Avoid Forage Toxicities After Frosts

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

As cold weather approaches this week, livestock owners need to keep in mind the few forage species that can be extremely toxic soon after a frost. Several species contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues. 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.

Species with prussic acid poisoning potential

Forage species that can contain prussic acid are listed below in decreasing order of risk of toxicity after a frost Continue reading

The Effect of Cow Udder Score on Calf Performance

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

Nebraska research shows hot carcass weights were lighter from bad uddered cows.

Scientists at the University of Nebraska (J. Beard, J. Musgrave, R. Funston and J. Mulliniks) used 812 cows and their udder scores to evaluate calf performance. Udders scores were recorded from a 1 (bad) to 5 (good) as reported in the Integrated Resource Management Guide (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association). They then separated the data into 2 groups of Bad Udders (1 and 2 scores) and Good Udders (3 or greater scores). There were 233 cows with Bad Udders and 1,742 cows with Good udders.

There was not a difference in Continue reading

Use Your Eyes and Records to Decide Which Cows to Cull

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

Bad hooves or claws are an example of structural problems that adversely affect performance.

Which cows in your herd are consistently making you money? Every year, the cow-calf producer needs to critically evaluate each animal in the herd and decide if she is paying her upkeep. Open cows (those that are not pregnant) at the end of breeding season obviously are high on the cull list. With variable costs running $400-$500 per year per head and an additional $100-$300 in fixed costs, keeping open cows is difficult to justify financially. Beyond pregnancy status, what other variables are important to evaluate? Structural soundness, body condition score, age, annual performance, and disposition are significant factors to consider when developing a culling order specifically for your farm. This culling order is essentially a ranking of the cow traits you consider most important for a cow to be productive on your farming operation. Culling is exceptionally important during times of Continue reading

Fall Plant Control of cressleaf groundsel; Prevent the sea of yellow in the spring

– Dr. Diane Gerken, DVM, ABVT Veterinary Toxicologist

ODA’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab has been involved in two separate cases with animals affected by the toxicity of this plant in the past year.

This plant is Senecio glabellus or now called Packera glabella which occurs in some uncultivated Ohio fields. This is a picture indicating possible plant density in the springtime. If you made hay/haylage with this plant in it, the recommendation is to NOT feed it to livestock or horses. Also, do not use as pasture for any grazing animal.

ODA-ADDL personnel have been involved in two separate cases (one with classic pathology and the second with a positive chemical analyses for the specific pyrrolizidine alkaloids in this plant) with animals affected in the past year. This plant contains at least one toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloid (PA), senecionine but reported to contain more. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids cause liver disease in humans and animals after Continue reading

Forage Focus: Is it a Weed, or Wildflower?

This month on the Forage Focus podcast, host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County, talks about Weeds versus Wildflowers. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and many have differing opinions on what is actually a “weed” and what is a “wildflower.” Christine shares examples pointing out differences between being weeds and wildflowers.

Is That Tree or Shrub Poisonous? What You Don’t Want Your Cattle to Eat (Part II)

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL) and a special thanks to JD Green, PhD (Extension Professor (Weed Scientist), UK Plant and Soil Sciences Department)

Poisonous trees and shrubs are responsible for considerable losses in livestock although producers are often somewhat familiar with their potential for harm. Wilted wild cherry tree leaves, hedge trimmings from Japanese Yew (Taxus species), acorns and buckeyes are common causes of illness and death in Kentucky cattle every year. The potential for poisoning depends on the availability, type and quantity of the toxin within the leaves, seeds and sometimes the bark of the tree or shrub. A majority of the time, cattle will not consume them unless pasture is limited due to drought or overgrazing or they are baled up in hay. However, if cattle have access to hedge trimmings carelessly thrown over a fence or a cherry tree loses a limb during a thunderstorm, cattle may quickly eat enough to result in death despite having plenty of pasture available. Usually large quantities are required to cause problems (as is the case with buckeyes) but some plants, such as Japanese Yew, are deadly with just a few mouthfuls. Plant (tree, shrub or weed) poisoning should be considered a possibility in cattle on pasture with a sudden onset of unexplained symptoms such as diarrhea, salivation or slobbering, muscle weakness, trembling, incoordination, staggering, collapse, severe difficulty breathing or Continue reading

Assemble a Calf Crop Resilient to the Challenges of Disease

Justin Kieffer, DVM, Clinical Veterinarian, Assistant Professor, Office of the Attending Veterinarian and Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

Completing a number of management techniques and vaccine protocols prior to the stress of weaning, comingling and transport will help assemble a calf crop more resilient to disease challenges.

