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.

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.

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 vets gone?

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.

 

For Ranch Wives Everywhere

“For ranch wives everywhere”

This time of year, when the cattle are being worked and shipped, is usually a time of high stress on ranch marriages – not unlike calving, lambing, planting, haying, combining, feeding, and all of the other seasons of ranch wife life.
Julie Carter of Carrizozo, New Mexico, whose ‘Cowgirl Sass’ articles sometimes appear in Agri-News, wrote these Ranch Wife 101 Guidelines, which seem very appropriate to share during shipping season. She is obviously a genius because these are good enough to hang on the refrigerator!

Never – and I repeat never – ever believe the phrase, ‘We’ll be right back,’ when he has asked you to help him do something on the ranch. The echoing words, ‘This will only take a little while,’ have tricked generations of ranch wives and still today should invoke sincere distrust in the woman who hears them.
Always know there is no romantic intention when he pleadingly asks you to take a ride in the pickup with him around the ranch while he checks water and cattle. What that sweet request really means is that he wants someone to open the gates.

He will always expect you to be able to quickly find one stray in a four-section brush-covered pasture, but he will never be able to find the mayonnaise jar in a four-square-foot refrigerator.
Always load your horse last in the trailer so it is the first one unloaded. By the time he gets his horse unloaded, you will have your cinch pulled and be mounted up – lessening the chance of him riding off without you while your horse tries to follow with you hopping along beside it, still trying to get your foot in the stirrup.

Count everything you see – cattle especially, but also horses, deer, quail or whatever moves. Count it in the gate, or on the horizon. The first time you don’t count is when he will have expected that you did. That blank eyelash-batting look you give him when he asks, ‘How many?’ will not be acceptable.

Know that you will never be able to ride a horse or drive a pickup to suit him. Given the choice of jobs, choose throwing the feed off the back of the truck to avoid the opportunity for constant criticism of your speed, ability, and eyesight. ( How in the $@*!&* could you NOT see that hole?’)

Never allow yourself to be on foot in the alley when he is sorting cattle on horseback. When he has shoved 20 head of running, bucking, kicking yearlings at you and hollers, ‘Hold ‘em, hold ‘em!’ at the top of his lungs, don’t think that you really can do that without loss of life or limb. Contrary to what he will lead you to believe, walking back to the house is always an option that has been exercised throughout time.

Don’t expect him to correctly close snap-on tops on plastic refrigerator containers, but know he will expect you to always close every gate. His reasoning is that the cows will get out, but the food cannot.
Always praise him lavishly when he helps in the kitchen – the very same way he does when you help him with ranch work – OR NOT!

Finally, know that when you step out of the house, you move from ‘wife’ to ‘hired hand’ status. Although the word ‘hired’ indicates there will be a paycheck (that you will never see), rest assured that you have job security. The price is just right, and you will always be ‘the best help he has’ – mainly because you are the ONLY help he has!”

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.

For Ranch Wives Everywhere

Reprinted – Source unknown

This time of year, when the cattle are being worked and shipped, is usually a time of high stress on ranch marriages – not unlike calving, lambing, planting, haying, combining, feeding, and all of the other seasons of ranch wife life.
Julie Carter of Carrizozo, New Mexico, whose ‘Cowgirl Sass’ articles sometimes appear in Agri-News, wrote these Ranch Wife 101 Guidelines, which seem very appropriate to share during shipping season. She is obviously a genius because these are good enough to hang on the refrigerator!

Never – and I repeat never – ever believe the phrase, ‘We’ll be right back,’ when he has asked you to help him do something on the ranch. The echoing words, ‘This will only take a little while,’ have tricked generations of ranch wives and still today should invoke sincere distrust in the woman who hears them.
Always know there is no romantic intention when he pleadingly asks you to take a ride in the pickup with him around the ranch while he checks water and cattle. What that sweet request really means is that he wants someone to open the gates.

He will always expect you to be able to quickly find one stray in a four-section brush-covered pasture, but he will never be able to find the mayonnaise jar in a four-square-foot refrigerator.
Always load your horse last in the trailer so it is the first one unloaded. By the time he gets his horse unloaded, you will have your cinch pulled and be mounted up – lessening the chance of him riding off without you while your horse tries to follow with you hopping along beside it, still trying to get your foot in the stirrup.

