Moldy Feed and the Potential Effects on Cattle

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL)

Record-setting rainfall in 2018 has resulted in moldy hay and feed throughout the Commonwealth. Many questions regarding the safety of these feedstuffs and how to test them have come to the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UKVDL) as producers begin to feed these moldy products. While mycotoxins (mold poisons) are the main concern, molds themselves can adversely affect health and productivity of cattle. Ingestion of moldy feed or hay can potentially cause mycotic (fungal) abortion, respiratory effects, decreased feed consumption and rate of gain, and digestive problems. Additionally, molds can have effects on humans that handle the moldy feed. A wide variety of mycotoxins, not all of which can be tested for, can be produced in moldy feeds and hay under the right conditions, and ingestion of sufficient amounts of various mycotoxins can result in a large array of clinical effects. Testing is recommended but proper sample collection is crucial as samples must be representative of the whole field, cutting or batch. Although there is no foolproof approach to avoiding health effects, a practical approach involves testing suspect feeds in the ration, avoiding moldy feed if possible, and dilute with clean feed to minimize effects.

The presence of considerable mold in hay is a fairly common occurrence but when is too much mold a problem? Several laboratories have the ability to run mold spore counts (reported in mold spore count per gram) to help quantify the extent of mold present. Recommendations from Penn State Extension (https://extension.psu.edu/mold-and-mycotoxin-problems-in-livestock-feeding) regarding feed risks with various mold counts are presented in Table 1. Generally, moldy hay is Continue reading

Managing in Mud

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Trudging through mud that’s only dew claw deep can reduce animal performance by as much as 7%

As most of Ohio quickly approaches the record for the wettest year in history, cattlemen continue to deal with the ramifications caused when it gets wet in February, stays wet throughout the spring, and summer, and continues wet into winter. The result is more than just a forage quality issue . . . it results in MUD! Whatever happened to the adage, “One extreme follows another.” We’ve certainly got to be due for a stretch of “extremely dry!”

While mud is, at best, an inconvenience when it comes to managing most any aspect of a farm – especially a beef cattle farm – it also can easily evolve into a livestock health and nutrition issue. In an article on Feedlot Mud Management that OSU Extension Specialist Steve Boyles published here a few years ago he suggests that Continue reading

Rabies in Livestock

Timothy McDermott DVM, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County (originally published in Farm & Dairy)

Many diseases can affect animals on pasture. The most difficult ones to stay aware of are the diseases that are uncommon, where the producer or livestock may never encounter the disease. Many diseases that affect livestock have presentation forms that can mimic multiple other diseases that are more common, leading to a delay in veterinary care or producer awareness. One disease that can affect livestock that fits this description, but should stay firmly in a producer’s awareness is rabies.

Rabies is an ancient disease caused by a virus. The Latin translation of rabies means, “To rave or rage”. The virus spreads in its host in an unusual way compared to how most people think of viral spread. While many viruses spread through the bloodstream, enter via the respiratory tract or digestive tract by ingestion, rabies is a neurotropic virus, meaning it spread along the nerves in the nervous system. After an infected host bites an animal or human, the virus enters the wound via Continue reading

Posted in Health

Stirring the Pot at Weaning

– Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Associate Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

The many challenges facing the beef industry today sometimes can seem a bit overwhelming. Issues such as lab grown meat, trade negotiations, genomics, antibiotic utilization, sustainability, and so many other issues are thrown into the stone soup of beef production. At some point you have to wonder when will the soup be spoiled by so many spices. The best thing you can do is be familiar with the components you are adding. This means we need to be as informed as we possibly can about our industry’s driving forces.

What main ingredient is stirred into the industry “soup pot” every fall? This time of year folks are weaning and marketing their spring-born calf crop. Weaning is a transition phase for calves and, to keep our “soup” from spoiling, we need to be knowledgeable of management practices that can reduce the stress that calves experience due to the many changes during this period. Stressors a calf may experience at this time include Continue reading

Pneumonia in Feeder Calves? Don’t Forget Histophilus somni

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL)

