Category Archives: Health

That Cow Wasn’t Supposed to Calve Today

For most beef producers, the final days of the last
trimester of pregnancy for their cow herd is here. For
some early bird producers, calves are already bucking
and jumping. Winters like this one are great (keep your
fingers crossed) and temporarily lay to rest all the
discussion of when to calve.
Often, producers question when a particular cow is
due. Most producers have a handy calving table that
projects the calving date of the cow based on the day
she was bred. For example. the IRM Pocket Reference
guide shows a cow bred May 21 is due to calve on
March 1.
In recent years, the North Dakota State University
Dickinson Research Extension Center has targeted
March 1 as the start of the calving season. Do the cows
begin calving on March 1? Unfortunately, the cows do
not read the tables. Basically, a cow will calve when she
and her calf decide the time is right.
We have all seen the old cow that gets up, lays
down, gets up, lays down, walks over to the corner,
walks back, lays down, twitches her tail and calves two
weeks later. Or the cow with no udder that calves in
what seems to be minutes and successfully produces a
normal, well fed day-old calf.
A current trend is to advertise cows for sale with
predicted calving dates. These dates were projected
based on ultrasound measurements and are used to imply
the cows or heifers should calf over a period of seven to
10 days. Establishing the age of a developing fetus with
ultrasound is very accurate but gestational age and
calving date have little in common.
At the center, ultrasound records help us sort cows
based on 21 day reproductive cycles. No attempt is
made to actually guess which day a cow is going to calf.
In reviewing cow records, center research specialist
Keith Helmuth compiled all the cows with absolute
breeding dates and sire of calf. In other words, 462 cows
were artificially inseminated, and conceived to the unit of
semen she was inseminated with. Because of the
different breeds used, the parentage of the calf is not
questionable. No DNA test or judge was needed to
identify the father.
Of these 462 cows, the average gestation length was
282.5 days. Of the 426 cows, only 87 actually calved on
the expected date. These cows were expected to calf
283 days after breeding or March 1st. In reality, the first
live calf arrived Feb. 11, then one on the 13th and one on
the 16th. Three calves arrived on Feb. 17, three on the
19th, one on the 20th, three on the 21st, nine on the 22nd,
eight on the 23rd and a rush on the 24th produced 17
calves.
The calving crew is starting to sweat. On the 25th,
19 calves were born, 36 on the 26th, 38 on the 27th, 39
on the 28th and finally the due date, March 1, 87 calves
were born. More sweat, despite the cold weather. On
March 2, 53 cows calve, on the 3rd, 25 calves, on the
4th, 16 calves, on the 5th, 22 calves, on the 6th, 20
calves, on the 7th, 15 calves, and on the 8th, only four
calves. Just as there appeared to be a let up, on the 9th,
15 calves were born, on the 10th, 12 calves, and on the
11th, one calf. Finally, a slow down and the season
finished with two calves on the 12th, three calves on the
13th, four calves on the 14th, and one calve each on the
15th, 16th and 17th. The last two calves were born on
the 19th of March.
All 462 cows conceived on the same day, but the
calving season lasted 32 days. Approximately, 80 percent
calved within a 11 day window, 95 percent in a 19 day
window and 98 percent within a 28 day window. If you
want to bet me you know when your cow is going to
calf, I will bet you she won’t calf on the day she is due.
Cows don’t calve in a 7 to 10 day window, no matter
who thinks they should.
Happy calving. May you find all your ear tags.
Your comments are always welcome at
www.BeefTalk.com. For more information, contact the
North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association,
1133 State Avenue, Dickinson, ND 58601 or go to
www.CHAPS2000.com on the Internet. In
correspondence about this column, refer to BT0078.

“Hardwear Disease”

‘Hardware disease’ isn’t fun for the cow or veterinarian
April 18, 2011|Bill Croushore|The Daily American, Somerset, PA
·
As a veterinarian, a good portion of my time is spent diagnosing and treating diseases of cattle. One of the most interesting diseases we encounter in cows is aptly named “hardware disease.”

Being nerdy scientific types, veterinarians had to give it a Latin name: traumatic reticuloperitonitis. The English translation means that there was trauma to the reticulum that resulted in peritonitis. I know, that wasn’t much of a translation.

Hardware disease happens when a bovine eats a sharp metal object such as a nail or wire. Cattle are very indiscriminate eaters, so it isn’t uncommon for them to swallow such an object.

If the unsuspecting cow eats a nail or wire, it will end up in the chamber of the stomach called the reticulum. Unlike the big fermentation chamber the rumen, the reticulum’s function is to sort the feed. Feed that is of sufficiently small particle size can exit but larger material is retained to be regurgitated and chewed on again.

Once inside the reticulum, the metallic object could poke through the wall and wreak havoc inside the abdomen. Immediately adjacent to the reticulum is the cow’s heart, separated only by the diaphragm. One of the manifestations of hardware disease is heart involvement.

It is quite unfortunate for both the cow and the farmer to see a case of hardware disease with heart involvement. The disease is invariably fatal if it involves the heart and it also renders the animal unfit for slaughter since there is likely to be bacteria in the bloodstream.

But not all cases of hardware disease end with heart involvement. It is, in fact, uncommon. The usual manifestation is a syndrome called “vagal indigestion.” Sorry, there is no catchy English translation for this one. A cow with vagal indigestion, as viewed from her rear, looks like a “papple,” half pear and half apple. These cows have difficulty emptying the rumen of feed.

So, when we see a cow with the characteristic papple shape and other signs of hardware disease, we treat the animal with a magnet. If you’re picturing the huge electromagnet that Wile E. Coyote might use to snag the roadrunner, it’s not that type of magnet.

Actually, we get the cow to swallow a strong magnet that’s about half the size of a hot dog. Once down her gullet, it will be retained in the reticulum — the same place as the wire. With a little bit of luck, the magnet will latch onto the offending piece of steel and spare the cow further problems. It will stay in the cow for the rest of her days.

The magnet trick, while easy, is not successful every time. Sometimes the offending metal is aluminum and won’t stick to the magnet and sometimes the magnet just fails to pull it out. Those times that the magnet fails to remove the metal, we might attempt surgery to cure the papple-shaped bovine.

The surgery is really no fun for either the surgeon or the patient. To remove the piece of metal, we have to cut into the distended rumen. The stinky contents rush out under pressure and coat the barn floor, the surgeon and anything else within range. But once in the rumen, the surgeon can reach down deep inside the cow, find the reticulum and check for the wire.

As dramatic as it sounds, the recovery is even more dramatic. Sometimes, as soon as the wire is pulled out, the cow commences ruminating again, even before the hole in her rumen is sutured shut. Unfortunately, hardware disease in just one of several causes for the papple-shaped cow. None of the others respond as well to surgery.

Grazing season soon will be upon us. As you’re driving down the back roads admiring the beasts in the pastures, please don’t discard any metallic objects into the fields. Both the cows and their veterinarians would appreciate it.

(Dr. Bill Croushore is a veterinarian with White Oak Veterinary Clinic in Berlin, and services farms in Somerset, Bedford, Westmoreland and Fayette counties. If you have a question for the veterinarian, send it to whiteoakvetclinic@gmail.com.)

Pinkeye Prevention

By: Leah Lee, DVM
Carson County Veterinary Clinic

Many producers deal with Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis or pinkeye. It is highly infectious and generally a herd problem. Young cattle, particularly Herefords and crosses are predisposed. The bacterial organisms isolated in cases of pinkeye have been identified as Moraxella bovis, Moraxella ovis, and possibly Mycoplasma bovoculi. This is a treatable disease, but it causes production loss by decreasing average daily gain and milk production.

Pinkeye is more common in the summer months. The increased dust, pasture stubble, and flies cause trauma to the eye and create a place for the bacteria to grow. Pinkeye lesions first appear in the center of the eye. In the beginning of the disease process, you may notice squinting, increased tear production, and reddening of the eye. As the lesion progresses, the eye will turn a blue or gray color and an ulcer will develop. If left untreated, the ulcer may deepen until the eye ruptures or causes blindness. Mild cases may heal, leaving a scar.

In very early cases of pinkeye, your veterinarian can inject medication in the tissue around the eye. Tetracycline, a long acting antibiotic, is also used because it is secreted in the tears. Repeated treatments may be necessary. Be sure to visit with your veterinarian, especially if the problem persists or continues to spread to other cattle. Eye patches are helpful to reduce spreading of the bacteria by flies and close contact. The patch shades the eye from the sun and provides a cleaner environment to heal.

Prevention practices need to be established. First, separate any affected animals from the rest of the herd. Fly control is also important. There are several options on the market. Insecticide ear tags will help control face flies. Use ear tags only during the fly season and then remove them to prevent resistance. An insect growth regulator feed additive is also helpful to decrease the fly population, and it is available mixed in mineral drums. The additive is eaten and then passed into the manure. The medication prevents the fly larvae from developing into adult flies. Controlling weeds and brush in the pastures will also help decrease trauma to the eye.

Pinkeye vaccinations are available. The use of these products has been questionable, because studies have shown that the vaccines do not significantly decrease the incidence of the disease. Since there is more than one potential cause, the bacteria in the vaccine may not be the one causing infection in your herd. Additionally, the cost of the vaccine may not offset your production loss. You will need to discuss the pros and cons of using these vaccines with your veterinarian to decide if they are right for your herd production practices.

The bovine eye has a wonderful ability to heal. Fly control, early detection of disease and treatment are the keys to dealing with pinkeye. Your veterinarian can help you make a plan for disease prevention and control in your herd.

Normal Parturition (Calving)

Normal Parturition (Calving)
By Sheila Lindsay

The average beef cow is pregnant for 280 days. Signs of approaching parturition can be seen during the last month of gestation. Growth of the mammary glands becomes very apparent. A sinking around the tailhead due to relaxation of pelvic ligaments will make the tailhead appear more prominent. The vulva with soften and become more swollen. Mucus may be seen stringing from the vulva. The combination of these signs are often termed “springing”.

Most cows will try to leave the herd and seek a place of seclusion for the birth. At the beginning of the birthing process a small bubble (the allanto-chorion) is seen protruding from the lips of the vulva. The “water bag” has a similar appearance to a water balloon. This should not be confused with a vaginal prolapse which is much thicker and has an appearance of swollen tissues. Once the water bag appears there should be a steady increase in contraction strength along with a decrease in contraction intervals. Depending on how far you are from a veterinarian or other person capable of dealing with birthing problems, or dystocia, will dictate how long to let the birthing process continue without intervention. Once the bubble is seen, the calf should be out within 2 hours.

