- Across the “Ditch”
- Animal Health Series: From Momma to Autonomy, Weaning Ways
- Fall focus
- Use Cation when buying hay
- NOAA’s Prediction: la Nina is Back
- Successful Early weaning
- Tally time
- President’s Prospective
- Tri State Fair
- Pacific NW Regional Show
- Region 3
- Region 5
- Region 6
- Region 8
- Region 9
Fall is rapidly approaching here in Colorado and I’m sure everyone’s summer has gone way too fast.
With everyone’s busy summer, we didn’t have any changes for the MHBA. Planning & discussion continues with the development of the Junior program. We are continuing to develop some ideas for marketing Miniature Hereford Cattle as well as the beef aspect of the breed. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, please contact your Regional Director or any Executive Board Member.
I also want to alert all of you to a rule change by the American Hereford Association that concerns registration of bulls. The new rule reads as follows:
*All Hereford bulls born after January 1, 2011 are required to be DNA typed at the official AHA DNA laboratory before their progeny can be registered.*
Please keep this in mind, as it will impact registration of calves in the future. Please contact the AHA for any questions or information.
Fall also brings a busy show season for many MHBA breeders. Hope all of you will consider entering and/or attending one of the upcoming shows. These shows provide an avenue of exposure and marketing for the Miniature Hereford Breed. Please see the “Upcoming Events” listing in this magazine for a complete schedule and details.
As always, please feel free to contact me for any information, questions, your suggestions or concerns.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center: La Niña is back
September 8, 2011
La Niña, which contributed to extreme weather around the globe during the first half of 2011, has re-emerged in the tropical Pacific Ocean and is forecast to gradually strengthen and continue into winter. Today, forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center upgraded last month’s La Niña Watch to a La Niña Advisory.
NOAA will issue its official winter outlook in mid-October, but La Niña winters often see drier than normal conditions across the southern tier of the United States and wetter than normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley.
“This means drought is likely to continue in the drought-stricken states of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center. “La Niña also often brings colder winters to the Pacific Northwest and the northern Plains, and warmer temperatures to the southern states.”
Climate forecasts from NOAA’s National Weather Service give American communities advance notice of what to expect in the coming months so they can prepare for potential impacts. This service is helping the country to become a Weather Ready Nation at a time when extreme weather is on the rise.
Seasonal hurricane forecasters factored the potential return of La Niña into NOAA’s updated 2011 Atlantic hurricane season outlook, issued in August, which called for an active hurricane season. With the development of tropical storm Nate this week, the number of tropical cyclones entered the predicted range of 14-19 named storms.
The strong 2010-11 La Niña contributed to record Winter snowfall, Spring flooding and drought across the United States, as well as other extreme weather events throughout the world, such as heavy rain in Australia and an extremely dry equatorial eastern Africa.
La Niña is a naturally occurring climate phenomenon located over the tropical Pacific Ocean and results from interactions between the ocean surface and the atmosphere. During La Niña, cooler-than-average Pacific Ocean temperatures influence global weather patterns. La Niña typically occurs every three-to-five years, and back-to-back episodes occur about 50 percent of the time. Current conditions reflect a re-development of the June 2010-May 2011 La Niña episode.
NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA’s National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy. Visit us online at weather.gov and on Facebook.
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.
Use Caution When Buying Hay This Year
USAgNet – 09/19/2011
With a dry growing season this year, barns of livestock producers are going into the Winter with lower than normal stocks of hay. Challenging weather has also made the availability of hay scarce, pasture supplies short and hay prices have risen as a result.
It’s important for hay buyers to beware of the quality and weight of the hay they are buying according to Tim Schnakenberg, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“Even though hay may look similar when sitting in a stack or in rows ready for sale, the variability in quality and weight of hay is significant,” said Schnakenberg.
Referring to large round fescue bales, Schnakenberg says a bale may range in weight from 500 to 1800 pounds depending on the baler used and the conditions at harvest. Protein levels in a bale may range from 4 to 18 percent.
Variables include the maturity of the forage when harvested, weed content, moldiness, leafiness and color. Buyers should also be cautious of the level of toxic nitrates that may exist in sorghum sudan or johnsongrass-containing hay.
Schnakenberg encourages hay buyers to test hay before purchasing it. There have been many fields of mature, first-cutting hay baled late in the season this year and offered for sale to the public.
“At the going price of grass hay these days, some producers may find a better deal buying alfalfa hay and not having to supplement to get their beef cows through the Winter. Another option may be a limit-fed program using corn or feed by-products,” said Schnakenberg.
Buyers should review the RFV (Relative Feed Value), protein levels and weights of bales they are buying and make decisions based on the quality and the price per ton. Producers are also advised to make the most of their Winter pasture in times such as these.
Schnakenberg recently calculated the current cost of feeding hay to the cost of feeding fertilized stockpiled fescue and found that a cow may be fed stockpiled fescue at cost of around $.37 per day compared to over $.80 per day to feed fescue hay.
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.
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.
(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.