Myth-Busting BVD Virus Eradication: Is it Possible?

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, Ruminant Extension Veterinarian

In Germany they proved BVD virus exposure can be quickly and substantially reduced.

“BVD” or “Bovine Viral Diarrhea” virus contributes to a wide range of reproductive, respiratory, and digestive system diseases in cattle. Although symptoms of the initial virus infection are typically mild such as fever and possibly off-feed for a day, there is much more going on than meets the eye. In calves, the BVD virus is immunosuppressive, predisposing infected calves to secondary bacterial infections particularly in the lungs, leading to significant sickness and death loss from bronchopneumonia in the stocker/backgrounder sector. In naïve, susceptible (non-vaccinated or poorly vaccinated) adult cows and heifers, infection with the BVD virus often goes completely unnoticed but ultimately results in reproductive failure, including infertility, early embryonic deaths, abortions, stillbirths, malformed calves, and weak newborns depending on Continue reading

Posted in Health

What to watch for with Asian longhorned ticks and Theileria in Ohio in 2024

Tim McDermott DVM, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

Visit, your guide to ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting pests. Photo: Anna Pasternak, UK entomology graduate student

One of the worrisome things about ticks in Ohio has been the increasing numbers of ticks of medical importance to humans, companion animals, and livestock as we have gone from one tick of medical importance twenty years ago to five now, including two new ticks in the past few years. While ticks have always been a problem in cattle, the invasive Asian longhorned (ALHT) tick that was first discovered in Ohio in 2020 has demonstrated the ability to not only vector, or transmit disease to cattle, but to cause mortality in cattle through high numbers of ticks feeding upon the animals. I first wrote about ALHT  in All About Grazing in July of 2020 with the article “The Threat of Asian longhorned tick continues” and then followed up with a March 2nd, 2023 article “Managing Asian longhorned ticks on pasture” so I want to provide an update on where we are in the state of Ohio with ALHT right now.

Where are we seeing ALHT in Ohio right now? As of the end of 2023, we had positively identified ALHT in 11 counties in Ohio including Franklin, Delaware, Ross, Gallia, Vinton, Jackson, Athens, Morgan, Monroe, Belmont, and Guernsey county. We anticipate finding more positive counties in Continue reading

Beware of Reducing Feed at Calving!

– Dr. Les Anderson, Beef Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky

Reducing the feed at calving causes problems!

I presented at a Master Cattlemen session recently and, after the meeting, got asked a common question about body condition and feeding cows at calving. His question was he had heard that he should reduce feed to his cows before calving to keep birthweights lower to reduce calving problems. He indicated that the BCS of his cows as they begin to calve was only 4. This is a frustrating question because it comes up often and nothing could be further from the truth.

Several researchers have addressed this issue over the last 20-30 years. Each of these experiments had cows that were fed to maintain weight, decrease weight, or increase weight right before calving began. The result of underfeeding cows before calving results in the exact problem the producer is trying to avoid. The research demonstrated that poor nutrition and low BCS precalving:

• Increased calving problems
• Decreased calf health (low colostrum consumption and poor-quality colostrum)
• Increased calf death loss
• Increased the number of days for females to resume estrous cycles.

One of the most extreme Continue reading

Avian Influenza Detected in Dairy Cattle

– Buckeye Dairy Network, CFAES, The Ohio State University


On Monday, March 25 th the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a statement confirming the identification of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in dairy cattle located in Texas and Kansas. They have suspected that HPAI may be a contributing factor in the unclassified illness affecting older, mid to late lactation dairy cattle in several herds in New Mexico, Texas, and Kansas over the past two months. It is not yet clear if all reports of the unclassified illness are caused by HPAI. The full press release from USDA can be found here.

The following are answers to common questions producers and the general public may . . .

Continue reading Avian Influenza Detected in Dairy Cattle

EDITOR’s NOTE: Yesterday, April 2, the Ohio Department of Agriculture confirmed a dairy herd in Ohio tested has positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza. Learn more in this article from Farm and Dairy.

Posted in Health

Revisiting grass tetany and magnesium deficiency

Clifton Martin, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Muskingum County

When the spring flush arrives lactating animals will be the most susceptible to grass tetany.

Managing agricultural field fertility through lime applications is a well-known practice with the goal of maximizing plant growth and productivity. One choice in the process is the decision to use calcitic lime or dolomitic lime as a source. Competing variables in the decision might be economics of short-term cost versus managing for a magnesium deficiency in the pasture. Generally, calcitic lime is cheaper to acquire and dolomitic lime is more expensive, but as we seek to manage a magnesium deficiency it may be advantageous to use dolomitic lime to deliver the needed nutrient to plants. This may be a consideration in a hedge to prevent grass tetany in a pasture. With spring just around the corner, it is a wonderful time to revisit the grass tetany challenge in forages.

What does the problem look like?

To get straight to the point, animal death is the outcome of a grass tetany problem if not properly treated. Grass tetany, also called hypomagnesemia, refers to blood magnesium concentration that is Continue reading

Winter is Here – What’s your Action Plan?

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

Figure 1: The UK Beef Cow Forage Supplement Tool homepage

Winter presents multiple challenges for cattle and those who care for them including cold temperatures, wind, snow, freezing rain, and mud. Unfortunately, drought conditions in the spring and summer significantly reduced the quality and quantity of hay available to feed this winter, exacerbating the difficult conditions. It is important for beef cattle producers to devise a “winter weather action plan” with the goal of maintaining cattle health, comfort, and performance despite what Mother Nature sends to KY. Many telephone conversations with veterinarians and producers confirm cattle are losing body condition this winter and some are dying of malnutrition. The cloudy, wet weather with regular bouts of rain and temperatures hovering right above freezing has resulted in muddy conditions that require diets substantially higher in energy just to maintain normal body temperature. At the UKVDL, we are beginning to see cattle cases presented to the laboratory for necropsy (an animal “autopsy”) with a total lack of fat stores and death is due to starvation. This indicates winter feeding programs on many farms this year are not adequate to support cattle in their environment, especially aged cattle, cows in late pregnancy or early lactation, or their newborn calves, even though bitter cold has not been much of a factor.

