So Lush, So Green, And Oh So Poisonous

– Keith Johnson, Purdue Extension Forage Specialist

A yew bush used as landscaping is in need of a trim. Don’t feed the trimmings to livestock or death will occur. (Photo Credit: Keith Johnson)

It’s that time of year when the yew (pronounced like the letter “U”) is likely in need of a trim to look best as a landscaping plant. Yews have been used as a common landscaping shrub or small tree for decades. They have closely spaced, glossy, rather tough, dark green, linear pointed-end leaves that are 1.5 – 2 inches long.  Hard-to-see male and female flowers are found on separate plants and form fleshy red to yellow fruits that contain a single seed.

Many plants have poisonous compounds that can cause all kinds of concerns, and even death, if consumed. The interactions that I have had with veterinarians, suggest that the yew is right at or near the top of plants that cause livestock death. A disheartening scenario is when yew trimmings are thrown over the fence by the livestock owner or neighbor thinking that the trimmings would make a great snack for the livestock. Fresh or dry trimmings, it doesn’t matter. The result will be the same – death.

Yews are Continue reading

Posted in Health

Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me. Or my Cows!

Haley Zynda, AgNR Educator, OSU Extension Wayne County

Horn flies are considered the greatest pest of pastured cattle costing the U.S. beef industry about $700 million per year!

Farming in the winter is usually not a livestock producer’s favorite time of the year. But, if I must give it a positive aspect, the lack of flies and other flying pests make it somewhat enjoyable compared to when those same critters burst forth in full swing come summer.

Flies, mosquitoes, and biting gnats can cause a plethora of problems on the farm, including the spread of disease and causing undue stress to stock, leading to diminished performance. House flies are the benign, although annoying, fly species that you may encounter in confinement situations, such as freestall barns or covered feedlots compared to pastured animals. Sanitation is the main management strategy to keep them under control. Keep manure and old feed from remaining near animals too long. You may also choose to purchase a parasitic wasp kit for your region. These wasps feed upon the larvae of the flies, preventing the metamorphosis into adulthood. This strategy is to be done in conjunction with increased sanitation.

Biting flies are the major pests of cattle and can be split into Continue reading

FAQs about Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV) and Beef Cattle

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Lab

What is “BLV”? Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV) is an “oncogenic retrovirus” common in cattle throughout the United States. “Oncogenic” means the virus can cause the infected animal to develop cancer. A “Retrovirus” is a unique type of virus that uses an enzyme to reverse its genetic code from RNA into DNA which then gets inserted into the host cell’s DNA and remains there for life. A well-known retrovirus in humans is the human immunodeficiency virus or “HIV” that causes the disease “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome” or “AIDS”. Cattle infected with bovine leukemia virus have the disease known to veterinarians as “Enzootic Bovine Leukosis” or EBL, but it is most often referred to as “Leukosis”.

How common is BLV in beef cattle? Compared with dairy cattle, much less is known about BLV and beef cattle. A survey completed in 2019 of 28 cow-calf herds in the Midwest found at least one BLV-infected animal in 21 of those 28 herds and more than a third of the individual cows tested were positive. A similar study of bulls on 39 Midwest farms found nearly 50% of these operations had at least one positive bull and 45% of the 121 bulls tested were positive.

Why should BLV infection and leukosis be of concern when it is so common in cattle? Up until recently, the economic loss from leukosis was thought to be only due to death from cancer (lymphoma) or carcass condemnation at slaughter. However, like HIV in humans, now we understand the most important impact from BLV is disruption of the immune system that allows more diseases to occur, resulting in suboptimal performance and early culling. Because BLV indirectly allows other disease conditions to flourish, there has been delayed Continue reading

Posted in Health

Learn the Myths About Ticks to Keep Yourself Tick Safe

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

Myth #3: It’s common to believe that ticks such as this deer tick are only present during spring or summer.

I remember one day back when I was in private practice when a client brought in their dog for their examination and vaccinations and when he set his pup up on the examination table I noticed that the dog’s entire top half of his fur was slicked back.  When I asked about this the client stated that he noticed ticks on the dog, so he covered him with motor oil to drown them out. I have also had clients tell me they put cigarettes out on ticks to burn them off or use kerosene to drown them off.  Hopefully, they never use both of those “treatments” at the same time!