If the birthing process does not progress, help should be summoned within 2 hours. If only a tail is presented to the vulva, a breech should be suspected and the cow will also need assistance. Once the torso of the calf has cleared the pelvis the amniotic sac must break to allow the calf to breathe. Occasionally this must be done manually. Usually the amniotic sac breaks as the calf and/or the cow move. As the hind legs are expelled the umbilical chord breaks and the calf is free from the cow.

Weather permitting, the cow and calf should not be disturbed at this time so they may bond. The cows licking will dry the calf and stimulate the baby to its feet. Ideally the calf should be up and nursing within a couple hours. At this time we usually treat the navel with iodine and weigh and measure the calf.

MHBA ANIMAL HEALTH SERIES Foliage and feed foibles-Grass Tetany

By Peggy Joseph-Potter RN, BSN, MHA

Spring rains bring burgeoning foliage and for most beef producers the ever important lush green grass. While this welcome addition may delight many a farmer, it is not without a sinister side. Grass tetany is a feed related metabolic disorder which can prove harmful and at times lethal for cattle.
Grass tetany, “grass staggers,” wheat pasture poisoning, or hypomagnesaemia, can be a problem in the spring when immature grass is prolific. This disorder is more prevalent in older lactating cows as it is theorized they are less able to mobilize their magnesium storage from their bones than their more capable counterparts. High nitrogen fertilization reduces magnesium availability, especially on soils high in potassium or aluminum. Grass tetany occurs most frequently in the spring; often it follows a period of cooler temperatures such as those between 45 and 60°F, causing the grass to grow rapidly. This condition is also seen in the fall with new growth of cool season grass or wheat pastures.
The greatest risk for grass tetany is when pastures soils are low in available magnesium (Mg), high in available potassium and high in nitrogen. Pastures where a significant amount of manure has been applied often have this mineral imbalance and are considered more vulnerable. Soil testing can aide in the analysis of such pastures to determine what nutrients need to be added to prevent the onset of this metabolic disorder. While the name denotes grass and wheat as the culprits, grass tetany can occur from any sort of foliage including orchard grass, perennial ryegrass, timothy, tall fescue, crested wheat grass, brome grass, Kentucky bluegrass, annual ryegrass and small grain (wheat, oats, barley, triticale and rye) pastures. It can also occur when livestock are wintered on low Mg grass hay or corn stock. Other factors which have been associated with this disease include low levels of Mg and high protein and potassium levels in the forage.
Common factors present with grass tetany include the following:
Animals are usually grazing grass dominant pasture or lush cereal crops, often without any hay supplementation.
Cold and wet windy weather with little or no shelter, resulting in short periods of fasting.
Animals are either fat or losing condition or very thin.
Animals recently moved to a different paddock.
Heavy use of nitrogen and/or potash fertilizer on pasture.
Cows in peak lactation are most commonly affected, but dry cows and, under certain conditions, beef steers, may also suffer.
Symptoms: In the early stages, animals are observed to walk very stiffly, with lost flexibility of their hind legs. It is this swaying gait which gives the impression that the animal is staggering, hence the English name “grass staggers.” Animals may have an over-alert appearance, being excitable and aggressive. The animal has no appetite and looks mournful. Its eyes are glazed and bulging to a certain extent. In the latent stages the animals progresses to convulsions, high fever and if left untreated will be found down with an unlikely survival.
Physical symptoms include:
Muscles: Stiff with contraction of the tail
Muzzle: Mouth close and difficulty to open; grinding of the teeth; frothing at the mouth
Eyes: Wild, blood shot, frequently rolling
Head: Thrown back
Sensitivity: Increased
Pulse: Feeble and rapid
Udder: Normal with no extensive softness
Temperature: Normal or high (104)
Treatment: When symptoms are observed, prompt treatment by a veterinarian is required. The intravenous injection of a combined calcium and magnesium solution (350ml) under the skin in the area behind the shoulder and over the ribs is most effective. Massaging the area well after injecting the solution will spread the fluid and aid its rapid absorption into the blood stream. Treated animals should be given adequate shelter and identified so that a response to treatment can be monitored. In some situation, repeat treatment maybe indicated.

Cattle affected by grass tetany often relapse and die or become ‘downers’ and eventually have to be destroyed. Time is of paramount importance to success of treatment. Prompt identification and initiation of medication and stress reduction related to weather improve treatment efficacy. Often affected animals do not eat – this can be a very serious complication, especially in pregnant cattle which often succumb to pregnancy toxemia and die.
Prevention: To prevent grass tetany cattle should be feed a high Mg supplement or free-choice minerals. Magnesium may be added to grain, protein or liquid supplements. Magnesium sulfate is the most palatable source and since magnesium stored in the body is not rapidly available it must be supplied at least every second day during the “danger period.”
Grass tetany blocks provide magnesium as a palatable ‘lick’. A major disadvantage of this method is that all the animals may not consume sufficient magnesium. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions concerning the number of cows per block. When buying blocks, be sure that they are recommended for the prevention of grass tetany.
Feed mineral supplements that contain magnesium. Commercial mineral mixtures containing 10-15% magnesium are available for feeding during periods of increased grass tetany probability. Cattle need to consume 6-12 oz/head/day of this mineral.
Feed mineral mixtures with Iodine and Cobalt 30 percent bone meal or dicalcium phosphate, 30 percent Magnesium Oxide, and 10 percent dried Molasses. This mixture provides about 18 percent Magnesium.

Epsom salts or magnesium chloride may be added to the water supply. The salts can also be added at the rate of 60g per cow per day (60 g is about two level tablespoons). The dose must be split and added to the water on two occasions during the day. The normal water flow should be maintained. The capacity of the trough should be at least nine quarts per cow so that the salts are sufficiently diluted. Cattle will scour if they get more than 140 g of Epsom salts per day. Also, because cattle don’t like the taste, the Epsom salts need to be added gradually over 2-3 weeks. There are several disadvantages in using this method. Epsom salts are unpalatable and not readily accepted by stock. In winter, water consumption is variable due to the high moisture content of the feed and as a result insufficient salts may be ingested.
Drenching stock with magnesium oxide or Epsom salts mixed in water is an effective but time consuming, method. The daily rate is 60g/cow mixed in 100 ml water. Epsom salts may be mixed with bloat treatments but the volume of water will need to be increased if such a mixture is used. The magnesium oxide drench mixture must be constantly shaken to prevent it settling out.
Magnesium oxide (Magnesia) may be added to feed fed in the bail at the rate of 45-50 g per cow per day but there are indications that levels greater than 30g per cow per day may predispose the cows to Salmonella.
Remove animals from pasture or limit grazing during periods of rapid growth. Allow access to hay or dry pasture. Also, producers may want to limit grazing of the temporary winter pastures when moving cattle directly from poor quality frosted grass pastures. A rapid change in feed can cause digestive upsets and nutritional stress.
Fertilization suggestions: Fertilizers rich in potassium and nitrogen reduce the availability of magnesium from the pasture, and increase the risk of grass tetany. So avoid grazing these pastures soon after fertilizer application. On soils that need liming, use dolomitic limestone. If lime is not needed, magnesium can be included in mixed fertilizers. Do not exceed the recommended level of applications for nitrogen and potassium on winter pastures for grazing consequently, these fertilizer elements should not be applied in excess on temporary winter pastures. Follow recommendations based on soil test results.
Bibliography
Grass Tetany, Grass Stagger. (2011, October 6). Retrieved March 15, 2012, from Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, Environment.
Allison, C. (n.d.). Controlling Grass Tetany in Livestock. Retrieved March 15, 2012, from Cooperative Services, College Ag and Home Ecomonics, New Mexico Universtity.
Haynes, N. B. (1978). Keeping Livestock Healthly. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, L.L.C.
Thomas, H. S. (1998). Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle. Storey Publishing.
Y.C.Newman, M. (2010, October). Grass Tetany. Retrieved March 15, 2012, from Agonomy Department,Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Ag Science: ifas.ufl.edu
Biography
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.

MHBA ANIMAL HEALTH SERIES Good Health is More than Skin Deep

By Peggy Joseph-Potter RN, BSN, MHA

Skin conditions in cattle can not only be unsightly, irritating and annoying but some can have more serious effects on your livestock leading to significant economic losses. Treating these conditions can range from old tried and true methods to the newer but more expensive pharmaceuticals. Whatever you chose, keeping your animal healthy is more that skin deep.
Ringworm: Dermatophytosis
Cause: Ringworm is the most common a fungal infection of the skin in livestock. It is usually caused most frequently by the organism Trichophyton verrucosum but there are several species responsible to the disease.
Signs/Symptoms: Ringworm causes hair loss and white crusts to form on the skin. It is more prevalent in the winter months, where there is significant moisture and in young calves and yearlings .There is usually more than one lesion present, the most common site being the head and neck however lesions can form almost anywhere. The area will appear hairless or may be weeping if the animal finds a way to rub the lesion. It causes itching and discomfort therefore the cattle may frequently lick the affected area. Even without treatment, the disease is self-limiting and will disappear in few months.
Transmission: The fungus is spread from animal to animal by direct contact. It can also be spread from animal to animal when contact is made with a contaminated object (halters, equipment, trough, feeder, etc.). Cattle, especially the young ones that are sick, exposed to damp environments, or have poor nutrition are at an increased risk of developing the disease. Livestock who lack adequate sunlight are also more susceptible to ringworm. Humans are also susceptible to ringworm therefore the use of disposal gloves for the application of topical treatments is useful in preventing this additional problem.
Treatment can include any one of the following:
Iodine to the affected area daily for at least three days or until resolved
Over the counter generic fungal medications such as myconazole terbinafine, tolnaflate daily or until resolved
Chlorhexidine (diluted 1:4 in water) applied three times a day until resolved.
Clorox (diluted 1:10 in water) applied twice a week until resolved.
Captan, a plant fungicide, (mixed 1 ounce of the 50% powder to a gallon of water) applied daily for three days and then weekly until resolved.
Spread the area with a generous and thorough application of one of the above and include at least a one-inch border surrounding the affected site.
It is best to allow animals as much exposure to sunlight as possible. We have found rope halters to be a common culprit and carrier of this disease, therefore washing them in a washer with a cup of bleach and hot water is an easy was to clean and disinfect a large number of halters at once.
Rain Scald: Dermatophilosis
Cause: Dermatophilosis is a fungus caused by the actinomycete Dermatophilus congolensis. While usually dormant, periods of rain or high humidity can cause a proliferation of activity.
Signs/Symptoms: It presents with areas of hair loss, matting, crusting, and scab formation. Small tufts of hair are removed when grooming, exposing a raw hide that maybe infected.
Transmission: Modes of transmission are similar to ringworm therefore cleaning of equipment between animals is important to prevent the spread of the disease.
Treatment: The treatment for rain scald is similar to ringworm and those remedies can be used in addition to the following:
Clip the hair from the problem areas
Disinfect the lesions with dilute betadine or betadine shampoo
Keep the skin dry and exposed to sunlight
In severe cases, administer penicillin.
If the problem persists after treatment, a skin scraping to eliminate other causes such as mites worms, lice, or mange might also be necessary