The “lower critical temperature” (LCT) is the threshold outside temperature below which the animal’s metabolic rate must increase to maintain a stable internal body temperature. If temperatures fall below the LCT, the amount of Continue reading

Posted in Health

Ensuring Healthy Herds: The Critical Role of Water Management for Livestock in Winter

Kate Hornyak, OSU Extension Program Coordinator, Delaware County (originally published on Ohio Farmer on-line)

A heavy equipment tire can be a large capacity water trough.

Water stands as an essential nutrient for beef cattle, much like it does for humans. It plays a vital role in various bodily functions, including growth, reproduction, lactation, and the regulation of body temperature. However, the winter season intensifies the challenge of providing a sufficient and accessible water supply. This difficulty is compounded by the freezing temperatures and changes in the behavior of the livestock during colder months.

Challenges in Winter Water Management

Managing water for livestock during the winter months presents distinct hurdles. The primary issue is the freezing of water sources, limiting cattle’s access to water. Cattle often increase their water consumption in colder weather to meet their heightened energy needs. This requires more focused management strategies to ensure they receive sufficient hydration.

In colder temperatures, cattle consume more feed to maintain body heat. If water availability decreases, feed intake also drops, leading to Continue reading

Buying Feeders? How “Histophilus somni” or “Somnus” is Changing the Game

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Most KY-born calves leave the farm and enter marketing channels, usually through auction markets, into stocker and backgrounding operations. Not surprisingly, late fall and winter are difficult seasons to keep feeder calves alive in KY due to major health challenges. Weather is just one of many risk factors that play a role in Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) or “Shipping Fever” development. Most auction market calves are sold as “high risk calves”, meaning they are lightweight (≤ 500#), young (estimated 6-8 months), unweaned (or abruptly weaned on the trailer on the way to the yards), unknown health history, never or poorly vaccinated and most are trace mineral (copper and selenium) deficient. At the auction barn, they are mixed or “commingled” with similar weight calves from multiple farms then sold, allowing respiratory “bugs” to spread prior to delivery to the stocker/backgrounder facility or feedlot. After arrival and a brief rest period, these calves are usually processed through the chute and receive multiple vaccines, deworming, are implanted and the bulls are castrated. These calves will typically break with respiratory disease within the first 2 weeks after arrival and require at least one antibiotic treatment. It is estimated that 60-70% of calves marketed through sale barns are considered at high risk for disease.

Over the last few years, the bacterium Histophilus somni (formerly known as Haemophilus somnus) has emerged as the major bacterial pathogen responsible for the rapid development of disease and death in feeder operations. While Mannheimia haemolytica, often referred to as “Pasteurella”, has traditionally been the most important bacterial species in “shipping fever” bronchopneumonia, Histophilus somni (HS) can cause similar disease symptoms but is proving very difficult to Continue reading

Nutritional Considerations Going into Calving

– Lawton Stewart, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, UGA

Nutritional requirements change with the stages of reproduction.

As we start 2024, many beef cattle producers are about to start the calving season. Across the state, forage availability is variable. Some places have seen severe drought in late summer/early fall, causing producers to feed more hay and deplete their winter hay supply. Many producers were able to put up plenty of hay. However, we have received several emails and phone calls dealing with hay quality being lower than expected this year. Entering the peak of hay feeding season, here are a few situations we are seeing, and the potential ramifications.

  1. I will restrict feed in the last trimester to decrease calf birth weights.
  2. I need more protein to go with my hay.
  3. There is a tendency to underestimate crude protein and overestimate energy.

I will restrict feed in the last trimester to decrease calf birth weights.
Is this correct? Absolutely! The problem is that is not the only thing it will affect. Recent research has focused on fetal programming. Fetal programming is the concept that maternal stimulus or insult during fetal development has long-term effects on the offspring. One of the most critical aspects of fetal programming involves adequate nutrition, or lack . . .

Continue reading Nutritional Considerations Going into Calving

How much vomitoxin is too much for feedlot cattle?

Jerad Jaborek, Michigan State University Extension

Fusarium graminearum is one of the most common species responsible for producing vomitoxin.

The weather Michigan experienced in 2023 was quite different from the norm and created an ideal environment for fungi that can produce mycotoxins. In the Thumb region, a lack of rain and drought was experienced during the early summer followed by plenty of rain during late summer months. Weather summary data collected from weather stations in Richville/Frankenmuth and Lapeer areas, reported an average temperature of 66 degrees Fahrenheit, average humidity of 75 to 78%, monthly rainfall of 4.5 to 5.9 inches, and 11 to 13 days of rain in the month of August. The weather conditions experienced were prime for fungal and mold growth during the silking stage of corn development.

Fusarium species of mold prefer temperatures of 69 F or less with a relative humidity over 70%. Fusarium graminearum being one of the most common species responsible for producing vomitoxin and responsible for gibberella ear and stalk rot of corn. Vomitoxin, also known as deoxynivalenol (DON) is a type B trichothecene (i.e., mycotoxin) that can occur in grains such as corn, wheat, barley, oats and rye, as well as others.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set advisory levels for DON concentration allowable in grains allowed for human food consumption or animal feed consumption. The FDA has set advisory levels at . . .

Continue reading How much vomitoxin is too much for feedlot cattle?