Assessing Calf Death Losses in a Beef-Dairy Crossbreeding Program

Dr. Gustavo M. Schuenemann, Professor and Extension Veterinarian, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Ohio State University

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Many dairy herds are implementing a beef-dairy crossbreeding program for all or a portion of their lactating cows in order to add value to newborn calves. In beef cattle, there is a moderate to high correlation between heritability of growth traits and their genetic correlations with birth weight (e.g., yearling body weight has a heritability of 58% and a correlation with birth weight of 0.61). Although there are several considerations such as market for beef-dairy cross calves, replacement heifers needed, and calf death losses due to dystocia and the subsequent survival and performance of lactating cows, the potential for added value by implementing a beef-dairy crossbreeding program must not neglect the potential to increase calving difficulty due to increased birth weights.

A case study using data from a beef-dairy crossbreeding program was developed to illustrate a systematic approach to assess calf death losses. The case study was developed for educational purposes; and the information may or may not be applicable to other situations. The overall objective was to assess calf death losses at calving for a 12-month period (March 2020 to March 2021). Therefore, the patterns of calf death losses were . . .

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Posted in Health

Be Mindful of Heat Stress to Maintain Stocker Calf Gains

– Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, University of Kentucky, Department of Animal & Food Sciences

Continued drought conditions will continue to limit forage growth in some regions.

As I am writing this, bluegrass has flowered, and I’ve seen fescue plants with flowers emerging. This spring has been a bit cool slowing grass growth, but warmer temperatures will certainly begin to kick grass growth into high gear within the next couple of weeks. Precipitation and soil moisture continues to be a struggle in the western half the United States as shown in the Monthly Drought Outlook figure from the National Drought Monitoring website. These continued drought conditions will continue to limit forage growth in these regions.

Forage availability is a key driver of stocker calf performance followed by forage quality. As we move through the spring months and begin to see temperatures increase, forage growth slows. Previous research demonstrates that the photosynthesis of plants is negatively impacted by increasing temperatures. Photosynthetic rates of tall fescue can be reduced when temperatures reach 86F/77F degrees Fahrenheit, day/night. Areas in Kentucky had eight days in May during 2021 that had daytime high temperatures of 86 or higher. Several days in June, July and August are normally going to be 86 F or warmer. These warmer temperatures slow forage growth of our perennial cool-season forages. More importantly, research has demonstrated that Continue reading

Assessing trace mineral status in ruminants, and factors that affect measurements of trace mineral status

– J.W. Spears, V.L.N. Brandao J. Heldt, June 2022. Applied Animal Science (summarized by Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist)

Summary of Article

When assessing mineral status, it is always good to analyze the diet or forages being consumed for the mineral of interest as well as other minerals that may affect its requirement. Liver is the best indicator of both low and excess Cu status. Plasma Cu concentrations do not decrease below normal values until liver Cu stores are mostly depleted, but a plasma Cu concentration less than 0.4 mg/L suggests Cu deficiency. Severe Zn deficiency can be diagnosed based on extremely low plasma or serum Zn concentrations (less than 0.5 mg/L) or on clinical signs of Zn deficiency that respond to Zn supplementation. It is important to note that infections or acute stress may cause plasma Zn concentrations to temporarily decrease to levels consistent with Zn deficiency. There is currently no reliable indicator of marginal Zn deficiency. Several criteria have been measured in an attempt to assess Mn status. However, no criteria have been demonstrated to accurately predict Mn deprivation. Whole blood or liver Se concentrations are useful in assessing Se status. When interpreting whole blood or liver Se concentrations, it is important to consider whether dietary Se is being derived from organic or inorganic sources.

Conclusions and Applications

The most appropriate measurement criteria to assess trace mineral status in ruminants depend on Continue reading

Do tannins have a place in beef production?

– Andrea Osorio-Doblado and Darren D. Henry, UGA Animal and Dairy Science Department – Tifton, GA

Tannins can be perceived as “antinutritional factors” in ruminant diets, however, when provided in low to medium concentrations tannins can positively influence animal performance.

Tannins can be perceived as “antinutritional factors” in ruminant diets. Indeed, they are; however, when they are provided from low to medium concentrations (< 50 g/kg DM) tannins can improve utilization of feed protein without impairing feed intake or carbohydrate digestibility and there is a potential to also decrease enteric methane emissions from livestock. Tannins can increase the quantity of dietary protein, especially essential amino acids, flowing to the small intestine. This is of high value because protein is usually the most expensive component in ruminant diets.

Tannins as a mitigation strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Numerous scientists have reported enteric methane production being decreased with the use of tannins. For example, methane production per unit of dry matter was decreased by 17% in dairy cattle fed Lotus corniculatus, which is a legume known for its tannin content, when compared to ryegrass. In addition, this same group observed that cows consuming the Lotus corniculatus produced one-third more milk compared with cows consuming …

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Kill Poison Hemlock Now

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

Poison hemlock is a concern in public right of ways, on the farm, and in the landscape!

Poison hemlock has already emerged in a vegetative state around Noble County and beyond. Soon it will be bolting and blooming on stalks 6-10 feet tall. All parts of the plant are toxic to all classes of livestock if consumed and is prevalent along roadsides, ditches, and crop field borders. It is a biennial weed that does not flower in the first year of growth but flowers in the second year. The earlier you can address poison hemlock with mowing and/or herbicide application, the better your control methods will be.