Mange and Scabies Mites: Chorioptes bovis
Cause: Mange is the term used to describe infection by mites, microscopic relatives of spiders. They inhabit and damage the skin of domestic animals and man. Problems are most frequently seen in the autumn and winter but can occur all year round. Chorioptes is the type usually encountered in cattle. Demodex, mites cause less severe mange. Mites are spread through close contact. Cattle mange is often called barn itch. Sarocopes, a more intense form of mite is mostly found in horses and swine. All four forms of mites can be found in livestock and may be spead to humans.
Signs/Symptoms: The surface mite is usually found in the neck, down the inside of the hind legs and tail head of cattle. It causes intense itching and hair loss, which only increases over time if not treated.
Transmission: For three species, most commonly found in cattle, infection is spread mainly by direct contact between animals. However, the burrowing mite can survive for some time off the host, so, for this species, bedding, objects that come into contact with infected animals may become contaminated, and help spread the infection.
Treatment: Treatment of manage is important to the productivity of your herd. Drugs of the avermectin class are available in oral, injectable and pour-on formulas. Your veterinarian can assist with the diagnosis and treatment of the disease, which if suspected needs to be treated early to prevent infestation of your herd.
Warts: papillomatosis
Cause: There are four types of the papillomatosis virus that causes warts in cattle
Signs/Symptoms: Warts can be small and flat or as large as a baseball, they appear one to six months after exposure to the virus. Larger warts are cauliflower-like lesions that usually appear in the head in neck area. Smaller warts may develop in the reproductive organs such as the penis and vigina. These areas need prompt treatment as even the smallest amount of bleeding caused by irritation can kill sperm. Calves and cattle younger than age two are most susceptible but they can occur in older cattle.
Transmission: The wart virus is easily spread by hypodermic needles, tattoo equipment, tagging pliers or by rubbing on fences and posts that have recently come in to contact with infected cattle.
Treatment: Warts are unsightly but self-limiting. They are most prevalent in calves and may disappear spontaneously as they age. Surgical removal can hasten the disappearance of others. If the presence of warts becomes a herd issue both commercial and autogenous vaccines are available. The autogenous vaccine is prepared from the wart tissue take from a lesion of one of the herd animals.
Prevention of skin diseases through attention to appearance, early intervention and cleanliness puts breeders on the path to good animal health practices. Treatments are as near as the household medicine cabinet and when implemented at the onset of a disease can prevent a little problem from being a big one.
Biography
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.

Animal Health Series: From Momma to Autonomy, Weaning Ways

By Peggy Joseph-Potter RN, BSN, MHA

Weaning is more about the health of the cow than the calf. Lactation requires 50% more feed, 70% more energy, and twice as much protein as pregnancy alone. As Fall approaches and pastures decline, difficulties can arise as breeders attempt to maintain the cow in good body condition for Spring calving. It is therefore more prudent to wean mature calves rather than continue to supplement the pregnant cow. Calves are usually ready to wean at 5-7 months of age, however they can be weaned sooner if conditions necessitate the separation of calves and cows.
Spring calves means Fall weaning. Weaning is one of the most stressful times in your calf’s short life. While the mature calf no longer needs to supplements its nutritional needs with mama’s milk it depends on her for its emotional needs. Planning, preconditioning and optimizing your calf’s health make this a much less distressing transition. The old timers may have many stories and methods for completing this process; newer research provides opportunities to make this a much less traumatic experience for young calves.
In this article, I will discuss some of the new ways, some of the old ways and provide you with supporting data that may help you to make the best decision for your situation.
Pre-conditioning is essential for the maintenance of health and immunity in the newly weaned calf. Providing essential nutrients through the introduction of bunk and creep feeders allows calves to acclimate their eating habits to prevent weight loss during this stressful period. Preconditioning calves involves getting them used to eating and drinking out of a bunk feeder or trough. This should be done without the cows around, as cows tend to be more pushy and bossy around the feeders and may not let the calves in at all.
A creep feed or precondition ration for calves should include a mix of grain silage and legume-hay, with the addition of a concentrate supplement that includes protein. There are many good calf starter products available and your local feed store can help you develop a program to meet your needs. Make sure any supplement provided does not contain animal byproducts due to the danger of BSE. Try to keep feeders free from mold and dust as their presence may lead to the development of pneumonias.
The goal is to minimize the stress level of both mom and calf during the weaning process, therefore other stress-laden procedures such as vaccinations, castration and dehorning should precede any attempt to separate the pair. Calves should also have good parasite control products introduced either as a pour-on or through injection prior to weaning, as they are more susceptible to worms during this period. We also try to break our calves to tie and lead before weaning as this socializes them to the human presence and reduces that which is unfamiliar after they leave their moms.
Methods for Weaning: There are several methods for weaning, ranging from low stress natural to abrupt separation.
Natural weaning takes place without human intervention. The calves and cows are left together until the calf decides it no longer needs to nurse or the mother cow kicks it off prior to the arrival of her next calf. This technique provides the least amount of stress to the calf however; it takes its toll on the bred cow as their bodies try to prepare for the birth of yet another calf. They will usually lack the conditioning necessary to supplement their newborn’s needs leading to a lower birth weight calf.
Traditional corral weaning. This method can be traumatic for calves as they are abruptly removed from their mothers and separated at the same ranch or shipped to a new location. Weight loss is likely to continue to occur until the calf adapts to its new surroundings. Significant preconditioning is necessary to sustain the calves during the process and there may be permanently lower conditioning than a calf weaned in a less stressful manner. Some of these changes can be prevented by removing the cows and leaving the calves in an area with other cattle that are familiar to them.
Pasture Weaning. The combining of pasture weaning with fence-line weaning can be accomplished simply by placing them side by side and moving the cows to another location, this allows the calves to stay in an area familiar to them. Pasture weaning is ideal when drought conditions are not present as free-choice grazing allows the calves to eat as desired. Since we place our cow-calf pair on pasture after the first 15-30 days this transition has been easiest for us to accomplish. That does not mean we do not have some disruption for the first day or two however, we have found this method the most humane and least stressful for the pair.
Fence-Line Weaning. This method allows calves to maintain physical contact with the cows and in most cases prevents the calves from nursing. It works best if an electric wire is present and even better if a double fence is available to keep the mother and calf separated. We have had a few of the most determined calves get through what we thought was adequate fencing. Fence-line weaning allows the pair to see and smell each other but prevents the calves from nursing. They generally will stop trying after the first three to five days.
Spiked Nose ring weaning. Nose rings or flaps can be applied to the calf’s nose to prevent suckling. This method allows the cow and calf to stay together in the same pasture or paddock. The nose flaps are noxious to the cow as they contain uncomfortable spikes that prevent the cow from accepting the calf’s gestures to nurse. Calves will usually stop trying after the first three to five days. However it can take two or three weeks for the cow’s bag to dry up; therefore do not take the rings off too soon, or you will have to start all over.
The goal in any weaning process you chose is to minimize the stress level on both the cow and calf. For the calf, even a vaccinated animal can have reduced immunity leading to the development of disease especially those affecting the lungs such as pneumonias. The pregnant cow adapts more easily after the first 3-5 days, however it may take longer if she is a first time mother.
Highlights:
Wean calves during good weather to reduce stress and possible disease processes,
Separate cows and calves so that they can still see and smell each other,
Do stressful procedures such as breaking, vaccinating, castrating, and dehorning prior to weaning,
Feed calves in bunk or creep feeder to acclimate them to eating and drinking on their own,
Provide adequate nutrition through appropriate rations of grain, hay, and supplements,
Socialize your animals prior to weaning to decrease their fear of the unknown,
Wean animals in surroundings with familiar, compatible paddock mates.
Having healthy, happy calves takes planning and preparation. The transition for both cow and calf can be made low stress by taking a few extra steps to reduce the fear and provide a sense of security for your animals.
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge our friends and members in Texas and the East Coast who are indeed suffering the wrath of Mother Nature. Our thoughts and prayers are with each one of you as you struggle to meet your needs and those of your livestock.
Bibliography
(1997). Feeding and Handling Calves. In M. &. Ensminger, Beef Cattle Science (p. 727). Danville: Interstate Publishers, Inc.
Thomas, H. S. (1998). Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle. Storey Publishing.

Peggy and her husband, Bob Potter, own and operate PJ Ranch LLC in Winton, California. They are Miniature and Standard Hereford owners and active participants in the MHBA since 2002. She is employed as a critical care nurse for a local medical center.

Early Weaning: Nutrition and Cost Considerations

Chris Reinhardt, Extension Feedlot Specialist
Reprinted from www.asi.ksu.edu/beeftips

The nutrition of the early weaned (90-120 days of age) calf is not greatly different than that of the normal age (~205 days) calf; however, there are several key factors to consider.

Whether or not you’ve ever fed calves, you’re more qualified to wean your calves than anyone else, provided you’ve got some quality feedstuffs and appropriate facilities. The reason? If you can simply move the calves or cows to an adjacent pen or pasture from one another, the stress of weaning is nearly eliminated. And this greatly reduces the risk of subsequent disease.

Many ranchers have instituted fenceline weaning, in which the calves are placed in a pen or pasture adjacent to their mothers, and can have nose-to-nose contact with them. Or the cows are placed in a pen and the calves are allowed to graze in an adjacent pasture. These systems have proven highly effective at reducing stress on calves. Oftentimes the cows create more noise after weaning than the calves. After a few days, the calves can be completely separated without additional stress. This speaks volumes about the nutritional needs of the calf; it needs only some occasional, short-term contact and proximity from the dam, but nutritionally, the calf is ready to be on its own.

When the calf nurses, a groove closes, shunting milk from the esophagus, bypassing the reticulum, rumen, and omasum, straight to the abomasum. But, when a calf either grazes or eats solid feed from a bunk, feed enters the reticulo-rumen and begins fermentation. Once the rumen has been ‘inoculated’ (usually very soon after birth) with bacteria and protozoa from its environment, and has been ‘fed’ through grazing, the calf is a functional ruminant—this is the normal scenario for beef calves.

The rumen and the calf are both accustomed to grass and the rate of energy release from forages. So the first feed offered to the calf during its weaning transition should resemble what they’ve been consuming up to this point– that is, good quality forage. Good quality hay from either grass, grass/legume mix, or annual grains will work well. This hay should be spread out, either long-stemmed or very coarsely chopped, in the very same bunks where the calves will be fed. Provide all the hay the calves will eat in a day, which will normally be about 10-15 pounds per head per day.

