Is That Tree or Shrub Poisonous? What You Don’t Want Your Cattle to Eat (Part II)

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL) and a special thanks to JD Green, PhD (Extension Professor (Weed Scientist), UK Plant and Soil Sciences Department)

Poisonous trees and shrubs are responsible for considerable losses in livestock although producers are often somewhat familiar with their potential for harm. Wilted wild cherry tree leaves, hedge trimmings from Japanese Yew (Taxus species), acorns and buckeyes are common causes of illness and death in Kentucky cattle every year. The potential for poisoning depends on the availability, type and quantity of the toxin within the leaves, seeds and sometimes the bark of the tree or shrub. A majority of the time, cattle will not consume them unless pasture is limited due to drought or overgrazing or they are baled up in hay. However, if cattle have access to hedge trimmings carelessly thrown over a fence or a cherry tree loses a limb during a thunderstorm, cattle may quickly eat enough to result in death despite having plenty of pasture available. Usually large quantities are required to cause problems (as is the case with buckeyes) but some plants, such as Japanese Yew, are deadly with just a few mouthfuls. Plant (tree, shrub or weed) poisoning should be considered a possibility in cattle on pasture with a sudden onset of unexplained symptoms such as diarrhea, salivation or slobbering, muscle weakness, trembling, incoordination, staggering, collapse, severe difficulty breathing or Continue reading

Assemble a Calf Crop Resilient to the Challenges of Disease

Justin Kieffer, DVM, Clinical Veterinarian, Assistant Professor, Office of the Attending Veterinarian and Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

Completing a number of management techniques and vaccine protocols prior to the stress of weaning, comingling and transport will help assemble a calf crop more resilient to disease challenges.

Now that calving is completed, the days are longer, and the grass is growing (hopefully), it is time to start preparing for the weaning and eventual sale or feedlot finishing of your

calf crop and development of your replacement females. Once the cow calf pairs have been kicked out to pasture in the spring, there is a tendency to put off or ignore the steps needed not only to set the feedlot calf up for success, but also to lay the groundwork for proper health for your new heifers.

Management techniques such as castration and dehorning should take place as soon as possible. Waiting too long to remove the testicles, either by banding or cutting, increases the risk of bleeding and infection, and knocks the calf off feed for an extended period of time. The smaller the calf, the less attached they are to their testicles. Removal of Continue reading

Is That Weed Poisonous? What You Don’t Want Your Cattle to Eat (Part I)

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL) and a special thanks to JD Green, PhD (Extension Professor (Weed Scientist), UK Plant and Soil Sciences Department)

Poisonous plants are responsible for considerable losses in livestock although many cases go unrecognized and undiagnosed due to a lack of knowledge of which plants could be responsible and the wide range of symptoms that may result from consumption. The potential for poisoning depends on the availability and quantity of the toxic weed, the stage or maturity of plant growth, weather, and season of the year. Most weeds have an undesirable taste and cattle will not consume them unless they are baled up in hay or pasture is limited due to drought or overgrazing. However, if cattle have access to areas where toxic weeds predominate and little else to consume, the potential exists to eat enough of one particular plant to result in illness or death. Usually large quantities are required to cause problems but some are deadly with just a few mouthfuls. Plant poisoning should be considered a possibility in cattle on pasture with a sudden onset of unexplained symptoms such as diarrhea, salivation or slobbering, muscle weakness, trembling, incoordination, staggering, collapse, severe difficulty breathing or rapid death. Oftentimes plant poisonings only affect a few cattle in the herd and severity of symptoms primarily depends on Continue reading

Heat Stress in Feedlot Cattle

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist (This article derived from: Kevin F. Sullivan and Terry L. Mader. June 2018. Managing heat stress episodes in confined cattle. Vet Clin Food Anim 34: 325–339 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749072018300161)

Feedlot cattle consuming large amounts of feed and gaining rapidly generate significant amounts of metabolic heat begin to challenge and animals ability to handle heat stress. An animal can endure high ambient temperatures if heat gain during the daytime hours is balanced with heat loss during the nighttime hours. If nighttime ambient temperatures remain high, especially if the relative humidity is also high, there is no time for recovery.

Assessing Heat Stress in Feedlot Cattle

The ability to predict a heat stress event allows for preparation and mitigation of the effects on animal well-being and animal performance. Temperature-Humidity Indexes have been used for more than 40 years to assess heat stress in cattle. There are also Heat Load Indexes for cattle. Such indexes exits in Continue reading

Water; Vital to Beating Summer Heat

– Aerica Bjurstrom, UW-Extension Kewaunee County

Water is the most important nutrient an animal requires and consumes daily. Depending on weight, production stage, and environmental temperature, cattle require varying amounts of water. A University of Georgia publication suggests for cattle in 90 °F temperatures, a growing animal or a lactating cow needs two gallons of water per 100 pounds of body weight. A nonlactating cow or bull needs one gallon of water per 100 pounds of body weight. Using these figures, a single cow/calf pair can require roughly 25 to 40 gallons of water daily. A nursing calf with have a portion of its daily water needs from its dam’s milk. Providing multiple water sources or tanks in the pasture will increase consumption and decrease competition and fighting at the water tank.