Veterinarians have a long history of dealing with the various pests that affect both companion animals and livestock.  Mosquitos, flies, fleas, lice, mites, and ticks have caused severe illness as well as major economic loss for over one hundred years of animal care history.  Over that time we have heard of some odd treatment protocols, homemade recipes, and unusual methods that are based more on myth than reality.  The reality is that ticks and tick-borne diseases are expanding rapidly in Ohio and we do not have Continue reading

Keep an Eye on that Bull

– Dr. Les Anderson, Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

Many producers with spring calving herds just turned out their bulls. In the May Off the Hoof, we reminded everyone to subject their herd bulls to a breeding soundness exam (BSE). A BSE is the best insurance we have available to ensure we don’t turn out a bull that is infertile or incapable of breeding cows. However, the BSE does not indicate if the bull is willing to breed cows. I was reminded of this very recently in the herd that I used for the “I bought a farm” YouTube video series. To get these heifers bred, we synchronized them for AI and then turned out a mature bull that had passed a BSE. When I inseminated these heifers, the weather turned very poor (middle of December) and the estrus response rate in the heifers was low, so I wasn’t expecting high conception rates to AI. Just to get an idea of how well we did, I spent some time in the pasture watching for return heats. As I expected, several heifers had return heats but what really stuck out was the bull was NOT breeding them. Some of the heifers were jumping on the bull and he seemed disinterested. I was concerned about the bull and told the owner that he needed to consider finding another bull. I could not assure him the bull was Continue reading

Poisonous Pasture Weeds and Livestock

Dwight Lingenfelter, Extension Associate, Weed Science, Penn State

Horsenettle in a pasture setting. (Source: D. Lingenfelter, Penn State Weed Science)

During drought and other poor environmental conditions that reduce forage growth, there are concerns for poisonous weeds in pastures and hay. Livestock may be forced to graze on weeds that normally they would not, or they may eat weeds out of curiosity. Scout your pastures and remove these weeds before they cause livestock health problems. Keep in mind there are numerous poisonous plants that could invade an area or pasture. Many plants contain potentially poisonous substances that may be toxic to livestock if consumed. In addition, certain plants may be problematic because of mechanical irritation when eaten, photosensitization, and disagreeable tastes or odors in meat, milk or milk products. If you suspect livestock poisoning, call your local extension educator or veterinarian immediately. If death occurs, the stomach contents should be examined for consumed herbage. Identify the suspected plants and remove livestock from the grazing area until all poisonous plants have been removed or destroyed. The table below lists . . .

Continue reading Poisonous Pasture Weeds and Livestock

Another toxic poisonous weed – Cressleaf groundsel

Dean Kreager, Licking County Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator

Cressleaf groundsel is included on Ohio’s noxious weed list due to its poisonous characteristics.

This weed has been showing up everywhere this spring.

The yellow flowers may be attractive but it is toxic to livestock especially if it is made in hay where the animals can’t eat around it.  Click on this link for a 12 minute video on managing this noxious weed: Managing Cressleaf groundsel in hayfields

Pasture Bloat Concerns and Responses

Last week in this publication we shared concerns for frothy bloat in pastured cattle. As a follow up, in this episode of Forage Focus, Host- Christine Gelley- Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County and Dr. Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist, dig deeper into the causes and possible solutions for frothy bloat occurrences in pastured livestock. Their discussion includes how pasture managers need to be observant of forage growth, weather conditions, and animal behavior to avoid conditions that commonly trigger bloat and to recognize and treat bloat quickly if it occurs.

Cow Nutrition and Implications for Reproductive Performance, Fetal Development, and Calf Performance

In beef cattle, the hierarchy for nutrient use of an individual animal is first body maintenance, followed by body development, growth, lactation, reproduction and then fattening. If a situation occurs where nutrients are limited, those items lowest within this hierarchy are the first to suffer. In this presentation, Dr. Francis L. Fluharty, Ohio State University Professor Emeritus in the Department of Animal Sciences and presently Department Head at the University of Georgia Animal and Dairy Science Department, details the implications for reproductive performance, fetal development, and calf performance if nutrients are inadequate.

Pasture (Frothy) Bloat; Beware when grazing legumes!

Stephen Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

Bloat has been described in agricultural writings since A.D. 60. Names for bloat have changed over the years: hoove, hoven, tympany, and blown have appeared in English journals of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Bloat occurs when rumen gas production exceeds the rate of gas elimination. The gas accumulates and causes distention of the rumen (left side of cattle). If the situation continues, the inflated rumen interferes with respiration. The problem is worsened by the absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the rumen. Death is normally due to suffocation.

Bloat is often associated with discontinuous grazing, such as the removal of animals from legumes pastures overnight. Pasture bloat may occur when grazing is interrupted by adverse weather, such as storms, or biting flies. Anything that alters normal grazing habits will increase the incidence of bloat. The following are a list of forages and their bloat potential:

Forage species and their potential for causing bloat in cattle Continue reading