It is counter-productive to train the calves to eat from a bale feeder only to later try to re-train them to a bunk, and the attraction of good quality, loose, long-stemmed hay in the bunk is the best way to accomplish this. Also, on either the first or second day after weaning, place about 2-3 pounds per head of a nutrient dense starter ration on top of the loose hay. This ration should be a mix of 25-35 percent ground hay, and the remainder made up of a blend of cracked or ground grain and a source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Byproducts such as dry distillers grains, wheat midds, corn gluten feed, and soy hulls work well to provide both energy and protein, and can be used to
replace all or a portion of the grain in the diet. With the inclusion of byproduct feeds to supply all needed protein, a commercial source of
vitamins and minerals can be used to balance the diet.

If the calves are healthy, vigorous, and eating well, the loose hay can be reduced and eliminated over a period of 3-4 days, but if
health and intake of the ration are poor, continue to place 3-4 pounds of loose hay in the bunk until health and intake improve.

Economic return from early weaning is driven primarily by ensuring future productivity of the cow herd, but proper management of the calves can contribute as well. Plan to have feed and space for these calves for at least 30 days, and 45-60 days may be even better. That will give the calves time to recover any lost weight from the weaning transition, recover from any respiratory disease they may have endured, and fully respond to the vaccination protocol given at weaning time.

Another benefit of feeding these calves for a time is that given their young age and lean stage of growth, these calves convert feed to gain very efficiently (often in the range of 4:1); therefore, the cost of gain can be very economical, compared to commercial feeding, depending on the cost of your local feedstuffs.

Based on current estimated Kansas costs of alfalfa hay, cracked corn, dried distillers grains, and a medicated mineral/vitamin supplement, calves can be fed for approximately $1/day (not including yardage or labor). If no major health challenges occur, we should expect the calves to gain at or above 2 lb/day. This results in a feed cost of gain of about 50¢/lb, while current commercial feedyards are experiencing feed costs of gain of about 80¢/lb for finishing cattle.

There are many ways to effectively manage these special calves. The most important thing is to get them the needed nutrition, preserve the cow, and preserve the range.

Tally Time – Monitor forage production to improve management

Sandy Johnson, livestock specialist

In years with ample rainfall, there may be a tendency to take grass production for granted. If there are so many acres, we expect it to produce so much grass and run so many head of cattle. Putting up hay or even mowing the lawn (non-irrigated) can give us a good indication of forage growth conditions in general. When dry conditions prevail, the normal grazing plan must be changed; and it can be hard for producers to make timely changes for several reasons. Enacting a “plan B” is generally expensive, time consuming, and otherwise unappealing. Some objective measure of grass production would likely help producers make more timely decisions.

Forage use must be measured so it can be managed. Basic yearly records to keep on each pasture include: date of turnout, number of head, average weight, same three points at the time of removal, and rainfall. The other record needed is some measure of utilization at the end of the season. This could be as simple as a light (1 – 33 percent), moderate (34 – 66 percent) or heavy (67 – 100 percent) estimate of forage utilized, based on a comparison to an un-grazed area. A grazing exclosure (area within pasture that is excluded from grazing) is a useful tool to compare how much has grown in comparison to how much is remaining in the pasture. Two steel posts and a wire panel tied in a circle makes an easy and effective grazing exclosure. In dry years, it is last year’s un-utilized portion that supplements the current dry year’s growth, protects the soil surface and improves infiltration when it does rain.

A grazing stick is another tool to measure forage production. It was originally developed for use in higher rainfall areas and monoculture pastures but can be adapted to other regions. The use of a grazing stick is dependent on appropriate local or regional calibration that reflects the leaf density of the pasture. Height of the forage in inches is converted to pounds of production per acre. Complete online directions of how to calibrate and use a grazing stick can be found at this site from the Noble Foundation http://www.noble.org/ag/forage/grazingstick/index.html. A minimum of 400-800 pounds per acre should be remaining after grazing in short grass regions.

Another method to measure utilization is quoted below and comes from a Nebraska and South Dakota resource entitled “Drought Management on Range and Pastureland: A Handbook for Nebraska and South Dakota.” This publication contains lots of good range management information that easily translates to western Kansas. Don’t let the title make you think it doesn’t apply, because if you are not in a drought, you are just preparing for the next one.

“Proper utilization during the growing season is generally the removal of 50 percent or less of the present, current year leaf and stem tissue by weight. A simple procedure can be used to develop a visual perception of percentage forage utilization. Clip the current year growth from random bunches or tillers at the ground level. Wrap the samples with string or tape. Balance the sample on your finger. The point of balance is the height at which 50 percent of the leaf and stem material would be removed. Clip the sample at this point and balance each half to estimate heights for 25 and 75 percent utilization. Since utilization often differs across the pasture, you will need to monitor average height of utilization throughout each pasture. Estimates of the stubble height at which a target level of utilization will occur should be made when the cattle enter each pasture.”

Take time at the end of the grazing season to evaluate the amount of grass utilized in relationship to the rainfall received and growing conditions. This will help build a good grazing management plan that can take advantage of additional growth when conditions improve and provides specific guidance when needed rains do not come.

Successful Early Weaning: Consider Water, Weaning Method, Vaccination Program and Animal Handling

Larry Hollis, Extension Beef Specialist
Reprinted from www.asi.ksu.edu/beeftips

With the hot, dry Summer currently being experienced in many parts of Kansas, traditional weaning plans may need to be significantly altered. Cows are out of grass in many areas, and grass is extremely short in others. Early weaning of calves should be strongly considered. Considerable research has shown that it is a much better use of resources to wean the calf early, and either sell or feed the calf, than try to feed the cow enough to sustain lactation through a drought. Doing this will hold feed costs down both now and this Winter when you are trying to get cows in condition to (1) survive the Winter, (2) calve successfully, and (3) be in reasonable body condition score (BCS) to breed back next year. Many cows may be close to drying up on their own because of the lack of feed, so the primary thing they may be providing is merely companionship for the calf.

Consider these factors when early weaning.

• Water. Freshly weaned calves need plenty of fresh, clean water, especially if weaned during the heat of summer. Hopefully they have had access to water alongside their mothers, but if their mothers are drinking from an elevated tank or tub that calves cannot reach, they may need to be provided with a readily-available, closer-to-the-ground water source so that they are trained to drink from it prior to actual weaning time.

• Weaning method. Research has shown that “soft” weaning methods such as fence line weaning or nose clip weaning result in better maintenance of existing calf weights or subsequent calf performance than traditional “hard” weaning methods (abruptly separating cows and calves and placing calves in a drylot or unfamiliar pasture situation). When calves are weaned with either soft method, calves have the benefit of knowing their way around the pasture, including where shade, water and feed are located. If facilities permit (calf-proof fences between 2 adjoining pastures), fence line weaning is preferable over nose clip weaning because it does not require running calves through the chute twice to install and remove the nose clips. Hard weaning methods always result in greater calf weight losses than soft methods. Also, hard weaning, especially when calves are weaned in dry, dusty pens, almost always results in more respiratory health problems.

• Vaccination program. If some of the better calves need to be held for replacements, or calves are typically marketed through a value-added preconditioning program or marketing system, they will benefit from the same preconditioning and vaccination program that would be utilized if they were held until normal Fall weaning time. Feeding programs following weaning need to be adjusted to meet the needs of these lighter calves. When processing calves during the hot Summer, be careful to make sure that vaccines are handled properly, because heat can spoil vaccines rapidly if they are not kept refrigerated during transit and chuteside while working calves. If modified live virus vaccines are used, it is imperative that they also be protected from sunlight. Over 60% of viral particles in the bottle or syringe will be inactivated by only 1 hour of exposure to sunlight. Keeping the vaccine bottles and syringes in a cooler except when animals are actually being injected will help protect the product from both heat and sunlight.

• Working cattle. Try to gather cattle into loose grass traps or large pens near the working facility where they have plenty of space prior to
being worked. If possible, this should be done the evening before working the cattle. Try to have all work completed by 10:00 in the morning. Also, fresh water needs to be available both before and soon after working through the chute.

We can’t escape an occasional drought, but we can manage our way around them and reduce their negative impact. With a little advance planning, early weaning can be accomplished and the herd set up to recover more quickly once it finally starts raining again.

