Muddy Issues; Mastitis and Scours

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension

Lactating animals are at greater risk of mastitis infections when it is muddy!

We finally got some snow and freezing temperatures! At our house, we didn’t get snow a single day that our Christmas decorations were up, but snow on Valentine’s Day was appreciated. Fresh snow provides a refreshing look to the landscape when it covers up all the muck and brown underneath it.  However, those cold temperatures are still not lasting long enough to firm up the ground and as soon as we track through that snow, our break from reality is over.

Mud creates challenges with mobility both for our animals and equipment. Aside from complicating the logistics of caring for the farm, mud increases our risks for herd health complications too. Many producers have babies on the farm right now. It is important to watch out for signs of mastitis with the mothers and scours with the young.

Lactating animals are at greater risk of mastitis infections when it is muddy. Contaminants on the udder tissue can enter the mammary glands through the milk ducts and cause inflammation. Mothers with mastitis may not Continue reading

Ol’ Man Winter is a Thief!

– Jeff Lehmkuhler, PhD, PAS, Beef Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky

Last winter we had a dramatic increase in the number of cattle deaths compared to previous winters. Excessive rain contributed to these losses and led to wet haircoats and mud conditions in the fields. In the midst of last year’s muddy conditions, we did a series of meetings discussing the effects of rain and mud. I discussed the impacts of wet haircoats on lower critical temperatures and increases in energy for maintenance. When I looked back over a 110-day period that spanned November into February, the local Mesonet station had recorded precipitation 50 of those days. I think Ol’ Man Winter has stolen our winter weather and your profits heading for warmer weather to relax.

How big of an impact is this weather on cattle? Not much research has been conducted under the exact conditions many of you may be dealing with on your farms. We have to interpret the research that is available and make educated guesses on how much the energy needs of cattle increases due to these conditions. This said, you should plan on greater energy needs of cattle outside and closely monitor cattle body condition and health.

I like to show the old foot in the box research in meetings. Ag engineers published work in the 1970’s looking at the impact of mud depth and moisture on the energy needed to lift a leg. These researches obtained a cattle leg from an abattoir and fixed an eye screw to the top of the leg bone. The foot was placed into a box and surrounded by mud of varying depths and moistures. At 1” of mud depth, about Continue reading

Use of Guard Llamas in an Integrated Predator Control System

– Natassaja Boham, Makenzie Doherty, and Jordan Johnson, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students and Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Llamas have proven to be beneficial as a guard animals in livestock production systems that include other small ruminants such as young calves and sheep.

In this latest Ag-note, Animal Sciences students Natassaja Boham, Makenzie Doherty, and Jordan Johnson highlight a unique ruminant species (pseudo ruminant that is) that can be used in any livestock operation as a means of control for predators. As Ohio legislation begins to reassess the status of the coyote in terms of being a fur-bearing animal, as a result producers may be limited in how they may be able to trap these predators, producers may be forced to find alternative means to manage this controversial wildlife livestock interaction.

The llama, not to be mistaken with the alpaca, is a large framed, cloven hoofed pseudo ruminant (3 chambered stomach) that originates from South America. Due to their size and natural ‘flocking’ instinct, llamas have proven to be beneficial as a guard animal in livestock production systems, especially with small ruminants. Due to their size alone, llamas pose as a threat to in-coming predators. Llamas have been shown to be most effective against canine species such as coyotes, red fox, wolves, and of course, the domestic dog.

When thinking of llamas, some may remember . . .

Continue reading Use of Guard Llamas in an Integrated Predator Control System

Proposed Coyote Trapping Changes Put on Hold

– Matt Reese, Ohio’s Country Journal editor (Previously published in Ohio’s Country Journal: Febuary 19, 2020)

There are concerns about the ability to control predation of livestock by coyotes

When coyote predation becomes a problem for a livestock operation, it can be a major issue that requires extensive measures to address. For this reason, an Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife proposal to designated coyotes as furbearers generated concerns from Ohio’s agriculture and hunters and trappers.

“There are a fair amount of hunters that don’t agree with it,” said Mike Rex, who sits on the Ohio Wildlife Council. “They see coyotes as vermin and not a furbearing animal like a fox, and they don’t think there should be any additional regulation.”

With the furbearer designation, coyote trapping by any person (including landowners) would be limited to the existing trapping season for fox, raccoon, skunk, opossum, and weasel which is Nov. 10 to Jan. 31. The current “landowner exemption” for fur taker permits and legal year-round nuisance trapping would remain in place.

Concerns about the proposed changes, though, led to a Feb. 18 announcement from the ODNR that the rule changes have been put on hold for now. ODNR plans engage with . . .

Continue reading Proposed Coyote Trapping Changes Put on Hold

What’s included in your calving book?

– Erika Lundy and Patrick Wall, Iowa State Extension Beef Specialists

Just one example of a pocket sized record book

As we gear up for calving season, now is a good time to consider what information we should be recording in our calving books. The key is not what we weigh, measure, collect, spray, or write down. It’s what we do with the information months later that really counts.

In addition to some key information such as calving date, calf sex, and birth weight, here may be some new columns to include in your calving book. Ultimately, accumulating this information should aid in making more informed decisions about the future of your cow herd.

Cow disposition score – Typically, this is recorded as a score of 1 to 6 with a 1 being maintaining a very docile demeanor whereas a 6 indicates a very aggressive temperament towards her calf, other animals, or people. While a cow’s score may vary the other 364 days a year, her disposition score on the day she calves when you need . . .

