Category Archives: 2010-10

Bulls Eye: A Winning Calf

Danielle Riley from Cedar, Kansas
received Reserve Champion in her
class at the 2010 Smith County
Fair with an Angus/Mini Hereford cross
Bulls Eye was born on 3/17/09. His
momma was a big black Angus cow that
calved late the year before. We used Hugo, a Miniature Hereford bull, on
all of our late calvers and for clean-up at the end of the breeding season,
so we had about half a dozen Angus/Mini Hereford crosses. Bulls Eye has
a crazy freeze brand looking mark on his left front shoulder that Dani
wished would have been on his “show side.” He was an average size calf
when he was born and was pretty square and boxy looking from day 1.
The girls immediately took a liking to him.
At weigh-in on July 16, 2010 he weighed 1188 pounds and was the
lightest calf in his class, but was definitely the most finished. Hugo’s mini
features really popped in Bulls Eye in the last 60 days, from his nice wide
frame to his full brisket. The combination of that and his momma’s tall
and long lines were perfect to receive Reserve Champion in his class. We
fed him Honor Show Chow from Pro Ag in Kensington, Kansas. Bulls
Eye sold for the maximum price at the premium auction, $1,042.00 over
market price.
This is Danielle’s 4th year in 4-H and 4th year in the beef project. She
already has a mini Hereford/Angus cross calf picked out for next year. Dani
and little sister Matti both like the same calf, so hopefully there will be a
couple Angus/Mini Hereford cross calves at next year’s Smith County Fair.

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.

Brucellosis. (2010, September 6). Retrieved from Cattle Today.
Bucellosis Contagious Abortion Bang’s Disease. (2010, September 6). Retrieved from
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.

Smaller-framed Cows

Smaller-framed Cows May Help Contain Input Costs
By SUE ROESLER, for The Prairie Star, reprinted with permission.
Sunday, August 1, 2010 3:25 PM MDT

Cows and their calves are different sizes here in Mandan, ND but ARS research is aiming for a smaller-framed cow herd.
“Grazing as long as possible in the Winter and having a smaller-framed cow herd that eats less are some of the ways that may help keep input costs low and ranches profitable,” says Dr. Scott Kronberg, an ARS research range scientist with an animal focus. “A lot of us think it will cost more to feed cattle in the future,” Kronberg said as he explained that oil has a trickle down effect and other prices tend to be tied in with oil. “As oil prices rise, other costs such as fertilizer and fuel to run farm equipment, also rises. When it comes to a choice between driving their cars or paying high prices for beef, consumers are more likely to buy cheaper cuts of beef and continue to drive,” Kronberg said. For some, beef may even be a luxury if it is unaffordable.

So for producers to stay profitable in the future, they have to be able to break-even and continue to have an efficient operation when cattle prices are low. “Then they can be really profitable when prices are high,” he said.

Kronberg was one of several speakers on the crop tour at the USDA-ARS Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory’s annual Friends and Neighbors Day in Mandan, ND. “There are a lot of ways to cut the cost of livestock production and still be productive,” Kronberg said. “We’re looking at grazing more and feeding less. If I could graze all year I would,” he said.

Kronberg said even in heavy snow, cows will eat the grass sticking up through the snow. They grew Altai wild rye, which grows very tall, and allowed the cow herd to graze well into January. If the snow is just too high, they can supplement when needed. He said he is just building a smaller-framed cow herd to base his research on, and wants cows to be smaller and thicker, in the 1,100 pound range producing calves who are 500 to 600 pounds by the end of October.

“It might seem a little different to raise smaller cows. It is probably not what your neighbors are doing. But these smaller-framed cows are really efficient and live a long time,” Kronberg said. In addition, he wants cows that will produce a “nice calf” for 20 years. At the ARS ranch, they calve in May instead of March. The reason is so the calves will not become bigger cows who could end up in their last trimester in the Winter and need a higher-quality feed for good nutrition.

“A lot of producers really don’t know how much their cows weigh because they don’t weigh them,” he said. Instead, an average of the cattle is usually obtained when cattle are weighed in bulks of about 10 at a feedlot. He challenged the crowd to guess the weight of three Angus cows who gathered in front of an electric fence with their Spring calves. “There really isn’t a cow here who is one I’m looking for yet,” he said.

Cow #1 was the largest of the three and weighed 1,483. “She is a pretty common size for cattle in many regions up here,” Kronberg said. Last year, the cow weaned a heifer calf that was 472 lbs. on April 20. This year, her calf was 76 lbs. at birth. Cow #2 was 1,280 lbs. and weaned a bull calf that was 520 lbs. in October. This year, she gave birth to a 86-pound calf on May 12. Cow #3 weighed 1,005. The calf size was not given.

While Kronberg does not know for sure that smaller-framed cows will eat less and still be efficient, his research is focusing on that. “If you have a cow that has to be culled in year eight because of no calf, that is not efficient to your cattle production because it costs a lot to bring her into the herd,” he said.

Range scientists in Miles City, MT have devised a new method of determining exactly how much forage grazing calves are consuming. It does not involve inserting a cannula into the calf. “We can’t look at production efficiencies until we know what goes into the feeding expense everyday,” he said.

Winter feeding is usually the most expensive feed for producers if cattle are kept in a feedlot or in the yard. In addition, if cows are in their third trimester, feeding a lot of hay is expensive. Smaller cows that calve in late Spring or Summer would not run into that problem. “If we can graze well into the Winter, the costs go way down,” he said.

Vern Anderson, livestock specialist at Carrington, ND Research Extension Center, asked how land prices fit into the schematic. Kronberg agreed that if a producer owns his own land, costs can be contained better.