MHBA ANIMAL HEALTH SERIES

From Mama to Autonomy: Weaning ways
By Peggy Joseph-Potter RN, BSN, MHA

Weaning is more about the health of the cow than the calf. Lactation requires 50% more feed, 70% more energy, and twice as much protein as pregnancy alone. As Fall approaches and pastures decline, difficulties can arise as breeders attempt to maintain the cow in good body condition for Spring calving. It is therefore more prudent to wean mature calves rather than continue to supplement the pregnant cow. Calves are usually ready to wean at 5-7 months of age, however they can be weaned sooner if conditions necessitate the separation of calves and cows.
Spring calves means Fall weaning. Weaning is one of the most stressful times in your calf’s short life. While the mature calf no longer needs to supplements its nutritional needs with mama’s milk it depends on her for its emotional needs. Planning, preconditioning and optimizing your calf’s health make this a much less distressing transition. The old timers may have many stories and methods for completing this process; newer research provides opportunities to make this a much less traumatic experience for young calves.
In this article, I will discuss some of the new ways, some of the old ways and provide you with supporting data that may help you to make the best decision for your situation.
Pre-conditioning is essential for the maintenance of health and immunity in the newly weaned calf. Providing essential nutrients through the introduction of bunk and creep feeders allows calves to acclimate their eating habits to prevent weight loss during this stressful period. Preconditioning calves involves getting them used to eating and drinking out of a bunk feeder or trough. This should be done without the cows around, as cows tend to be more pushy and bossy around the feeders and may not let the calves in at all.
A creep feed or precondition ration for calves should include a mix of grain silage and legume-hay, with the addition of a concentrate supplement that includes protein. There are many good calf starter products available and your local feed store can help you develop a program to meet your needs. Make sure any supplement provided does not contain animal byproducts due to the danger of BSE. Try to keep feeders free from mold and dust as their presence may lead to the development of pneumonias.
The goal is to minimize the stress level of both mom and calf during the weaning process, therefore other stress-laden procedures such as vaccinations, castration and dehorning should precede any attempt to separate the pair. Calves should also have good parasite control products introduced either as a pour-on or through injection prior to weaning, as they are more susceptible to worms during this period. We also try to break our calves to tie and lead before weaning as this socializes them to the human presence and reduces that which is unfamiliar after they leave their moms.
Methods for Weaning: There are several methods for weaning, ranging from low stress natural to abrupt separation.
Natural weaning takes place without human intervention. The calves and cows are left together until the calf decides it no longer needs to nurse or the mother cow kicks it off prior to the arrival of her next calf. This technique provides the least amount of stress to the calf however; it takes its toll on the bred cow as their bodies try to prepare for the birth of yet another calf. They will usually lack the conditioning necessary to supplement their newborn’s needs leading to a lower birth weight calf.
Traditional corral weaning. This method can be traumatic for calves as they are abruptly removed from their mothers and separated at the same ranch or shipped to a new location. Weight loss is likely to continue to occur until the calf adapts to its new surroundings. Significant preconditioning is necessary to sustain the calves during the process and there may be permanently lower conditioning than a calf weaned in a less stressful manner. Some of these changes can be prevented by removing the cows and leaving the calves in an area with other cattle that are familiar to them.
Pasture Weaning. The combining of pasture weaning with fence-line weaning can be accomplished simply by placing them side by side and moving the cows to another location, this allows the calves to stay in an area familiar to them. Pasture weaning is ideal when drought conditions are not present as free-choice grazing allows the calves to eat as desired. Since we place our cow-calf pair on pasture after the first 15-30 days this transition has been easiest for us to accomplish. That does not mean we do not have some disruption for the first day or two however, we have found this method the most humane and least stressful for the pair.
Fence-Line Weaning. This method allows calves to maintain physical contact with the cows and in most cases prevents the calves from nursing. It works best if an electric wire is present and even better if a double fence is available to keep the mother and calf separated. We have had a few of the most determined calves get through what we thought was adequate fencing. Fence-line weaning allows the pair to see and smell each other but prevents the calves from nursing. They generally will stop trying after the first three to five days.
Spiked Nose ring weaning. Nose rings or flaps can be applied to the calf’s nose to prevent suckling. This method allows the cow and calf to stay together in the same pasture or paddock. The nose flaps are noxious to the cow as they contain uncomfortable spikes that prevent the cow from accepting the calf’s gestures to nurse. Calves will usually stop trying after the first three to five days. However it can take two or three weeks for the cow’s bag to dry up; therefore do not take the rings off too soon, or you will have to start all over.
The goal in any weaning process you chose is to minimize the stress level on both the cow and calf. For the calf, even a vaccinated animal can have reduced immunity leading to the development of disease especially those affecting the lungs such as pneumonias. The pregnant cow adapts more easily after the first 3-5 days, however it may take longer if she is a first time mother.
Highlights:
Wean calves during good weather to reduce stress and possible disease processes,
Separate cows and calves so that they can still see and smell each other,
Do stressful procedures such as breaking, vaccinating, castrating, and dehorning prior to weaning,
Feed calves in bunk or creep feeder to acclimate them to eating and drinking on their own,
Provide adequate nutrition through appropriate rations of grain, hay, and supplements,
Socialize your animals prior to weaning to decrease their fear of the unknown,
Wean animals in surroundings with familiar, compatible paddock mates.
Having healthy, happy calves takes planning and preparation. The transition for both cow and calf can be made low stress by taking a few extra steps to reduce the fear and provide a sense of security for your animals.
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge our friends and members in Texas and the East Coast who are indeed suffering the wrath of Mother Nature. Our thoughts and prayers are with each one of you as you struggle to meet your needs and those of your livestock.
Bibliography
(1997). Feeding and Handling Calves. In M. &. Ensminger, Beef Cattle Science (p. 727). Danville: Interstate Publishers, Inc.
Thomas, H. S. (1998). Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle. Storey Publishing.

Peggy and her husband, Bob Potter, own and operate PJ Ranch LLC in Winton, California. They are Miniature and Standard Hereford owners and active participants in the MHBA since 2002. She is employed as a critical care nurse for a local medical center.

AHA’s New Sire DNA Policy

The AHA will require all Hereford sires born after Jan. 1, 2011, to be DNA genotyped at the official AHA DNA laboratory before their progeny can be registered.

This policy has been adopted to improve the quality control of pedigrees. Numerous times during the year, AHA staff identifies pedigree mistakes, and the discovery comes at times when it is very difficult to make a determination of correct parentage of an animal. Genotyping walking herd sires will be very beneficial toward minimizing this issue in a cost-effective manner.

FALL IS A GOOD TIME TO FOCUS ON HERD HEALTH

by: Heather Smith Thomas
Reprinted from www.CattleToday.com

Fall is a good time to run cattle through the chute for their semi annual vaccinations. Many ranchers try to accomplish as much as they can during this trip through the chute including pregnancy checking, applying substances to control parasites, vaccinating pregnant cows, and perhaps bangs vaccinating heifer calves while the veterinarian is there, if you live in a state that requires Brucellosis vaccination of heifers.
Pregnancy testing time is the best time to vaccinate and delouse cows, and there is no point in treating an open cow who will soon be sold. Vaccinations and Fall treatments can be given to each animal after the veterinarian determines whether or not she’s pregnant. At the same time, you should also consider the following management practices to keep your cow herd in tip top shape.

Cull open cows

Most ranchers sell cows who turn up open, since there is no profit in running a cow an extra year without producing a calf. If you are producing seedstock, trying to raise cattle who are fertile and efficient, you’ll want to cull any cows who are less fertile and efficient than the rest of the herd. Your customers who are buying seedstock from you want genetics that will improve their herds and increase their profitability. Culling open cows and late calvers can dramatically alter a rancher’s profit picture. A “freeloader” cow costs as much to maintain as a good, early calving cow, and it does not pay to keep her. The occasional exception may be a first calf two year old who raised a good calf, but didn’t breed back because she was putting so much energy into milk. This is a hard age, since the heifer is still growing and trying to produce milk; she may not cycle in time to breed back during a short breeding season (and most ranchers try to have a short season, so the calves are grouped in age and size). Some of these good young cows, with their whole life still ahead of them, may be profitable to keep, if a rancher has the feed to run them the extra year. But an older cow has no excuse for being open and it is wise to sell her.

Vaccinations

Ranchers in many regions must vaccinate at least twice a year for Redwater, to keep from losing cattle. The current 8 way clostridial vaccine protects against Blackleg, Malignant Edema, Sudden Death Syndrome, Redwater, Black’s Disease, and types B, C and D Enterotoxemia. Adult cattle do not need to be vaccinated against all of those, but since there is no other vaccine for Redwater and Black’s Disease, this is the only option for ranchers who must protect cattle from these health hazards.

Clostridial vaccines can cause tissue reaction and swelling and sometimes abscesses and scar tissue. No matter which clostridial vaccine you use, it should always be given subcutaneously, and preferable in the side of the neck. That way, any tissue damage that occurs can be easily trimmed out at slaughter without sacrificing good parts of the beef carcass.

Most veterinarians now recommend vaccinating all cows for Leptospirosis in the Fall as well as in the Spring. Leptospira can cause abortion at any stage of pregnancy, and the Lepto vaccination is effective for only six months. Lepto is one of the few truly cheap vaccines, so it makes sense to protect bred cows throughout pregnancy by means of semi annual Lepto vaccinations.

Some herd management specialists also advocate twice a year vaccination for IBR and BVD, in some herds. Since pregnant cows cannot be given modified live virus vaccinations for these diseases without risk of abortion, the standard procedure is to use modified live virus vaccine before the breeding season in the Spring, and a killed vaccine product during pregancy, in the Fall. This type of program is not necessary in all herds, but is very beneficial in some, especially for young cows (first and second calvers).

Yearling heifers need two doses of Scour Guard before calving. This product will help prevent scours in newborn calves. Timing of the second dose is critical — it must be given at least two weeks before heifers start to calve. But the first dose can be given as much as a year before the second dose. Most ranchers wait until pregnancy testing time to give the first dose, simply because it doesn’t make economic sense to put nearly two dollars worth of scours vaccine into an open heifer. Giving it in the Fall is better than waiting until calving season is near and hoping you have enough time between doses for the shots to do any good.

Any cows which did not receive a Scour Guard injection last year need two doses before calving, in order to confer immunity to calves through colostrum. Yearling heifers and any cows you may have added to your herd during the past year should get an initial priming dose at preg checking time.

Check with your local veterinarian for advice on a vaccination program and schedule that will protect against common diseases in your area and specific situation. You won’t need to worry about venereal diseases if your cattle are in a controlled breeding situation — bred only to your own uninfected bulls. You won’t need to give clostridial vaccine to adult cattle unless you live in the mountain West. But you will need to vaccinate for Leptospirosis wherever you are, and sometimes IBR and BVD.

Parasites

Parasite control is also important in a Fall management program. The primary parasites to worry about are grubs, lice, worms and in some locations liver flukes. Many ranchers use a pour on product that is effective against both grubs and lice, and some use Ivermectin to control grubs, lice and worms. Ivomec (a brand of ivermectin) has the advantage of killing both external and internal parasites, but does not kill liver flukes or tapeworms. In order to control biting lice, Ivomec pour on must be used. Injectable Ivomec does a very good job on grubs and sucking lice, but not biting lice.

Lice are one of the most costly and underrated parasites of cattle, accounting for millions of dollars lost each year due to reduced feed conversion, weight loss, anemia and sometimes even death. During the last cold months of Winter and into early Spring, lice can be a constant cause of irritation putting additional stress on cattle and draining energy reserves.

Most veterinarians recommend Fall treatment of all cattle for lice control. You should also assume that any new animal brought into the herd is carrying lice. New animals should be isolated and treated, whatever time of year it’s brought in, before being put with the herd. Most products for lice have a two treatment protocol and the new animals should be kept isolated until they’ve had both treatments. Any animal in the herd suspected of having lice should be treated in early Fall before lice populations build up (to help keep lice from spreading to the rest of the herd) and all animals should be treated in late Fall before infestation becomes severe. Effective control of lice requires two treatments two weeks apart if using a product that kills only lice and not the eggs. The second treatment kills lice that hatch out in between.

If cattle are being put through a chute, a pour on is usually the simplest way to control lice. Oil based pour ons are formulated to travel through the hair coat so the chemical spreads over the whole body of the animal. Other pour ons are systemic and absorbed into the body to kill lice, grubs and other internal parasites at the same time. Some of these must be used before Winter to avoid toxic reactions due to grubs being killed while migrating through the esophagus or spinal nerve canal.

The dying grubs release substances that cause swelling and inflammation in the tissues (choking or bloat in the esophagus, or temporary paralysis if in the spinal canal), which could lead to death of the animal unless the reaction is reduced with prompt and proper treatment. Check with your veterinarian for advice on insecticides and which products might be best for your situation and climate. Cattle can be treated for grubs after heel fly season is over, no more risk of new eggs being laid, and about three months before the anticipated first appearance of grubs. Treatment for grubs in northern regions should be given before December, while treatments in warm southern states should be no later than mid October.