In this era of advanced vaccine technology and long-acting, expensive, powerful antibiotics, why do cases of Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) continue to increase? One reason is the re-emergence of Histophilus somni (formerly known as Haemophilus somnus) as a major bacterial pathogen responsible for the development of pneumonia in feeder operations. While Mannheimia haemolytica is the bacteria known to cause the dramatic pneumonia signs of fever, depression, appetite loss and rapid death, Histophilus somni (HS) can cause similar symptoms and is proving very difficult to treat and control with traditional methods. The organism is often found in combination with Pasteurella multocida or other BRD bacteria in “biofilms” which are clusters of bacteria in a matrix that serves as protection from antibiotics and host immune system responses. Stress can trigger dispersal of large numbers bacteria from the biofilm that can then invade the lower respiratory system. Once it establishes infection in the lungs, it can travel in the bloodstream to joints, organs (especially the heart), and to the brain. These calves may develop pneumonia, pleuritis (infection of the membrane surrounding the lungs), myocarditis (infection in the heart muscle), thrombotic meningoencephalitis (infection in the brain), tenosynovitis (infection within joints), and otitis media (middle ear infection). The disease can happen anytime in the year but most clinical cases occur between October Continue reading

Posted in Health

Fall is the time to control lice. Or is it?

– W. Mark Hilton, DVM, PAS, DABVP, clinical professor emeritus, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine

Fall is the time of year we think about lice control in much of the country, but is that the correct timing? More and more we hear producers and veterinarians lament about lack of effectiveness of lice control. Are lice getting harder to treat? Here’s a little history.

Cattle can have two types of lice: chewing (or biting) lice and sucking lice. These pests live their entire life cycle on the animal. Yes, some lice can fall off the animal and live in bedding for a few days, but that is of minor significance when we think about controlling the parasite.

The lice causing excessive scratching and hair loss around the neck and shoulders during the winter are actually on the animal the entire Continue reading

Avoid Forage Toxicities After Frosts

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

As cold weather approaches this week, livestock owners need to keep in mind the few forage species that can be extremely toxic soon after a frost. Several species contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues. A few legumes species have an increased risk of causing bloat when grazed after a frost. Each of these risks is discussed in this article along with precautions to avoid them.

Species with prussic acid poisoning potential

Forage species that can contain prussic acid are listed below in decreasing order of risk of toxicity after a frost Continue reading

The Effect of Cow Udder Score on Calf Performance

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

Nebraska research shows hot carcass weights were lighter from bad uddered cows.

Scientists at the University of Nebraska (J. Beard, J. Musgrave, R. Funston and J. Mulliniks) used 812 cows and their udder scores to evaluate calf performance. Udders scores were recorded from a 1 (bad) to 5 (good) as reported in the Integrated Resource Management Guide (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association). They then separated the data into 2 groups of Bad Udders (1 and 2 scores) and Good Udders (3 or greater scores). There were 233 cows with Bad Udders and 1,742 cows with Good udders.

There was not a difference in Continue reading

Use Your Eyes and Records to Decide Which Cows to Cull

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL)

Bad hooves or claws are an example of structural problems that adversely affect performance.

Which cows in your herd are consistently making you money? Every year, the cow-calf producer needs to critically evaluate each animal in the herd and decide if she is paying her upkeep. Open cows (those that are not pregnant) at the end of breeding season obviously are high on the cull list. With variable costs running $400-$500 per year per head and an additional $100-$300 in fixed costs, keeping open cows is difficult to justify financially. Beyond pregnancy status, what other variables are important to evaluate? Structural soundness, body condition score, age, annual performance, and disposition are significant factors to consider when developing a culling order specifically for your farm. This culling order is essentially a ranking of the cow traits you consider most important for a cow to be productive on your farming operation. Culling is exceptionally important during times of Continue reading

Fall Plant Control of cressleaf groundsel; Prevent the sea of yellow in the spring

– Dr. Diane Gerken, DVM, ABVT Veterinary Toxicologist

ODA’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab has been involved in two separate cases with animals affected by the toxicity of this plant in the past year.

This plant is Senecio glabellus or now called Packera glabella which occurs in some uncultivated Ohio fields. This is a picture indicating possible plant density in the springtime. If you made hay/haylage with this plant in it, the recommendation is to NOT feed it to livestock or horses. Also, do not use as pasture for any grazing animal.

ODA-ADDL personnel have been involved in two separate cases (one with classic pathology and the second with a positive chemical analyses for the specific pyrrolizidine alkaloids in this plant) with animals affected in the past year. This plant contains at least one toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloid (PA), senecionine but reported to contain more. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids cause liver disease in humans and animals after Continue reading