Count everything you see – cattle especially, but also horses, deer, quail or whatever moves. Count it in the gate, or on the horizon. The first time you don’t count is when he will have expected that you did. That blank eyelash-batting look you give him when he asks, ‘How many?’ will not be acceptable.

Know that you will never be able to ride a horse or drive a pickup to suit him. Given the choice of jobs, choose throwing the feed off the back of the truck to avoid the opportunity for constant criticism of your speed, ability, and eyesight. ( How in the $@*!&* could you NOT see that hole?’)

Never allow yourself to be on foot in the alley when he is sorting cattle on horseback. When he has shoved 20 head of running, bucking, kicking yearlings at you and hollers, ‘Hold ‘em, hold ‘em!’ at the top of his lungs, don’t think that you really can do that without loss of life or limb. Contrary to what he will lead you to believe, walking back to the house is always an option that has been exercised throughout time.

Don’t expect him to correctly close snap-on tops on plastic refrigerator containers, but know he will expect you to always close every gate. His reasoning is that the cows will get out, but the food cannot.
Always praise him lavishly when he helps in the kitchen – the very same way he does when you help him with ranch work – OR NOT!

Finally, know that when you step out of the house, you move from ‘wife’ to ‘hired hand’ status. Although the word ‘hired’ indicates there will be a paycheck (that you will never see), rest assured that you have job security. The price is just right, and you will always be ‘the best help he has’ – mainly because you are the ONLY help he has!”

Best Bald Spot

Well we loaded up with great anticipation the livestock (12 head but it felt like 40) and 4 grandkids and headed to Houston. Everything was good and going well. But were we ever surprised when we arrived and unloaded. There before our eyes were some bald spots. Now these were not little either, as a matter of fact they looked HUGE to us. And not on one heifer but two, no THREE (yikes)!! We couldn’t believe our eyes and the grandkids were shocked they had worked so hard on that hair and now here they were with heifers and bald spots. But we began to look around and realized we were not alone and that was comforting (if you can be comforted in that situation). So I thought hey why not have a Biggest Bald Spot Award. Surely we could win that one with hands down from the looks of it. With that thought in mind of having a fun award I began to ask anyone that wanted to join in to come on and many did. Even Jeff Fulgham entered, but not his heifer (who had no bald spot), he entered his own head can you believe that. Well when the voting was done we had a winner. And the winner was not LK Robinson Farms with that huge bald spot on that heifer but instead Jeff Fulgham and the bald spot on his head. Jeff in turn donated his bald spot winnings to the MHYF and was just happy to have received the very first Biggest Bald Spot Award given at a Miniature Hereford Show (and hopefully the last but who knows maybe not). His winnings and donation totaled $200.00. We want to thank everyone that participated and Jeff for his donation to the Miniature Hereford Youth Foundation. Hope to see everyone again next year and hopefully with no bald spots.
Sherry Robinson
LK Robinson Farms Inc.

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

Exactly What is a Miniature Hereford?

EXACTLY WHAT IS A MINIATURE HEREFORD

There’s a lot of misunderstanding being perpetrated regarding the classification of Miniature Herefords, making them out to be a separate breed, which they are not. This is causing unnecessary confusion among new owners and potential breeders. Quite simply the animal is a Hereford first by breed and a miniature second by size. A look at some of the terminology which has been used incorrectly will show this.

Firstly, there is no such thing as a “purebred” Miniature Hereford. The description should be “full-blood Hereford” without any reference to the miniature size. A full-blood animal is one which has no other breed in its background going back many generations. In the case of Herefords this goes back several hundred years. A Hereford bred to another Hereford, regardless of size is still a full-blood Hereford. The only differentiations which can be made with Herefords are whether they are horned or polled or of different sizes e.g. standard, classic or miniature but those are just varieties of the same breed.

“Purebred” is the result of successive back breeding from original crossbreeding or interbreeding and this applies to using two or more entirely separate breeds. In this way we now have recognised breeds such as Belgian Blue, which was developed from native Belgian cattle crossed with Shorthorn and Charolais. The Australian Belmont Red is another example of crossing or interbreeding, in this case Africander bulls over Hereford and Shorthorn cows. Purebred usually means a minimum 31/32 cattle which have been produced through a “grading up” process from the original breeds used.