Poison hemlock is related to Queen Anne’s lace, but is much larger and taller, emerges earlier, and has purple spots on the stems. Another relative that is poisonous is wild parsnip, which looks similar to poison hemlock, but has yellow flowers. Giant hogweed is another relative of poison hemlock that is also toxic. All of these plants have umbel shaped clusters of flowers.

According to Joe Boggs of OSU Extension, “Poison hemlock plants contain highly toxic Continue reading

Grass Tetany – A Complicated Disorder with An Easy Prevention

– Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Extension Professor University of Kentucky and Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Classic “grass tetany” is a rapidly progressing and potentially fatal disorder caused by low magnesium level in the blood, also known as “hypomagnesemia”. It is usually seen in older, lactating beef cows when grazing young, succulent grass in early spring, particularly during cool and rainy weather. Other common names for this disorder, including spring tetany, grass staggers, wheat pasture poisoning, and lactation tetany, reflect the season of the year, symptoms seen, types of forage, or physiology of the animals most often involved.

Magnesium is an essential mineral as its presence is vital for many enzymes of major metabolic pathways, in normal nerve conduction and muscle contraction, and in bone mineral formation. Approximately 60-70% of total magnesium in the body is bound up in the bones. Grass tetany occurs when the magnesium (Mg) level in blood decreases rapidly, resulting in less than adequate Mg reaching the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Without Mg present in spinal fluid, there is uncontrolled activation of the nerves supplying muscles throughout the body. This causes constant overstimulation and Continue reading

Posted in Health

The Core Vaccines every Ohio beef cow should be receiving

Many health challenges on the farm can be avoided with a proper herd health management program. During the third session of the 2022 Virtual Beef School held on Monday, March 21st Dr. Justin Kieffer, Clinical Veterinarian for the Department of Animal Sciences at OSU, offered a beef herd health management update.

More specifically, Dr. Kieffer spent a few minutes that evening sharing the core vaccines he believes every Ohio beef cow should receive. Embedded below Dr. Kieffer shares that list of five vaccines.

To view Dr. Kieffer’s herd health presentation from the 21st in its entirety, visit this YouTube link: https://youtu.be/rrxabT5ksiI

Posted in Health

Pinkeye in Beef Cattle; a look at the frustration it causes, and prevention and treatment options

Many health challenges on the farm can be avoided with a proper herd health management program. During the third session of the 2022 Virtual Beef School held on Monday, March 21st Dr. Justin Kieffer, Clinical Veterinarian for the Department of Animal Sciences at OSU, offered a beef herd health management update.

More specifically, Dr. Kieffer spent a few minutes that evening discussing the challenges of managing pinkeye in a beef herd. Embedded below is what Dr. Kieffer had to say about the frustrations of dealing with pinkeye and the prevention and treatment protocols he suggests.

To view Dr. Kieffer’s herd health presentation from the 21st in its entirety, visit this YouTube link: https://youtu.be/rrxabT5ksiI

The Cheapest Mineral Isn’t Really Cheap

– Francis L. Fluharty, Ph.D., Professor and Head, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences – University of Georgia

The major nutritional requirements are: water, energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins. In many cases, beef producers do a good job of providing adequate water, energy, and protein. However, many beef producers buy ‘cheap’ minerals, ignoring the fact that the availability of the minerals in the oxide form in many of these mixes are only 10 to 20% as absorbable by the animal in the sulfate, chloride, organic, or chelated forms (when minerals are metals bound to an organic compound such as an amino acid in zinc methionine or organic selenium in selenomethionine; Spears, 2003) in more expensive mineral mixes. The advantage of more available forms of minerals are seen when stress increases. Consider the fact that weather can be a stress, whether it’s extreme heat or cold, and that working cattle at breeding, vaccination, and weaning can be stressors. So, why do so many producers buy minerals that don’t provide the best nutrition to the animal when they need it most, and buy the cheapest mineral instead? In many cases, it’s because we think in terms of tons rather than days, and a ton of mineral seems expensive relative to a ton of hay, but not when you consider that a ton of mineral with an anticipated intake of 4 oz per day will provide feed for 8,000 animal days. I can’t imagine a beef producer going to their truck dealership and asking for the truck with the least power when it’s under a load, or asking for the truck with the weakest transmission, but we do this same thing when we buy minerals with the poorest absorption during times of stress, then we buy additional hay, or grain, or treat sick newborn calves, or blame the . . .

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A vaccination strategy for newborns, and calves under 4 months of age

Many health challenges on the farm can be avoided with a proper herd health management program. During the third session of the 2022 Virtual Beef School held on Monday, March 21st Dr. Justin Kieffer, Clinical Veterinarian for the Department of Animal Sciences at OSU, offered a beef herd health management update.

More specifically, Dr. Kieffer spent a few minutes that evening discussing vaccination and health protocols for newborn and young calves. Embedded below is what Dr. Kieffer had to say about the health management of calves from birth through four months of age.

To view Dr. Kieffer’s herd health presentation from the 21st in its entirety, visit this YouTube link: https://youtu.be/rrxabT5ksiI