Check each cow closely

This is also a good time to check cows for problems that might affect future health or productivity. As they go through the chute, check cows’ eyes for injury or signs of early cancer lesions (these are primarily a problem in cows with non pigmented skin, but do occasionally occur in dark skinned cattle), which can often be successfully treated in early stages, before they become malignant. Check face and jaw lumps to see if they are soft tissue abscesses that should be drained or bony infections that must be treated with sodium iodide.

Check teeth on any older cow who seems to be losing weight (a cow who has lost teeth may not be able to chew feed properly and will be difficult to keep in proper body condition to feed her calf and breed back). This is the time to make culling decisions on cows with serious problems such as bad teeth, bony lump jaw, bad eyes, bad udders, etc. It’s also a good time to carefully assess body condition to see if cows came through summer in good flesh (if pastures were good) or thin (if pastures were dry or sparse towards Fall). This will help you decide whether to wean calves early to enable cows to regain needed weight before cold weather.

Body Condition Scores are rated 1 (emaciated) to 9 (obese). Most stockmen try to keep cows at score 5 or 6 for best health and fertility. The ideal score will depend upon the genetics of the cattle; some cows need more flesh covering than others to cycle and breed successfully and produce milk for their calves. Know your cattle and try to keep enough flesh on them for optimum production.

When weaning calves and putting cows through Winter, remember that high producing cows may have body condition pulled down more than the cows who give less milk, and will go into Fall and Winter carrying less flesh. These high producing cows need a higher plane of Winter nutrition to get ready for the next calving and lactation. A good practice is to check body condition in Fall and sort out thin cows and young ones (yearlings, first calvers and sometimes second calvers) to feed separately. If cows will be on hay or any type of supplement during Fall and early Winter, this will ensure the young or thin ones get their share. It is not cost effective to feed the whole herd to meet the needs of young ones and thin ones; the majority of the cows don’t need the extra feed. It’s better to sort them in the Fall, or whenever they go from an adequate pasture to dry pastures or hay, so the ones who need the extra nutrients will be the ones who get it.

Cows should not be left on marginal Fall or Winter pastures while still nursing calves, or they’ll lose too much body condition. A research project at Kansas State University a few years ago showed that cows on unsupplemented pasture who continued nursing calves until December lost about 150 pounds and 1.5 points in body condition score by their next calving. If calves must be left on the cows this late, pasture must be supplemented. When the pastures get dry, it is often better to wean the calves. It is cheaper to supplement the weaned calves, rather than the whole herd.

Fall working is one of the rancher’s best opportunities to make management decisions that improve the herd health situation and also affect profit or loss. This is a good chance to have “hands on” every cow and to know what is happening.

Animal Health Series: It’s all in the genes

Assembled by Peggy Joseph-Potter RN, BSN, MHA

For anyone registering cattle, perusing pedigrees, or checking out potential semen donors, you may have found some unfamiliar notations following the animal’s name. Recent changes implemented by the American Hereford Association may affect both registration and management of your breeding program. In November 2010, the American Hereford Association implemented a mandatory DNA testing policy for all future walking sires. All Hereford sires born after January 1, 2011, need to be DNA genotyped at the official American Hereford Association DNA laboratory before their progeny can be registered. The intent of the policy is to improve the quality control of pedigrees and to test for three non-lethal genetic abnormalities. The same requirement for all AI sires and donor dams was previously implemented. Why the change you may ask? According to Joe Roybal of Beef Magazine, it was prompted by the difficulties and expense in determining sires in the standard breeds. The issue with genetic testing was most likely prompted by the Angus industry when Arthrogryposis Multiplex, a very popular sire, lead to the genetic evaluation of 10,000 direct sons and daughters after it was discovered he carried the lethal gene for Curly Calf Syndrome.

Recessive genes are responsible for the development of three genetic abnormalities known to be present in Hereford cattle, Dilutor-Rat Tail, Hypotrichosis and Idiopathic Epilepsy. Therefore, an animal seemingly normal in appearance can produce offspring that demonstrate recessive gene abnormalities. Genetic abnormalities are inherited defects, their form may be extreme, showing visible signs with a lethal result or they may be less obvious, causing premature abortion, early embryonic death or produce animals that are weak, slow growing with lower vigor, fertility and longevity.
Recessive inheritance can cause a parent to carry the defective gene and appear normal; the parent is then known as a carrier. If both parents pass the defective gene to the offspring, the genetic defect shows up and the genetic condition in the offspring is called homozygous recessive. The defective gene in the carrier animal is present along with the normal gene and this condition is termed heterozygous. The underlying problem of genetic defects is that parents that appear to be perfectly normal can be carriers and so can produce offspring that are defective. Parents that never produce defective progeny are in the majority and are called homozygous normal. At first glance, it seems that if we could identify carrier animals and eliminate them from the breeding population the problem of recessive genetic defects would be solved. However, it is necessary to explore the problem a little further before deciding that identifying carriers is necessarily worth the money and effort.

Symptoms of the Dilutor-Rat Tail gene are as follows: Carrier Hereford bulls or females when mated to black cattle can produce offspring with a hair coat that is gray, smokey or chocolate color. Hypotrichosis gene: Partial to almost complete lack of hair. Affected calves are often born with very short, fine, kinky hair that may fall out leaving bare spots or areas particularly susceptible to rubbing. The condition may vary in expression as the animal matures and is usually less noticeable in older animals. The hair coat will sometimes appear “frosted” or “silverish.” Tail switch may be underdeveloped.
Idiopathic Epilepsy gene: Age of onset or first seizure can be variable, ranging from birth to several months of age. Occurrence and persistence of seizure may be influenced by environmental stressors such as temperature extremes or increased physical activity. Upon initial onset of seizure episodes individuals will typically lie on their sides with all limbs extended in a rigid state. Manual flexing of the limbs is possible, but return to the extended position occurs after release. Seizure episodes may last from several minutes to more than an hour. Carrier Free (F) identifies the animal as tested and the results indicate that the animal is not a carrier.

Breeders wanting to have their animals tested must use the AHA official lab, Maxxam Analytics. All samples submitted for parentage will also be tested for genetic abnormalities. The cost for DNA testing of less than 50 animals is $32/head for hair samples and $37/head for semen, blood or tissue. In order to test your animals, call the AHA office, 816-842-3757, and request a DNA kit. You will need to have your animal’s registration number available. You will receive a Genetic Marker Test form. Each form is specifically bar coded to the registration number of the animal.

Instructions for obtaining a hair sample: Pull hair samples above the tail switch. Do not cut the hair. The hair root contains the materials needed for DNA testing. Pull 20-25 hairs evenly and directly from the tail so the hair does not break. The switch must be dry and brushed clean of all debris. The lab suggests wrapping the hair around a pencil and then pulling.

According to Jonathan Beever, a leader in cattle genetics, the issue is one of management and accurately identifying carriers through genetic testing; eliminating the gene source is contrary to overall breed improvement. In the absence of DNA testing, genetic abnormalities can be minimized by utilizing outbreeding and examining pedigrees to avoid mating of animals with common ancestors within at least two or three generations. In addition, the practice of turning over the sires after one or two breeding seasons and using fewer cows per bull reduces the chances of producing animals with inherited defects. No matter which process you use to protect your herd be aware of the possibility of genetic abnormities and plan you program accordingly.

Bibliography:
American Hereford Association. AHA implements new DNA policy for walking herd sires. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from The Pairie Star.
Causes of Gentic Abnormalities in Cattle. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from Petahia.
DNA Testing Procedures. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from American Hereford Association.
Roybal, J. Avoiding THE WORST. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from BEEF.
Biography:
Peggy and her husband, Bob Potter, own and operate PJ Ranch LLC in Winton, California. They have been Miniature Hereford owners and active participants in the MHBA since 2002. She is employed as a critical care nurse for a local medical center.

Where have all the veterinarians gone?

Charlotte Williams 6/15/2011

This is a question that an increasing number of rural areas are asking, particularly in the area of food animal care. Food animal practitioners now make up fewer than 10 percent of the veterinarians in the United States, according to a 2006 study by the Food Supply Veterinary Medicine Coalition. Their work includes a wide variety of skills, from prevention and disease control on production farms to USDA food safety and inspection to laboratory analysis of processed meat samples.

A number of programs are actively in place throughout the country to combat this growing problem, including state student loan repayment programs, rural veterinary internships, and others. For example, last year Dr. Joe Hillhouse participated in an initiative led by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) through the AVMA/AVMF Food Animal Veterinary Recruitment and Retention Program to provide student loan debt forgiveness for veterinarians who met the requirements.

His practice in the small Texas towns of Borger and Panhandle also actively recruits from schools as far away as Cornell University in New York to provide internships for students who are considering a life away from the big city.

He also assisted this year in hosting the annual Food Animal Production Tour for first and second year veterinary students from Texas A&M University. They traveled over a thousand miles to visit facilities in the Texas Panhandle and to taste the sweet life in small towns. The Tour is designed to showcase state-of-the-art operations in the dairy, feedlot, swine, and beef industries and to show potential food animal veterinarians the multitudes of opportunities in food supply veterinary medicine.

This year’s cow/calf tours included a visit to the 6666 Ranch – a working Angus cattle ranch that is part of the 275,000 acre Burnett Ranches – a visit to an organic dairy, and a final stop at the WW Ranch Miniature Herefords. Quite a variety of experiences!

Unlike the larger facilities, the WW Ranch allowed the students to interact directly with the animals and to see the positive, close relationship that can develop between a veterinarian and his clients. Dr. Joe is a regular visitor to the ranch for show papers, brucellosis vaccinations, and the occasional foot rot or “what is THAT??” treatment. It also gives his interns a small, gentle set of cattle to become comfortable with procedures before tackling the Big Guys.

The Tour concluded with a lunch sponsored by the owners of WW Ranch, Steve & Charlotte Williams, at a local brewery club, and a warm send-off for the final bus trip back to College Station, TX.

Hopefully the support of people and programs like these will continue to encourage young veterinarians to make the choice to provide care for our nation’s food animals. Whether you drink milk, wear a sweater, or eat the occasional BLT, your life is affected by the direction their lives take.

MHBA ANIMAL HEALTH SERIES

It’s all in the genes

Assembled by Peggy Joseph-Potter RN, BSN, MHA

For anyone registering cattle, perusing pedigrees, or checking out potential semen donors, you may have found some unfamiliar notations following the animal’s name. Recent changes implemented by the American Hereford Association may affect both registration and management of your breeding program. In November 2010, the American Hereford Association implemented a mandatory DNA testing policy for all future walking sires. All Hereford sires born after January 1, 2011, need to be DNA genotyped at the official American Hereford Association DNA laboratory before their progeny can be registered. The intent of the policy is to improve the quality control of pedigrees and to test for three non-lethal genetic abnormalities. The same requirement for all AI sires and donor dams was previously implemented. Why the change you may ask? According to Joe Roybal of Beef Magazine, it was prompted by the difficulties and expense in determining sires in the standard breeds. The issue with genetic testing was most likely prompted by the Angus industry when Arthrogryposis Multiplex, a very popular sire, lead to the genetic evaluation of 10,000 direct sons and daughters after it was discovered he carried the lethal gene for Curly Calf Syndrome.