Now that calving is completed, the days are longer, and the grass is growing (hopefully), it is time to start preparing for the weaning and eventual sale or feedlot finishing of your

calf crop and development of your replacement females. Once the cow calf pairs have been kicked out to pasture in the spring, there is a tendency to put off or ignore the steps needed not only to set the feedlot calf up for success, but also to lay the groundwork for proper health for your new heifers.

Management techniques such as castration and dehorning should take place as soon as possible. Waiting too long to remove the testicles, either by banding or cutting, increases the risk of bleeding and infection, and knocks the calf off feed for an extended period of time. The smaller the calf, the less attached they are to their testicles. Removal of Continue reading

Is That Weed Poisonous? What You Don’t Want Your Cattle to Eat (Part I)

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL) and a special thanks to JD Green, PhD (Extension Professor (Weed Scientist), UK Plant and Soil Sciences Department)

Poisonous plants are responsible for considerable losses in livestock although many cases go unrecognized and undiagnosed due to a lack of knowledge of which plants could be responsible and the wide range of symptoms that may result from consumption. The potential for poisoning depends on the availability and quantity of the toxic weed, the stage or maturity of plant growth, weather, and season of the year. Most weeds have an undesirable taste and cattle will not consume them unless they are baled up in hay or pasture is limited due to drought or overgrazing. However, if cattle have access to areas where toxic weeds predominate and little else to consume, the potential exists to eat enough of one particular plant to result in illness or death. Usually large quantities are required to cause problems but some are deadly with just a few mouthfuls. Plant poisoning should be considered a possibility in cattle on pasture with a sudden onset of unexplained symptoms such as diarrhea, salivation or slobbering, muscle weakness, trembling, incoordination, staggering, collapse, severe difficulty breathing or rapid death. Oftentimes plant poisonings only affect a few cattle in the herd and severity of symptoms primarily depends on Continue reading

Heat Stress in Feedlot Cattle

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist (This article derived from: Kevin F. Sullivan and Terry L. Mader. June 2018. Managing heat stress episodes in confined cattle. Vet Clin Food Anim 34: 325–339 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749072018300161)

Feedlot cattle consuming large amounts of feed and gaining rapidly generate significant amounts of metabolic heat begin to challenge and animals ability to handle heat stress. An animal can endure high ambient temperatures if heat gain during the daytime hours is balanced with heat loss during the nighttime hours. If nighttime ambient temperatures remain high, especially if the relative humidity is also high, there is no time for recovery.

Assessing Heat Stress in Feedlot Cattle

The ability to predict a heat stress event allows for preparation and mitigation of the effects on animal well-being and animal performance. Temperature-Humidity Indexes have been used for more than 40 years to assess heat stress in cattle. There are also Heat Load Indexes for cattle. Such indexes exits in Continue reading

Water; Vital to Beating Summer Heat

– Aerica Bjurstrom, UW-Extension Kewaunee County

Water is the most important nutrient an animal requires and consumes daily. Depending on weight, production stage, and environmental temperature, cattle require varying amounts of water. A University of Georgia publication suggests for cattle in 90 °F temperatures, a growing animal or a lactating cow needs two gallons of water per 100 pounds of body weight. A nonlactating cow or bull needs one gallon of water per 100 pounds of body weight. Using these figures, a single cow/calf pair can require roughly 25 to 40 gallons of water daily. A nursing calf with have a portion of its daily water needs from its dam’s milk. Providing multiple water sources or tanks in the pasture will increase consumption and decrease competition and fighting at the water tank.

Water quality is just as important as water volume intake. Compromised quality can reduce water intake, which can lead to illness and metabolic issues. Testing water for salinity, nitrates, and sulfates is recommended. Cattle prefer water that contains small amounts of salt, however, water that contains high amounts of total dissolved salts (TDS) can result in reduced performance. Guidelines suggest that water containing Continue reading