Water quality is just as important as water volume intake. Compromised quality can reduce water intake, which can lead to illness and metabolic issues. Testing water for salinity, nitrates, and sulfates is recommended. Cattle prefer water that contains small amounts of salt, however, water that contains high amounts of total dissolved salts (TDS) can result in reduced performance. Guidelines suggest that water containing Continue reading

Feeding Sprouted or Otherwise Damaged Wheat to Beef Cattle

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Cattle Specialist

In light of the delay in wheat harvest caused by the weather, last week I was asked if sprouted or otherwise damaged wheat had much feed value in a beef ration. The answer is, “Yes, it does.”

Wheat can be used to replace a part of the grain ration when protein prices are high and wheat is relatively cheap compared to other grains. As a general rule, limit mold-free wheat to 50% of the grain portion in finishing diets. However, some experienced feeders have used larger amounts of wheat. I tend to recommend lower levels to people not familiar with feeding wheat though (fast fermentation). Lower quality wheat: Limit wheat to 40% of dry matter or 50% of corn, whichever is highest. Take a longer time to build up to full feed than you would with corn. I would not recommend using wheat in high grain diets on Continue reading

Preparing for Pinkeye 2018

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL), University of Kentucky

Figure 1: Corneal ulceration in the early stages of pinkeye. Photo from Veterinary Clinics of North America, Food Animal Practice 26 (2010), page 489.

Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) or “Pinkeye” is a costly and exasperating disease for the beef producer and industry. A field trial published in 2009 found an average weaning weight difference of 18 pounds less (range 9-27 lbs) in calves that experienced pinkeye versus those that did not. Calves with corneal scars are often discounted at sale, further increasing the economic cost of IBK to producers. A recent study found continued impact in the beef industry from pinkeye on production traits. Yearlings that had pinkeye as young calves pre-weaning had less 12th rib fat depth, ribeye area, and body weight than did yearlings without evidence of pinkeye. Despite the well-known economic impact of disease, adequate and timely treatment of cases is challenging because cattle are grazed far away from facilities during peak occurrence in summer months. Preventing the disease has proven difficult because Continue reading

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Calf Castration Considerations

– Lew Strickland, Extension Veterinarian, University Of Tennessee

One of the questions that I hear the most concerning castration is; when should I castrate my calves Doc? Many producers will castrate their calves when they are two or three days old, which is my preferred period. Castration should occur when the calf is rather young. The older the calf, the more likely that calf will suffer a setback (which cost the producer money). In addition, larger calves are more difficult to handle and restrain for the procedure. The latest castration should be done is one month prior to weaning to avoid any extra stress from the weaning process. Bull calves castrated at or following weaning can retain a stag like appearance and attitude that the feedlot operator discounts. Purebred operators can still castrate bull calves that are culls and still realize some profit.

The choice of castration method is the preference of the operator, age and weight of the calf, and the time of year performing the procedure. In all techniques, sanitize the hands and castration instruments between each calf to prevent the spread and/or introduction of disease.

There are three methods of castration, which range from Continue reading

Start Now to Prevent Anaplasmosis This Fall

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL), University of Kentucky

Anaplasma marginale is an organism that lives in red blood cells and causes the only major “tick-borne” disease in the US affecting cattle production. Although ticks are important for this organism to survive year after year, transmission is by any transfer of infected red blood cells from infected to susceptible cattle. This includes biting insects (mosquitoes, horse flies, stable flies) and/or using blood contaminated instruments such as dehorners, ear taggers, castration tools, and implant guns. Probably the most common way it is transmitted is using the same needle on multiple animals when administering vaccines to the herd.

The disease usually affects adult cattle in the fall of the year with the majority of cases submitted to the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (UKVDL) starting in late September and continuing through the first 1-2 weeks of November. This organism causes anemia in adult cattle which means there is a very low number of red blood cells in the bloodstream. Lack of red blood cells results in a lack of oxygen to the vital organs in the body. Infected cattle will show signs of Continue reading

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A survey of recommended practices made by veterinary practitioners to cow-calf operations in the U.S. & Canada

– G. Fike, J. Simroth, D. Thompson, E. Schwandt, R. Spare, A. Tarpoff; Contributed by S. Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist.

Veterinary practitioners provide constant advice and recommendations to beef cow-calf operations across the United States and Canada regarding health, well-being, and production practices to gain satisfactory health status and optimum herd performance. Practicing veterinarians (n = 148) who service commercial beef cow-calf herds responded to a survey describing general recommendations made to their clients in terms of vaccine protocol, health, and production practices. Responding veterinarians represented 35 states in the United States and 3 provinces in Canada. More than 50% of responding veterinarians devote over 50% of their practice to Continue reading

Posted in Health