Continue reading What’s included in your calving book?

Beef Cattle Market Update

– Dr. Kenny Burdine, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Kentucky

After a very frustrating fall, the calf market is showing some signs of life. To start the new year, 550 lb steers calves traded $12 per cwt higher in January than they did in November (see figure 1). This is by no means a great market, but enough to create some optimism for spring. Excessive rains continue to create challenges across the board and the market seems to consistently discount green calves that are likely perceived as high risk placements in this type of weather. Heavy feeder cattle prices have pulled back some from fall, but that is a typical seasonal pattern and I expect their prices to improve through the year.

Figure 1. 550 lb Medium / Large Farm #1-2 Steers
KY Auction Prices ($ per cwt)

Source: USDA-AMS, Livestock Marketing Information Center, Author Calculations

Late January brought USDA’s annual cattle inventory estimates, which confirmed that the size of the beef cow herd was smaller to start 2020. The size of the decrease actually exceeded trade expectations, with beef cow numbers down a little over 1%. I think the primary driver of the decrease was high beef cow slaughter in 2019, which was up 5% for the year and over 14%f or the 4th quarter. Also not surprisingly, Continue reading

Check Cattle for Lice in Late Winter/Early Spring

Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator Wayne County

Chewing and sucking lice (Pest and Diseases Library Bugwood.org)

Check beef and dairy cattle for lice infestations during the late winter and early spring months.  Although lice can be present throughout the entire year, high numbers of lice are most likely during winter months when cattle have longer, thicker hair coats, which make self-grooming less effective in reducing lice numbers.  Hot summer temperatures, and for pasture-based production systems, direct exposure to sun, plus rain showers, all play a role in reducing lice numbers and offer further explanation of why heavy lice infestations are most often seen during winter months.

There are two type of lice that may infect cattle: sucking lice and biting lice.  It is possible to have both types of lice on any one animal.  Sucking lice are blood feeders while biting lice feed by scraping cells from the surface of the skin and the base of hairs.  Eggs, commonly called nits, are laid and glued as single eggs to hairs.  Although there is some variance between lice species, in general, eggs hatch in approximately two weeks into an immature life stage called a nymph.  Nymphs resemble adults except that they are smaller.  They go through three molts, shedding their skin each time until they reach full adult size in about three weeks. Within a few days of adulthood, females begin egg laying and generally lay one egg per day.  Adults typically live Continue reading

Posted in Health

Closed Coyote Trapping Season is Proposed, Nuisance Removal is Unchanged

– Tommy Springer, Wildlife Specialist, Fairfield County Soil and Water Conservation District

Under this proposal, farmers may still trap or kill coyotes year around if they are considered sick, injured or a nuisance to livestock.

When the Ohio Division of Wildlife released its proposed changes to the 2020-2021 hunting and trapping regulations, probably no proposal received more attention than the one to clarify the classification of coyotes as a furbearer and include them in the regulated trapping season along with other furbearers such as raccoon and fox (OAC 1501:31-15-09). Under current regulations, coyotes can be hunted and trapped year-round. This new proposal would only affect the trapping portion. Hunting will remain open all year with no bag limit.

As this proposal clears up the legal language that coyotes are considered furbearers, in addition to having an annual hunting license, this proposal requires hunters and trappers to also purchase the fur taker permit that is required to hunt or trap furbearers. Currently, hunters and trappers targeting coyotes are exempt from purchasing a fur taker permit. Remaining as in the past, landowners hunting or trapping coyotes on their own property are exempt from purchasing a hunting license or Continue reading

Emergency Calf Management after Dystocia (Difficult Birth)

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Figure 1: Meconium staining (yellow color) is an indicator of calf stress during delivery. Placing the calf on the sternum (as pictured) maximizes ventilation of the lungs.

“Dystocia” is defined as a difficult or prolonged calving, whether or not human assistance was necessary for delivery of the calf. Factors known to cause dystocia include a mismatch between small pelvic size of the dam and large calf size, abnormal calf presentation (for example, backwards or head turned back), and maternal factors such as weak labor, insufficient dilation of the cervix, or a uterine twist or torsion. Thin cows often experience prolonged labor and calves are born weak and slow to stand and nurse. Inappropriate timing of intervention or excessive force applied during delivery may cause additional stress and injury to an already weakened calf. Following dystocia, a calf is 6 times more likely to get sick than a calf born normally, with most deaths occurring within 96 hours of birth.

The key event in the transition from life inside the uterus to an independent existence is Continue reading

Weekly Livestock Comments for February 7, 2020

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

FED CATTLE: Fed cattle traded $1 lower compared to last week. Prices on a live basis were mainly $121 to $122 while dressed prices were mostly $193.

The 5-area weighted average prices thru Thursday were $120.83 live, down $1.24 compared to last week and $192.91 dressed, down $1.56 from a week ago. A year ago, prices were $124.02 live and $198.52 dressed.

Fed cattle trade was slow to develop this week as cattle feeders continue to be pressured by packers to accept lower prices. This is not unprecedented given the current supply of cattle on feed and the seasonal slowdown in beef movement. February is a tough month to push beef given the weather conditions and consumers eating habits. Thus, strong slaughter levels and soft demand have packers unwilling to bid up to secure cattle. This market pattern may persist a few more weeks. Despite a softer live cattle futures market than just a few weeks ago, the expectation remains for finished cattle to reach as high as Continue reading