“Crossbreeding” or “interbreeding” is exactly that – the mixing of different breeds. You cannot crossbreed or interbreed within the same breed. Therefore, the practice of referring to a Miniature Hereford with Classic or Standard Hereford in its pedigree as a crossbreed is totally untrue. All Miniature Herefords have this mixture of sizes (not breeds) in their pedigrees. A Brahman crossed with a Hereford produces a crossbreed known as a Braford – two separate breeds. Likewise a Brahman crossed with an Angus produces a Brangus. The popular Murray Grey is a result of crossing an Angus with a Shorthorn and refining the breed over many generations. Another interesting combination of breeds leads to the Mandalong Special which has Brahman, Shorthorn, Charolais, British White and Chianina in its background.

“Grading up” again applies to using more than one breed to combine particular genetics. It starts with using a bull from one breed with a cow of another breed. The first offspring is half-bred and heifers from this are then bred back to the original bull breed. The next offspring will be three-quarter bred and the procedure is repeated using part-bred heifers back to the original bull breed until offspring which are of 31/32 breeding are then classified as “purebred.” They are not full blood of either breed used. The “grading up” being used within the Hereford breed to produce a so-called fifth generation miniature is not justifiable as it is simply using two animals of different varieties of the same breed and the final outcome may not necessarily fall within miniature status as the frame score size could well be over the limit. The original process of acquiring miniatures was to breed the smallest Herefords possible to other small Herefords and continue from there to reduce the size, not to establish so many generations of breeding. Frame score can be heritable and changed mainly through using selected sires. Therefore, it is more important to know the frame score background of the animals being bred than their pedigrees.

“Inbreeding” along with “linebreeding” is now prevalent among Miniature Hereford herds in both Australia and New Zealand owing to the lack of new bloodlines. Although one advantage is the early exposure of a defect, providing measures are taken to eradicate that, the main outcome is a loss of fertility along with detrimental effects on production efficiency. Inbreeding is computed as a percentage of chances for two alleles to be identical by descent. This percentage is called “inbreeding co-efficient.” Alleles are alternative forms of genes and part of the DNA coding which determines distinct traits which are passed on from parents to offspring. Progeny can have a 1 in 2 risk of inheriting identical alleles from both parents which greatly increases any negative effects. Linebreeding is a milder form of inbreeding through breeding of cousins. Anyone claiming to have “five generations” of “miniature” in an animal should properly examine its breeding; it is most likely the product of straight inbreeding or very close linebreeding, neither of which is desirable. For this reason conscientious breeders in other parts of the world occasionally introduce new bloodlines using mainly the smaller Classic Herefords which are of FS 2 or FS 3. This is known as “outbreeding” but it is still within the same breed.

In Australia and New Zealand there are Classic sized animals among the standard Hereford herds that are not actually classified as such. A miniature bull (FS 1 or less) over a Classic cow should produce progeny not much bigger than themselves.

Much has been made of a “foundation herd” and a claim that all Miniature Herefords in Australia and any animals coming to New Zealand from Australia must be linked to this. The foundation herd is nothing more than a collection of original imports from the USA most of which had a Classic Hereford in the immediate parentage. There is at least one animal classed as “miniature” which had Classics for both parents. How did the classification of “miniature” arise then? It could only have been on frame score as most of the Classics were FS 2 or 3. Was FS 2 considered “miniature”? It certainly wasn’t in the States. To restrict the classification as “miniature” to only particular animals whose pedigree traces back to chosen “ancestors” is not only irrelevant, it drastically narrows the gene pool and constitutes restrictive trading practice for other breeders who have animals which qualify by size, the only criteria needed. These latter animals are likely to have superior genetics through a widened gene pool and as such strengthen the overall breeding of Miniature Herefords.

