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

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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

Keep the Trains Moving; Prevent Stomach Obstructions

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension (originally published in the Ohio Farmer)

This hairball came from a beef that was processed in Noble County by Pernell Saling. He estimates 5% of the cattle they process have blockage in the rumen resulting from twine, hair, plastic, etc..

The stomach is a fascinating part of the body, regardless of what species you study.

Digestion is an active and noisy process, from chewing, to swallowing, to breakdown, absorption, and disposal. People tend to associate the idea of a “churning stomach” with an illness, but really, the stomach should be churning (well, moving) to do its job. If it is not, you could be in trouble and experiencing a bowl obstruction.

Humans can tell that something is definitely wrong if they have a bowl obstruction. Within a couple days, the inflicted person will be completely miserable and perplexed, leading them to seek aide from a medical doctor if this occurs. Symptoms include bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and general physical weakness as a result.

Babies and animals are less descriptive when experiencing digestive stress. Observant parents (of human or animal offspring) may not know what is wrong, but should be in tuned enough to realize the situation is not good and seek assistance before symptoms of malnutrition or abdominal tissue death occurs.

Unfortunately, due to the Continue reading

Cattle Saliva, More Than Just Spit

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Ruminants secret enormous quantities of saliva from eight types of glands. The secretions are serous (watery), mucus or mixed. The mixed secretions are weakly buffered while the others are strongly buffered with bicarbonate and phosphate. Saliva moistens and lubricates food and assists in masticating (chewing) and swallowing. Saliva contributes more than 70% of the water and most of the salts to the rumen. It assists in stabilizing rumen pH and provides sources of nitrogenous and mineral nutrients for the microorganisms.

Saliva is secreted as different rates during resting, eating or rumination. As the water content of the feed increases, the amount of saliva decreases. Generally feeds that increase salivation during eating increase salivation during resting and rumination. Feeds that do not induce large quantities of saliva to be secreted are those with either low dry matter content (lush pasture) or those eaten rapidly such as ground or pelleted hay or grain concentrate. The slowest rates of secretion occur after feeding ceases and then gradually increases reaching its highest rate before the next feeding.

The principal organic constituents of saliva are Continue reading

Be Aware of Late-Season Potential Forage Toxicities

Even alfalfa can accumulate toxic levels under severe drought stress!

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Livestock owners feeding forage need to keep in mind potential for some forage toxicity issues late this season. Nitrate and prussic acid poisoning potential associated with drought stress or frost are the main concerns to be aware of, and these are primarily an issue with annual forages and several weed species, but nitrates can be an issue even in perennial forages when they are drought stressed. 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.

Nitrate Toxicity

Drought stressed forages can accumulate toxic levels of nitrates. This can occur in many different forage species, including both annuals and perennials. In particular to Ohio this year, corn, oat and other small grains, sudangrass, and sorghum sudangrass, and many weed species including johnson grass can accumulate toxic levels of nitrates. Even alfalfa can accumulate toxic levels under . . .

Continue reading Be Aware of Late-Season Potential Forage Toxicities

Feedbunk Management; Key to Animal Health and Performance

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist (originally published in The Ohio Farmer)

A properly managed bunk impacts profitability of the feedyard!

Feedbunk management plays an important role in both animal performance and preventing acidosis in the feedyard.

A part of feedbunk management is estimating how much feed cattle will eat. Factors such as cattle size, weight, breed, ration-type, weather and health must be taken into account. Previous history of feed intake for a pen of cattle can help in estimations.

How much work do you want to put into gaining an estimate of how your steer or a group of cattle are eating? Estimates can be made prior to a morning feeding, if you are providing a morning feeding, with two additional observations made during the day. A common method is Continue reading

Frequently Asked Questions about Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in Farm Ponds used to Water Livestock

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

Water is the most essential nutrient in the diet of cattle and during hot and dry weather, it is especially important to monitor water quality if using farm ponds for livestock. What is a “harmful algae bloom” or “HAB”?

During periods of hot and dry weather, rapid growth of algae to extreme numbers may result in a “bloom”, which is a build-up of algae that creates a green, blue-green, white, or brown coloring on the surface of the water, like a floating layer of paint (see Figure 1). Blooms are designated “harmful” because some algal species produce toxins (poisons) when stressed or when they die. The majority of HABs are caused by blue-green algae, a type of bacteria called “cyanobacteria” that exist naturally in water and wet environments. These microorganisms prefer warm, stagnant, nutrient-rich water and are found most often in ponds, lakes, and slow moving creeks. Farm ponds contaminated with fertilizer run-off, septic tank overflow or direct manure and urine contamination are prime places for algae to thrive. Although blooms can occur at any time of year, they happen most often in the warmer months between June and September when temperatures reach 75 degrees or higher and ponds begin to stagnate. HABs can reduce water quality and intake, but more importantly, they can be deadly when ingested by livestock. Windy conditions can push algal blooms along water edges, increasing the risk for Continue reading

Adding Value to Your Feeder Calves This Fall

Garth Ruff, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension, Henry County

A recent CattleFax survey indicates that calves weaned for 45 days return almost $100/head more.

As summer slips past us yet again and with fall rapidly approaching it is time to discuss how to maximize the value of feeder calves that will be hitting the market in late September and October. If you have been following the cattle futures both fed cattle and feeders have been on a roller coaster here as of late. With that in mind there are some things we can do management wise to capitalize on this year’s calf crop.

Weaning. Across the industry, feeder cattle sold in the fall tend to fit within one of three categories: 1) balling (zero days weaned) calves 2) calves weaned less than 45 days, and 3) calves weaned for at least 45 days. When we look at adding value, weaning calves for at least 45 days netted the highest average sale price of $916 per head, according to the annual Cow-Calf Survey conducted by Cattlefax. In the same survey calves weaned for 28 to 45 days averaged $836/head and calves shipped off the cow were valued at $829/head. The lowest value calves on average were those Continue reading

Johne’s Disease and Detection in Beef Cattle – Part II, Recommended Herd Testing for Johne’s Disease

– Michelle Arnold, DVM, MPH UK Ruminant Extension Veterinarian

Johne’s (pronounced Yo-knees) Disease is a chronic, fatal disease characterized by profuse, watery diarrhea and weight loss or “wasting” in adult cattle (see Figure 1). Although it is a disease of mature animals, the infection most often begins when newborn calves nurse manure-covered teats contaminated with the bacterium Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, commonly referred to as “MAP”. The major problem with MAP infection in cattle is that the disease remains hidden because diarrhea and weight loss do not develop until 2-7 years after infection. However, the infected animal will release or “shed” the bacteria during this “silent phase”, contaminating the environment and allowing more calves to become infected. (For more information about Johne’s Disease, see last week’s article: Johne’s Disease and Detection in Beef Cattle – Part I, Frequently Asked Questions). Control of the disease is based on three basic steps: 1) identify and cull MAP-infected cattle; 2) prevent exposure of young, susceptible calves to the bacteria; and 3) prevent Continue reading

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