Recessive genes are responsible for the development of three genetic abnormalities known to be present in Hereford cattle, Dilutor-Rat Tail, Hypotrichosis and Idiopathic Epilepsy. Therefore, an animal seemingly normal in appearance can produce offspring that demonstrate recessive gene abnormalities. Genetic abnormalities are inherited defects, their form may be extreme, showing visible signs with a lethal result or they may be less obvious, causing premature abortion, early embryonic death or produce animals that are weak, slow growing with lower vigor, fertility and longevity.
Recessive inheritance can cause a parent to carry the defective gene and appear normal; the parent is then known as a carrier. If both parents pass the defective gene to the offspring, the genetic defect shows up and the genetic condition in the offspring is called homozygous recessive. The defective gene in the carrier animal is present along with the normal gene and this condition is termed heterozygous. The underlying problem of genetic defects is that parents that appear to be perfectly normal can be carriers and so can produce offspring that are defective. Parents that never produce defective progeny are in the majority and are called homozygous normal. At first glance, it seems that if we could identify carrier animals and eliminate them from the breeding population the problem of recessive genetic defects would be solved. However, it is necessary to explore the problem a little further before deciding that identifying carriers is necessarily worth the money and effort.

Symptoms of the Dilutor-Rat Tail gene are as follows: Carrier Hereford bulls or females when mated to black cattle can produce offspring with a hair coat that is gray, smokey or chocolate color. Hypotrichosis gene: Partial to almost complete lack of hair. Affected calves are often born with very short, fine, kinky hair that may fall out leaving bare spots or areas particularly susceptible to rubbing. The condition may vary in expression as the animal matures and is usually less noticeable in older animals. The hair coat will sometimes appear “frosted” or “silverish.” Tail switch may be underdeveloped.
Idiopathic Epilepsy gene: Age of onset or first seizure can be variable, ranging from birth to several months of age. Occurrence and persistence of seizure may be influenced by environmental stressors such as temperature extremes or increased physical activity. Upon initial onset of seizure episodes individuals will typically lie on their sides with all limbs extended in a rigid state. Manual flexing of the limbs is possible, but return to the extended position occurs after release. Seizure episodes may last from several minutes to more than an hour. Carrier Free (F) identifies the animal as tested and the results indicate that the animal is not a carrier.

Breeders wanting to have their animals tested must use the AHA official lab, Maxxam Analytics. All samples submitted for parentage will also be tested for genetic abnormalities. The cost for DNA testing of less than 50 animals is $32/head for hair samples and $37/head for semen, blood or tissue. In order to test your animals, call the AHA office, 816-842-3757, and request a DNA kit. You will need to have your animal’s registration number available. You will receive a Genetic Marker Test form. Each form is specifically bar coded to the registration number of the animal.

Instructions for obtaining a hair sample: Pull hair samples above the tail switch. Do not cut the hair. The hair root contains the materials needed for DNA testing. Pull 20-25 hairs evenly and directly from the tail so the hair does not break. The switch must be dry and brushed clean of all debris. The lab suggests wrapping the hair around a pencil and then pulling.

According to Jonathan Beever, a leader in cattle genetics, the issue is one of management and accurately identifying carriers through genetic testing; eliminating the gene source is contrary to overall breed improvement. In the absence of DNA testing, genetic abnormalities can be minimized by utilizing outbreeding and examining pedigrees to avoid mating of animals with common ancestors within at least two or three generations. In addition, the practice of turning over the sires after one or two breeding seasons and using fewer cows per bull reduces the chances of producing animals with inherited defects. No matter which process you use to protect your herd be aware of the possibility of genetic abnormities and plan you program accordingly.

Bibliography:
American Hereford Association. AHA implements new DNA policy for walking herd sires. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from The Pairie Star.
Causes of Gentic Abnormalities in Cattle. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from Petahia.
DNA Testing Procedures. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from American Hereford Association.
Roybal, J. Avoiding THE WORST. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from BEEF.
Biography:
Peggy and her husband, Bob Potter, own and operate PJ Ranch LLC in Winton, California. They have been Miniature Hereford owners and active participants in the MHBA since 2002. She is employed as a critical care nurse for a local medical center.

MHBA ANIMAL HEALTH SERIES: Bulls, babes and breeding

By Peggy Joseph-Potter RN, BSN, MHA

Springtime means new beginnings, whether you decide to calve in the winter or spring it is time to start planning for the next calf crop. Developing a timetable and getting cattle bred and rebred on schedule is an important component of herd management. Taking the time to analyze your herd and to choose a bull with traits that accentuate your program can be the difference between success and failure.
Whether you utilize your own bull, AI, or rent one, cattle condition, soundness and health must be considered. Reproductive disease can be carried either by natural or artificial means. Maintenance of a comprehensive vaccination program is essential for a quality-breeding program. Testing for diseases such as Tuberculosis (unless herd has been certified TB-Free), trichomoniasis, BVDV also helps to ensure a healthy outcome.
For those interested in obtaining calves through the AI process, semen is readily available from a number of breeders. It is best to obtain semen from a breeder who is known to meet the generally established health standards in caring for their herd. AI success requires timing, good record keeping and a competent inseminator. Whether you utilize your ranch veterinarian, a reproductive veterinarian or an AI service references and success rates should be a factor in your decision.
In 1970s, Certified Semen Services, Inc., CSS, was formed to qualify and monitor the production of “health certified semen.” Semen obtained through this method must meet very strict standards, including quarantine and the donors must undergo multiple health related tests during their internment. A number of qualified facilities are available throughout the United States; these services perform the required housing, testing, and monitoring of the prospective bulls. Only semen meeting these tough standards is allowed to use the CSS logo. The CSS international qualification can meet the requirements for the export of semen however, each country has its own set of standards; therefore, it is best to involve them early as these organizations have a wealth of knowledge and can walk you through the procedure.

Tuberculosis (TB)
While TB is not a reproductive, disease it can rapidly spread to your herd through the introduction of infected animals or contact with wild or domestic ruminate mammals. The Mycobactium bovis. M bovis, is transmitted by aerosol, ingestion, or breaks in the skin. Like leptospirosis and Brucellosis, humans can develop the disease through contact with a sick animal or ingestion of infected milk. Testing must be performed by a veterinarian and is required for the movement of animals in states not deemed as TB Free.

Trichomoniasis
Infected bulls spread trichomoniasis, a true venereal disease. It can cause abortion in the pregnant cow, usually within the first trimester; however-late term abortions have been known to occur. The best defense against this disease is to utilize a virgin bull or one known to be tested by a veterinarian and deemed disease free. Semen is generally safer than live breeding as the freezing and dilution process reduces the effectiveness of the organism. A vaccine is now available to be use prior to the breeding season.

Bovine Brucellosis-Bangs Disease
Brucellosis, while rare, can have significant implications for livestock due to the threat of abortions; it is noteworthy if the cattle breeder also raises swine, sheep or goats. It was because of this great economic importance and the ability of the disease to cause undulant fever in humans, the United States government stepped in with vigorous elimination programs and now requires RB51 vaccine to be given to all female cattle between the ages of 4-8 months. Breeders who live near wilderness areas where their herds may encounter wild game need to be especially diligent in the protection of their livestock.

Bovine Leptospirosis
Leptospirosis is the most common cause of infectious abortions in cattle. It enters the cow through breaks in the skin and is spread by the urine of sick and carrier animals contaminating feed and water. About 70 percent of infected cows show little outward signs of illness, and they will continue to shed the bacteria in their urine for several months after recovery. Cows can abort even if they do not appear sick. Vaccinating with a product that covers the five most common types of lepto is your best defense against this disease.

Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV)
BVDV is a viral disease that can cause abortion, diseased calves and those with suppressed immune systems. BVD is the most prevalent bovine viral disease. It can be carried by affected animals, on clothing and vehicles. The virus can cause abortion at any stage of gestation, if the fetus survives it may continue to shed the virus as carrier or the state of BVD PI, remaining persistently infected throughout its life. Modified live vaccines are available and should be imperative for any herd health program.

Bluetongue
Buetongue is a disease affecting cattle, goats and sheep. It is seasonal and is most prevalent in the southern and western United States. The disease is caused by a specific midge biting insect, Culiconides varipennis. Infected livestock can develop ulcers and erosion of the lips, tongue and dental pad; abortion of a pregnant animal is not uncommon. Livestock are known to carry it however, sheep are the most susceptible. Vaccine is available for sheep, but not cattle or goats. Bluetongue testing is required by some states for the sale of breeding bulls and for the export of semen. CCS and major sheep producing countries such as Australia require a negative titer.

Have a safe and productive breeding season!

Bibliography
Haynes, N. B. (1978). Keeping Livestock Healthly. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, L.L.C.
Thomas, H. S. (1998). Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle. Storey Publishing.

Biography
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.

Animal Health Series: Calf Health Part 2

MHBA ANIMAL HEALTH SERIES

Calf Health Part 2

By Peggy Joseph-Potter RN, BSN, MHA

Raising healthy calves is the mainstay of our industry. Early intervention from birth through weaning makes all the difference in outcomes. Keeping your calf healthy and disease-free takes planning, early intervention and consistency. Calves are born without immunity therefore protection from opportunistic organisms and conditions requires daily observation and diligence to what Sheila McGuirk DMV, PhD calls the 5 C’s: Colostrum, Calories, Cleanliness, Comfort and Consistency.

Newborn Calf Protocol: Clean hands, arms and equipment (see calving supply list) if assisting the calving. Remove mucus from the calf’s mouth and nose. (We drain calves with large amounts of mucous by gently turning them upside down for a few seconds.) Rub the calf vigorously if stimulation is necessary. (Use warmed towels or blankets in cold weather.) Examine the navel and place a tie if it continues to bleed. Apply disinfectant to a clean navel. Iodine solutions (1, 2 and 7%) or chlorhexidine (0.5%) may be effective. Dipping is more effective than a spray as it also acts as an astringent that aids in drying out the cord. Feed 1 quart of prepared or thawed, warm colostrum if unable to nurse within the first two hours. (Some breeders supplement immediately after birth even if the calf is able to nurse.) Use either a bottle or esophageal feeder for those calves too weak to suck.

