of the animal.
-Nutrition availability allowing the heifer to grow to her genetic potential.
Some other factors that could be considered when looking to improve calving ease include:
1. Head size of herd bulls and replacement heifers. Smaller heads may improve calving ease.
2. Shape of head of herd bulls and replacement heifers. Heads that are more elongated may provide more calving ease than heads that are wide and short.
3. Neck length. Longer necks that fit smoothly into the shoulders may provide more calving ease than a short-necked wide-shouldered bull or heifer.
So the question once again is: “What size calves are the right size for my Miniature Herefords?” That depends on your cows and heifers.
How to reduce calving difficulty:
1. Breed heifers to calving ease bulls with verified low birth weights in their pedigrees.
2. Develop heifers to prebreeding target weights
3. Ensure that heifers are in good body condition going into the calving season

4. Cull heifers with abnormal pelvic measurements. When you are ready to work on your calving size, the first investment a breeder should invest in is a reliable scale. A good reliable set of scales is an invaluable investment that will help you establish your birth weights, w e a n i n g w e i g h t s , y e a r l i n g weights and the current weights of your cows, etc…

As you select bulls and replacement heifers, you should consider all traits throughout your selection. Single trait selection may hurt your future more than help it. Once
you reach your threshold on birthweights there is not a need to continue looking for smaller birth weights. Your goal should be to have birth weights small enough to reduce dystocia, but still the largest calf your cows and heifers are capable of having. All things being equal, small calves will be smaller at weaning and smaller as yearlings. At Schulz Farm we look for heifers to calve with 40 to 42 pound calves. Our heifers are able to give birth to calves of this size without assistance, these calves hit the ground vigorous, ready to nurse and get busy with life. Our calves are born in pastures without assistance or intervention from people. Our mature cows are capable of giving birth to calves that weigh 50 pounds. Our average for the past two years on mature cows ranging from 000 to 1 frame scores was 47.6 pounds. We have found that the majority of our cows in a body condition 5, are capable of giving birth to calves ranging from 6 to 8% of her body weight:
900 pound cow = 54 to 72 pound calf
850 pound cow = 51 to 68 pound calf
800 pound cow = 48 to 64 pound calf
750 pound cow = 45 to 60 pound calf
700 pound cow = 42 to 56 pound calf
650 pound cow = 39 to 52 pound calf
600 pound cow = 36 to 48 pound calf
550 pound cow = 33 to 44 pound calf
500 pound cow = 30 to 40 pound calf
Your birth weights may differ from ours. If your cows are able to calve with minimal dystocia, then your calving ease is right where you want it. You may not need to reduce your birth weights.
Resources include: