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

Posted in Health

Johne’s Disease and Detection in Beef Cattle – Part I, Frequently Asked Questions

– Michelle Arnold, DVM, MPH UK Ruminant Extension Veterinarian

What is Johne’s Disease? Johne’s (pronounced Yo-knees) Disease is a chronic disease of profuse, watery diarrhea and weight loss or “wasting” in adult cattle (Figure 1) caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, commonly referred to as “MAP”. This is a slow, progressive disease that begins when calves (not adult cattle) are infected with the MAP bacteria, most often around the time of birth but infection can occur up to 6 months of age and very rarely after. Once MAP gains entry into a calf, the organism lives permanently within the cells of the large intestine where it multiplies and causes the intestinal lining to slowly thicken. With time, the thickened intestine loses the ability to absorb nutrients, resulting in watery diarrhea. There is no blood or mucus in the feces and no straining. The clinical signs of diarrhea and extreme weight loss in spite of having a good appetite, do not show up until 2-5 years of age or even older. There is no treatment available and the animal eventually Continue reading

Posted in Health

Weaner Cattle Need Their Own Trainer

– Kirsten Nickles MSc and Anthony Parker PhD, The Ohio State University Department of Animal Sciences

The addition of a social facilitator cow seems to reduce the negative walking behaviors associated with weaning.

The most common weaning method in the United States beef industry is the abrupt removal of calves from cows at 5-8 months of age (Enríquez et al., 2011). Natural weaning in beef cattle however, occurs later in life for a calf at 7-14 months of age (Reinhardt and Reinhardt, 1981). The immediate cessation of milk supply and complete maternal separation causes calves to exhibit stereotypical behaviors such as walking and vocalizing at weaning. Calves will engage in these stereotypical behaviors for three to four days and the excessive activity and lack of feed intake result in body weight loss and fatigue (Weary et al., 2008). The anxiety and frustration experienced at weaning by the calf are critical factors that negatively affect the growth rate of the calf and can contribute to the onset of disease such as bovine respiratory disease. This is why we should aim to manage calves in a way that reduces these negative stereotypical weaning behaviors.

The use of a “trainer cow” or “social facilitator” has been proposed as a method to Continue reading

Do Not Let a Tick Bite Make You Allergic to Dinner

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

The Lone Star Tick, a tick species that entered Ohio over the last decade, has become known for causing an allergic syndrome in people called Mammalian Muscle Allergy.

Livestock producers have had a lot on their plates lately. The weather including constant rain has damaged pasture as well as made timely hay making difficult. While I do not want to add to this list of worries, I want to make sure to educate producers that there is a new-ish tick concern that can dramatically affect the lifestyle of a producer of swine, cattle and small ruminants. Over the last decade we have seen an increase both in the spread of new tick species into our region as well as new diseases and allergic syndromes that can be vectored to producers from these invasive species. Lyme disease was seldomly diagnosed over ten years ago and has now become commonplace with the spread of the Black Legged (Deer) Tick. Viral diseases vectored to humans that had not been found before outside of Asia are now being diagnosed with increasing regularity in the United States. Today we are going to discuss an allergic syndrome that a producer can develop after getting bitten by a fairly new to the Midwest tick invader.

The Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum) is a tick species that Continue reading

Posted in Health