Colostrom: Good quality colostrom is essential to the survival of a newborn calf. A newborn should be up and nursing soon after birth or at least within the first couple of hours without assistance. After two hours, the calf may need additional support to stand and find the teat. First calf-heifers may need to be tied or even milked to ensure adequate and timely immunity for the newborn. As time progresses without nursing, so does the loss of immunity. A supplemental feeding maybe required to ensure the calf receives vital antibodies against disease and adequate nutrition, energy and calories to keep them warm. Good quality colostrum is thick and creamy in appearance. It is rich in calories and a concentrated source of nutrients for the calf. Healthy cows in good condition that have been vaccinated against rotavirus, coronavirus and bacteria are more likely to produce good-quality colostrum that contains antibodies required in the first few months of life. Inferior colostrum can result when cows are not in good body condition, from illness or inadequate nutrition, or when animals are first-calf heifers. Thin or watery colostrum should not be fed if there is a source of good quality colostrum available, either frozen or fresh. A lamb’s nipple and soda bottle make an ideal substitute for a calf unable or unwilling to nurse its mother. Colostrom comes either dried or frozen and should be kept on hand during calving season or whenever a birth is likely to occur.

Calories: Cattle require five main groups of nutrients for life and growth: energy, protein, vitamins, minerals and water. Mother’s milk and colostrum are the main source of calories and energy for the newborn calf. Calves need about 5-10 percent of their body weight or 1 quart for a 40-pound calf at birth and again in another 6 hours. Beef cattle should be allowed to nurse at-will as cows usually only produce enough milk to fulfill the needs of their calves; therefore over-feeding should not be a concern.

At 1 week of age, calves will begin to eat a little hay and grain. Consumption will be insignificant at first but it will gradually increase to become a major part of the diet by the end of a month. Calf developer products are specifically made to meet the nutritional needs of calves and medicated products assist with the development of good quality rumen and digestion. Providing the growing calf with adequate calories and nutrition leads to less weight loss and illness during the stress of weaning. Good nutrition is maximized by ensuring an adequate intake of minerals including salt and plenty of good clean water. (The injectable source of vitamin supplement we use is Multimin 90 by Nova Tech, other products are also available.)

Cleanliness: Calves should be born in a clean, dry place. Keeping the calving environment clean is important as newborns are exposed to large amounts of pathogens after birth. Maternity areas must be kept very clean and as free of manure as possible. A cow should never give birth in a dirty pen. Use lots of clean bedding to reduce the risk of illness or infection. Fresh bedding reduces exposure even before the dam has a chance to lick off the calf. Newborn calves should never nurse a cow with a dirty or mature-laden udder, as passage of E coli is too great for their immune defenses.

If weather is severely cold, you can get by without cleaning stalls if you put clean bedding on top for each new cow. The build-up of bedding can keep barns warmer in sub-zero temperatures. Using good sanitation principles and basic hygiene aids in the prevention of sickness and possible mortality due to organisms such as E coli, Mycobacterium or Salmonella.

Comfort: Newborn calves need to be kept comfortable and provided with plenty of dry bedding and shelter from drafts and wind in cold weather. This factor is especially important during severe weather as it stresses the body by requiring energy for heat production. Below 20 degrees F, ears and tails may freeze and the calf’s mouth may become too cold to nurse. The increased demand for energy can keep a calf from gaining weight during these months unless they are protected. Simple windbreaks can be adequate for calves that are not yet ready to venture into the pasture. Calf coats can help maintain a calf’s body heat by providing protection from the wind and cold. Weaned calves do not need additional care however breeders must ensure the presence of adequate feed and an ice-free water supply.

Consistency: Consistency of newborn protocols and daily calf management is important. Calves should be provided with regular supplemental feedings in the form of grain and hay. (Hay should be dry and not first cutting or pure alfalfa to prevent digestive upset.) The same person who performs routine feedings and care should observe calves at the same times every day. Changes in the routine will stress calves, and animals that are stressed are more likely to get sick. Healthy calves correspond to happy breeders. More importantly, a quality product is worthy of economic value and a source of pride for a job well done. Happy Calving!

Bibliography: Haynes, N. B. (1978). Keeping Livestock Healthly. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, L.L.C. Thomas, H. S. (1998). Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle. Storey Publishing. Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, Sheila McGuirk, DMV,PhD. (2009). 5C’s of Health Calving. Retrieved December 2010, from Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Biography Peggy and her husband, Bob Potter, own and operate PJ Ranch LLC in Winton, California where they raise Miniature and Polled Herefords. They have been active participants in the MHBA since 2002. She is employed as a critical care nurse for a local medical center.Thomas, H. S. (1998). Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle. Storey Publishing. Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, Sheila McGuirk, DMV,PhD. (2009). 5C’s of Health Calving. Retrieved December 2010, from Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Biography Peggy and her husband, Bob Potter, own and operate PJ Ranch LLC in Winton, California where they raise Miniature and Polled Herefords. They have been active participants

MHBA Animal Health Series

Bang’s disease or Brucellosis is caused by the organism brucella abortus and is spread from the vaginal discharge of an infected cow or from an aborted fetus. Brucellosis or “contagious abortion” causes abortion and premature births in cattle usually between the fifth and eight month of gestation. The infection is concentrated in the reproductive organs of the animal where it localizes in the uterus, udder and placenta of the female and testicles of the male. The disease can cause “undulant fever” in humans through the intake of infected milk. While the occurrence has been drastically reduced in modern times due to aggressive vaccination programs, failure to meet the window of opportunity can have devastating consequences for a uniformed or unsuspecting buyer. Bangs vaccinations are required by most states but not all as most are able to maintain the status designated as “Brucellosis Free.” Although state and federal regulations have helped to control the disease, there is still a threat.
Humans can become infected with the bacteria by either eating or drinking something contaminated with Brucella, breathing in the organism or having the the organism enter through a skin wound. While ingestion is the most common source of the contamination, hunters and butchers may be infected through skin wounds or by accidental ingestion of the bacteria after cleaning deer, Elk, Moose, or wild pigs. Encounters with infected herds of wild game remain the primary reason for continuation of a regulated vaccination program.
States having the vaccination requirement also have established timeframes for delivery. Most including, California mandate the vaccination be provided to females between the ages of 4-12 months. This vaccination must be given by a licensed veterinary and appropriate documentation including a numbered ear tattoo is required.

Symptoms and Transmission:
• Abortions, retained placenta, weak calves and infertility frequently occurs
• Milk produced by an infected cow may also be contaminated with the organism
• The organism is usually transmitted orally but can penetrate unbroken skin or drainage from an infected eye
• Breeding bulls which are infected, can transmit the disease to cows at the time of service by infected semen
• Infected animals are slaughtered, infected herds quarantined, and carrier animals identified and traced back to their place or origin.

Recovery, Testing and Infected Animals:
• There is no treatment for Brucellosis
• Diagnosis is made by a blood test of the dam and examination of the fetus
• Some degree of immunity as animals that abort can conceive again and carry the fetuses to term, although the disease remains in a latent form and the infected animal remains a source of infection for others
• Infected animals are slaughtered, infected herds quarantined, and carrier animals identified and traced back to their place of origin
• Buy replacement animals only from a clean herd, have aborted fetuses checked.

As there is no treatment for Brucellosis, the main source of prevention is accomplished by official calf hood vaccinations of heifer calves. An accredited veterinarian must provide these vaccinations at calf ages of two-four months with standard dosage vaccine, or from four to twelve months using reduced dosage vaccine. Each calf must be identified by an official vaccination in compliance with state and federal regulations. Quarantines are imposed on infected herds by state and federal authorities until the heard has been proven free of the disease.
When it comes to the Bang’s vaccination, it is Breeder and Buyer beware. Never buy a heifer without an appropriate state regulated vaccination, documentation and accompanying ear tag. Breeders should never sell a female without providing proof of Bang’s vaccination. In our state, females over the age of 12 months can never be vaccinated; therefore, they can never be exposed to other animals through shows or sales. Animals vaccinated after this age usually test positive thus requiring the whole herd to be quarantined; therefore be a responsible breeder and vaccinate your animals prior to their first birthday.

Bibliography
Brucellosis. (2010, September 6). Retrieved from Cattle Today.
Bucellosis Contagious Abortion Bang’s Disease. (2010, September 6). Retrieved from Scottishhighlandcattle.com.
Bucellosis in Cattle. In Merck Veterinary Manual.
Haynes, N. B. (1978). Keeping Livestock Healthly. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, L.L.C.
Thomas, H. S. (1998). Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle. Storey Publishing.

Heat Stress

HEAT STRESS CAN REDUCE PREGNANCY RATES
audio/video clip of this topic
The effects of heat stress on reproductive performance of beef cows has been discussed by many animal scientists in a variety of ways. After reviewing the scientific literature available up to 1979, one scientist wrote that the most serious seasonal variation in reproductive performance was associated with high ambient temperatures and humidity. He further pointed out that pregnancy rates and subsequent calving rates were reduced from 10% to 25% in cows bred in July through September.
Typical Oklahoma summer weather can fit the description of potential heat stress, where many days in a row can exceed 95 degrees and night time lows are often close to 80 degrees. Many hours of the day can be quite hot and cause the slightest rise in body temperature of cattle. Research conducted several years ago at OSU illustrated the possible impact of heat stress of beef cows on their reproductive capability. These cows were exposed to bulls as one group (while in a thermoneutral environment) and one week later exposed to the environmental treatments listed below in Table 1.

Table 1. Effects of Imposed Heat Stress on Reproduction in Beef Cows
(Biggers, 1986;OSU)
Treatment group/ Control/ Moderate Stress /Severe Stress
Daytime temp (F)/ 71/ 97/ 98
Nighttime temp (F)/ 71/ 91/ 91
Relative Humiditiy %/ 25/ 27/ 40
Rectal temp (F) /102.0/ 102.7 /103.6
Pregnancy %/ 83/ 64/ 50
Conceptus Weight (g) 0.158 0.111 0.073
They found that heat stress of beef cows from day 8 through 16 affected the weights of the conceptus (embryo, fluids, and membranes) and the increased body temperature may have formed an unfavorable environment for embryo survival. As noted in table 1, the percentage of pregnancies maintained throughout the week of severe heat stress was considerably reduced.

Florida scientists studying dairy cows reported that for high conception rates the temperature at insemination and the day after insemination was critical to success. They stated that the optimal temperature range was between 50 degrees F. and 73 degrees F. Marked declines in conception occurred when temperatures did not fall in this range.

Beef producers conducting Artificial Insemination or Embryo Transfer may want to take heed of this information. Make certain that cows are allowed access to shade and adequate air movement, at breeding, and immediately following breeding. Of course, adequate cool water is important anytime during the summer months. Avoid forcing recently inseminated cows to stand in treeless, drylot situations where relief from the Oklahoma heat is impossible.

from http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/exten/cc-corner/index.htm