Finally, to state that animals must be classified as “miniature” by only one particular group is an insult to the majority of breeders. The integrity of the breeder in noting the size of an animal goes hand in hand with the integrity of the breeder in stating the correct parentage. If the intending purchaser has any concerns, a request can be made for a DNA profile, the registration checked and the measurement process observed or done independently to confirm what has been stated. As it stands now, no group is the authoritative body for classification of Miniature Herefords. ly one particular group is an insult to the majority of breeders. The integrity of the breeder in noting the si

Beef Talk: Simple Bull Rankings in the Pen

Report Card for 8 Red Angus Bulls

Does the data support keeping them, or are there better bulls on the market that will meet your production goals?
By Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

The Dickinson Research Extension Center utilizes many bulls and always evaluates bulls at the time of purchase and periodically throughout their life span. Perhaps the most challenging evaluation is to ask if the bulls meet the current objectives of the breeding program or expected market for the calves.

Many good beef programs remain as words only if the right genetics is not in the bull pen to get the desired calf crop.

For the center, the heifer development program is being scaled back, which means the current inventory of calving-ease heifer bulls was reduced. In terms of future programs, the center has two different needs.

The first is for bulls that will sire heavy-muscled calves with a reduced frame and a slightly slower growth rate. These calves obviously will end up on a grass program and are projected to go to an older yearling market.

The second group of bulls will need to sire calves for the traditional fast-gaining, high-lean calf- fed market. These calves will be age and sourced for the less than 20 month of age calf market.

However, before either of these criteria can be discussed, the older bulls need to be evaluated based on soundness. Unsound bulls are not kept because putting more resources into a bull that more than likely will have limited breeding capacity is impractical.

Producers should evaluate their bulls periodically, especially when the bulls are penned where they can be observed closely. That slow-moving, standoffish bull may be covering up latent pasture injuries or fresh injuries due to the rough crowd in the bull pen.

The harsh reality is that small problems tend to become big problems. Even minor structural problems often will develop into movement problems during future breeding seasons.

The pecking order also can get severe enough that some bulls simply won’t breed. The old saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies now because the time to be thinking about next spring’s breeding soundness exams is now.

With the cold weather setting in, the best prevention for bull infertility is a well-bedded bull pen with limited exposure to the wind. Bulls need to be bedded and protected from severe cold to prevent scrotal frostbite.

After the review, only 10 bulls made the cut for next season. Two are Lowline bulls, while the others are Red Angus. All of the Red Angus bulls are registered with the American Red Angus Association and the registrations and data are current. Everyone is busy, so keeping up on the bull pen is not easy, but all the bulls are in good physical condition.

The bottom line is that the remaining bulls have a purpose, which is to fill the weaning pens in the fall of 2011 with the calves that the center desires. Seems like a long way off, but the calves will get here soon enough.

All the bulls were rated for some of the expected progeny differences (EPD) available from the Red Angus Association. The challenge with data is information overload. The information available on sale day was impressive enough to buy on sale day or the bulls were simply affordable. The question is, “Are they still good enough to stay or are there better bulls?” To make the process simple, the bulls are ranked and scored based on the desired EPDs.

If the bull scores in the upper 25 percentile within the breed for a specific EPD trait, the bull received an A. If the EPD value is in the upper 50 percentile, but less than the 25 percentile, the bull received a B grade. If the bull’s EPD value was in the lower 50 percentile, the bull received a C grade.

Having gone through the exercise, eight bulls passed the center’s needs, while the rest did not. In summation, the bull pen has eight good, meaty Red Angus bulls that vary in frame size. With the bull-buying season starting early next year, the center can better evaluate how many bulls are needed and, like any producer, can develop a budget to work with.

The process may seem cumbersome, but the take-home point is to gather some data and rank the bulls. Does the data support keeping them, or are there better bulls on the market that will meet your production goals? These are your cattle, so you need to become comfortable working the numbers and incorporating data into your decisions to ultimately meet your goal.

Happy bull sorting and turkey eating.

May you find all your ear tags.

Your comments are always welcome at http://www.BeefTalk.com.

For more information, contact the NDBCIA Office, 1041 State Ave., Dickinson, ND 58601, or go to http://www.CHAPS2000.com on the Internet.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

source: Kris Ringwall, (701) 483-2348, ext. 103, kris.ringwall@ndsu.edu
editor: Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu

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
steer.
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.

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.

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.

Minis 101: Selecting Your First Purchase

Minis 101: Selecting Your First Purchase

There are many variables to consider when you consider purchasing your first Miniature Hereford. First, you need to decide for what purpose you wish to raise Minis. Secondly, you need to determine the size and quality needed for that purpose. Then you will spend many hours researching various options for acquiring the type of animal you’ve selected, and finally you’ll realize your dream by hauling that special animal or group of animals home.

