Wet Pastures and Foot Rot

– Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist

Spring rains have filled the ponds and saturated the ground in many pastures. As the temperatures heat up, cattle will start to congregate around or in the ponds or other standing water. One of the challenges that cattle producers may face this summer is the occasional lame cow or yearling. “Foot rot” is a common cause of lameness in beef cattle on pastures. Foot rot is an infection that starts between the toes of the infected animal and usually is a result of the introduction of a bacteria through broken skin. The infection causes pain and the resulting lameness. The lameness can cause decreases in weight gain of young cattle, milk production decline of adult cows and lame bulls will be reluctant to breed.

Treatment of foot rot can be successful when the treatment is started early in the disease process. Most cases require the use of Continue reading

Udder Quality in Beef Cows – Does it Matter?

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, DVM, Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and Dr. Darrh Bullock, Extension Professor, Breeding and Genetics, University of Kentucky

Picture 1: The two front quarters are blind (dry).

Udder and teat quality are two of the most important functional traits for a beef cow. Although much of the focus in selection of female replacements is on milk production, the milk delivery system (udder and teats) is equally important. It is easy to see that newborn calves have a difficult time nursing oversized teats, especially if hanging very close to the ground, which often results in inadequate colostrum intake. However, there is limited research regarding the occurrence of mastitis in beef cattle and its associated effects. “Mastitis” is infection (usually bacterial) of the milk-producing tissue or “mammary gland”. A cow with a case of mastitis will typically have one or more affected quarters that are swollen and produce abnormal milk. The milk may be thick with clots, thin and watery, or may not look unusual depending on the infecting bacteria. Some cows exhibit signs of illness such as Continue reading

I Normally Like Ribs . . .

– Dr. Les Anderson, Beef Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky

Jeff, Darrh, and I were chatting the other day and, amazingly, we all agreed on something! Over our many miles of travel this winter/spring, we have seen more ribs on cows that any of us can remember. The wet, cold winter and poor hay quality has really stressed cows and if we don’t watch out, it will impact rebreeding.

A successful breeding season begins with nutritional management decisions made prior to calving but most spring-calving herds are past that now. “Ribs” are best maintained over the winter during the two trimesters of pregnancy. Visible ribs are one component of body condition score. Body condition score (BCS) is a numerical estimation of the amount of fat on the cow’s body. It ranges from 1-9; with 1 being emaciated and 9 extremely obese. A change in a single BCS (i.e. a 4 to a 5) is usually associated with about a 75 pound change in body weight. Evaluation of BCS prior to calving and from calving to breeding is important to ensure Continue reading

Calving: How and when to intervene

Stan Smith, Fairfield County PA, OSU Extension

With calving season progressing across Ohio, one question that is often asked is when, if and how should one intervene to help with the birthing process?

During a portion of his presentation during the 2019 Ohio Beef School, Dr. Justin Kieffer discussed intervention in the birthing process, and how to properly pull a calf. Find that portion of Dr. Kieffer’s presentation below.

Colostrum; Do I need a Replacer or Supplement?

Stan Smith, Fairfield County PA, OSU Extension

Most know that calves are not born with any immunoglobulins, which help provide protection from disease. Immunoglobulins are supplied by the cow via colostrum, or first milk, and calves only have a 24 hour window to ingest these molecules through the lining of their gut before that window closes.

Occasionally due to the death of the cow at birth, or perhaps other calamity, new born calves aren’t able to receive adequate colostrum from the cow. In this event, colostrum can be provided to the calf in a few different ways including through purchased colostrum replacers, or supplements. The question is often asked, “which is best, or even Continue reading

Posted in Health

What To Do When Calves Are Born Weak

– Michelle Arnold, DVM, Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

“Weak Calf Syndrome” is a term applied to any calf born alive but is slow to stand and may or may not attempt to nurse. Calves born to dams that experience weight loss during the final 50-60 days of gestation are at high risk of being weak. An energy deficient diet fed to late gestation cows leads to prolonged labor, dystocia (difficult birth), poor quality and quantity of colostrum and decreased milk production. Many of the newborn calves presented to the UKVDL in recent weeks for necropsy have had no milk within the digestive tract. With excellent management, some weak calves will survive but most will die shortly after birth. If they survive, many experience sickness, decreased growth rates and lower weaning weights. The following is a summary of known factors involved in weak calf syndrome and how to best Continue reading

Participate in the NAHMS study “Health Management on U.S. Feedlots, 2020”

The USDA initiated the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) in 1983 to collect, analyze, and disseminate data on animal health, management, and productivity across the United States. The NAHMS team conducts national studies on the health and management of United States domestic livestock populations. These studies are designed to meet the information needs of the industries associated with these commodities, as identified by people within those industries.

Presently through April 7, 2019, NAHMS is conducting a needs assessment survey to gather input from cattle producers and other stakeholders about priorities regarding cattle health that should be included in the upcoming study titled “Health Management on U.S. Feedlots, 2020.” To participate and offer your input, go to this SurveyMonkey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/feedlothealth

For more information about NAHMS, visit their website at: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/monitoring-and-surveillance/nahms

Beef AG NEWS: Vaccination Programs Considerations for the Beef Breeding Herd

With calving season into full swing throughout much of Ohio, breeding season is around the corner. A well planned breeding herd vaccination program can improve fertility and conception rates.

In this edition of the Beef AG NEWS, host Duane Rigsby and OSU Extension Beef Coordinator John Grimes offer considerations for implementing your pre-breeding season whole herd vaccination program.

Calves = Very Valuable; Bulls Deemed “Satisfactory Potential Breeders” = Priceless!

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator and Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Perhaps to the inexperienced, or uniformed, it sounds simple enough: purchase bull; put bull with cows; calves appear in ~ 283 days; collect calves 205 days later; sell calves for good prices! Well maybe it should be that simple, but . . . I think most Ohio cattlemen will agree it is not!

When considering all of the traits of importance to today’s cattleman, a primary focus of any cow-calf producer must be getting a live calf on the ground. That starts with fertility. While both the male and female contribute to the herd’s level of fertility and its ultimate productivity, the herd sire is the more important component. An individual cow with poor fertility will certainly affect one potential calf a year. However, the bull affects every potential calf in Continue reading

Grass Tetany –Start Preventive Measures Now

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL); Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, University of Kentucky; Dr. Cynthia Gaskill, Veterinary Toxicologist, University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

What is “Grass Tetany” and when are cattle most likely to have it? Grass tetany, also known as spring tetany, grass staggers, wheat pasture poisoning, winter tetany or lactation tetany, is a condition due to a low level of magnesium (Mg) in the blood. The disorder in adult cattle begins with muscle spasms and quickly progresses to convulsions, respiratory difficulty, and death. The amount of magnesium in the blood is completely dependent on the amount obtained from the daily diet. Deficiencies occur most often in beef cows when they are nursing a calf and grazing young, green grass in early spring. Fast-growing spring pastures are high in potassium (K+) and nitrogen (N+) and low in magnesium (Mg++) and sodium (Na+). Affected cattle often have low blood calcium concurrently. Fall calving cows may also experience grass tetany during the winter months.

Will Feeding Plain White Salt to Cows Prevent Grass Tetany? This claim is shared every spring and, indeed, there are producers who do not have grass tetany that only feed salt. How can that be? Simply put, for those few lucky producers, the minerals available in their soils and forages are enough to meet the needs of their cows. A number of complex factors contribute to Continue reading