So why do you want to raise Miniature Herefords? For the kids? Grandkids? For cute lawnmowers in that enormous back yard you’re sick of mowing and fertilizing every summer? What about agricultural tax breaks in your area? Do you want the option of healthy beef for your family? Or maybe you want to shoot for that coveted Grand Champion buckle? Answering these questions will help determine what type of Miniature Hereford would best suit your needs.

If you’re looking for an animal that will do well with youngsters, you might want to consider one that is already halterbroken, and is known to be gentle around children. In this instance, and finances aside, the smallest animal you can find who still meets the temperament requirements would be your best choice, for the sake of safety. Depending on whether or not you wish to encourage your kids to show in 4H, FFA or in the Open shows – you might consider leaning toward a show-quality purchase versus pet-quality.

However, if you’re merely looking for a lawncare replacement, size is most likely not your primary concern; you would research calving ease of the animals and units-per-acre in your area to determine the number of head needed to properly “mow and fertilize” your property with as little intervention as possible.

Agricultural tax breaks are a common reason for investing in Miniature Herefords. In some areas of the country, the cost of purchasing the cattle is more than repaid within a few short years. These laws vary from state to state and county to county so be sure to check the regulations for your area.

Another common reason to invest in Miniature Herefords is for the beef. Miniature cattle do not fit the model for today’s beef production system, so do not expect to sell your cattle the “normal” way for any profit. Instead, you have the option of raising organic, grass-fed or natural beef for your family, friends or community members. The simplest method would be to raise beef for your family alone. Have it processed locally or process it yourself and you can provide for your family great-tasting beef that is far superior to even the highest grade grocery store beef. If you choose to label your beef and sell it, be sure to study the rules and regulations regarding the sale of meats, and the special labeling required.

If you wish to raise Miniature Herefords specifically for the show ring, be sure to obtain the best that money can buy and care for them extra specially well. Of course, we can’t all purchase last year’s grand champion in the hopes she’ll win again this year! So purchase the best animal you can find, remembering that price doesn’t always indicate quality. A well conditioned animal, exquisitely fitted and properly shown will still provide an excellent chance at that banner or buckle, and at the very least you’ll have lots of fun in the process.

Once you’ve determined what your purpose is, or which combination of goals you wish to pursue in the Miniature Hereford adventure, you’ll be able to rule out types of animals that are less likely to suit your agenda. The smaller the frame score (size) of the animal, or the more 0’s they’re said to have, the more expensive they will be. This is because 0000 is the smallest anyone has in any quantity. Try looking for a 00000 animal and you’re going to be searching for a while. You’d better be prepared to write a lot of 0’s on that check if you choose to purchase that animal, if you find him. On the other hand, there are many mid-sized Minis in the frame score 0 to 1 range and you’ll have a far wider selection of type and quality. What size and quality you eventually choose is up to you, your goals, your pocket book, and what is available when you’re ready to buy.

So you’ve now decided on the type of animal that will best suit your needs. How far are you willing to to travel to find this animal? Begin by locating breeders in your area, and if possible, go to see their breeding program in operation. Expand your search as necessary. Whatever you do, be sure you’re working with a reputable breeder when you finally choose to purchase. Common pitfalls are paying show-quality price for a pet-quality animal (so study up on your conformation points, visit shows and don’t hesitate to quiz breeders or your Regional Director) or paying top dollar for a small framed animal only to discover she’s not genetically small framed and won’t produce in kind (so study up on those pedigrees, sire/dam frame scores, and obtain references on prospective breeder-sellers). The more you’ve studied, the better your chances of arriving home with your dream cow.

Remember while shopping that somehow you’ll have to cart your acquisition home. If you have a trailer, no worries. If you don’t, ask the seller if they’ll deliver. And if they can’t or won’t, call your Regional Director to find out if there are any breeders currently hauling who might be able to help you out. Definitely solve the transportation logistics before handing over that down payment.

Whatever your path to first-time ownership, there is nothing quite like opening your trailer door and watching your new red white-face hop out of the trailer and trot down the fence line examining her new surroundings.

Welcome to the world of Miniature Herefords!