When is the best time to castrate bull calves?

– W. Mark Hilton, DVM, PAS, DABVP (beef cattle), Clinical Professor Emeritus, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine

A Kansas State University study showed that bulls castrated and implanted at an average of 3 months of age weighed 2 pounds more at 7.5 months of age than did the intact bull calves in the same study. At 7.5 months, the bulls were castrated, and then both groups were weighed 28 days later to assess gain.

The steers castrated as calves gained 48 pounds, while the bulls that were cut at an average of 578 pounds only gained 33 pounds. That is a lost potential gain of 15 pounds, as these late-castrated bulls had to deal with the stress of healing from surgery.

The fallacy is that there is a positive “testosterone effect” that justifies not castrating until bulls weigh 500 pounds or more. This is a myth. When bull calves were Continue reading

This Winter Has Been Tough on Cows!

Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Agriculture Educator, Monroe County

To add on too the great nutrition article in last week’s newsletter, I want to mention a resource available for producers to help monitor their cow’s body condition score. An Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet may be found at https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/anr-54.

Dr. Boyles, last week, gave us all the nuts and bolts for providing the necessary energy and protein to fulfill the cow’s nutritional needs. However, we should also monitor our livestock’s body condition scores to insure the feed being provided coincides with what we see in our livestock’s physical appearance.

Timid animals may not always get enough nutrients even though we are providing them. Our calculations could be wrong also. We hear about so many 1000-1200 pound cows, but there are very few of them at my place. Of my mature cows, more will tip the scale over Continue reading

Winter Feeding Beef Cows

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

The goal is to have a winter feeding program meets the cow’s requirements and is economical. There is a biological priority for nutrients.  The needs for maintenance, growth and milk production must be met before we can optimize reproduction.

The period from approximately 60 to 90 days prior to calving is affects the calf and the subsequent reproductive performance. Fetal growth is at its maximum and fat stores will be used for lactation.  Nutrition during this time also affect colostrums quality. Underfeeding during this time period include:

  1. Lighter calf birth weights (although calving difficulty won’t be reduced).
  2. Lower calf survival.
  3. Lower milk production and calf growth.
  4. A longer period for cattle coming back into heat.

Cold Temperatures:  The only adjustment in cow rations necessitated by weather is to increase maintenance energy. Protein, mineral and vitamin requirements are not Continue reading

Pulling a calf? Here’s the best way

– W. Mark Hilton, DVM, PAS, DABVP (beef cattle), Clinical Professor Emeritus, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine

One of my passions in veterinary medicine, besides beef production medicine, is teaching veterinarians and producers an easier way to deliver calves. I always start off my dystocia talks with the numbers 15 and 3. If you have to assist more than 15% of your heifers and 3% of your adult cows, you have a problem that needs attention and it’s most likely your genetics.

That being said, anyone who calves out heifers will likely have to assist one every so often. The Utrecht technique that I learned about 30 years ago from Bob Mortimer at Colorado State University is the easiest way to deliver a calf, in my opinion. It’s easy on the human, the cow and the calf.

The keys to success are Continue reading

The Winter of Mud: Consequences of the Wettest Year on Record

– Michelle Arnold, DVM, Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL

Record rainfall in 2018 has had major impacts on cattle health in KY. Despite relatively mild temperatures this winter, submissions at the UKVDL and telephone conversations with veterinarians and producers confirm cattle are losing body condition and some are dying of malnutrition. The very prolonged cloudy, wet weather with regular bouts of rain has resulted in muddy conditions that require substantially more energy in feeds just to maintain body heat. In addition, the hay quality is exceptionally poor this year as much of it was cut very ripe (late stage of maturity), rained on while curing, and baled with enough moisture to support mold growth. Many cows presented to the laboratory for necropsy (an animal “autopsy”) revealed a total absence of fat and few, if any, other problems. This indicates winter feeding programs on many farms this year are not adequate to support cattle, especially cows in late pregnancy or early lactation, or their newborn calves, even though bitter cold has not been a factor.

The body of the animal has several defenses against cold. The first is the hair coat which grows longer in winter and offers considerable help in conserving heat and repelling cold. Under winter conditions, if an animal’s coat cover is wet and muddy, then energy requirements for maintenance can easily double, particularly if the animal is not protected from the wind. Energy from intake of hay that is adequate for maintenance in normal years is falling far short of the requirement this year. Cold conditions are not too difficult for cattle but when rain and wind are added, heat loss is multiplied several times by the effects of conduction and evaporation. Under these circumstances the “wind chill factor” referred to by the weatherman has real meaning to Continue reading

Beef AG NEWS Today, the January Podcast; Cow Stress, and Addressing the Nutritional Concerns

In this month’s podcast of Beef AG NEWS Today, show host Duane Rigsby visits with OSU Extension Beef Coordinator John Grimes about the weather related stress cows have been under, and addressing the resulting nutritional concerns. That conversation evolves into a preview of the 2019 Ohio Beef School being hosted in several Ohio counties on February 5.

Forage Focus: Rabies in Livestock and Companion Animals

In this Forage Focus podcast, host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County, talks with Franklin County ANR Educator Tim McDermott about the risks associated with rabies in livestock and companion animals.

Many diseases can affect animals on pasture. The most difficult ones to stay aware of are the diseases that are uncommon, where the producer or livestock may never encounter the disease. Many diseases that affect livestock have presentation forms that can mimic multiple other diseases that are more common, leading to a delay in veterinary care or producer awareness. One disease that can affect livestock that fits this description, but should stay firmly in a producer’s awareness, is rabies.

Posted in Health

Moldy Feed and the Potential Effects on Cattle

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

Record-setting rainfall in 2018 has resulted in moldy hay and feed throughout the Commonwealth. Many questions regarding the safety of these feedstuffs and how to test them have come to the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UKVDL) as producers begin to feed these moldy products. While mycotoxins (mold poisons) are the main concern, molds themselves can adversely affect health and productivity of cattle. Ingestion of moldy feed or hay can potentially cause mycotic (fungal) abortion, respiratory effects, decreased feed consumption and rate of gain, and digestive problems. Additionally, molds can have effects on humans that handle the moldy feed. A wide variety of mycotoxins, not all of which can be tested for, can be produced in moldy feeds and hay under the right conditions, and ingestion of sufficient amounts of various mycotoxins can result in a large array of clinical effects. Testing is recommended but proper sample collection is crucial as samples must be representative of the whole field, cutting or batch. Although there is no foolproof approach to avoiding health effects, a practical approach involves testing suspect feeds in the ration, avoiding moldy feed if possible, and dilute with clean feed to minimize effects.

The presence of considerable mold in hay is a fairly common occurrence but when is too much mold a problem? Several laboratories have the ability to run mold spore counts (reported in mold spore count per gram) to help quantify the extent of mold present. Recommendations from Penn State Extension (https://extension.psu.edu/mold-and-mycotoxin-problems-in-livestock-feeding) regarding feed risks with various mold counts are presented in Table 1. Generally, moldy hay is Continue reading

Managing in Mud

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Trudging through mud that’s only dew claw deep can reduce animal performance by as much as 7%

As most of Ohio quickly approaches the record for the wettest year in history, cattlemen continue to deal with the ramifications caused when it gets wet in February, stays wet throughout the spring, and summer, and continues wet into winter. The result is more than just a forage quality issue . . . it results in MUD! Whatever happened to the adage, “One extreme follows another.” We’ve certainly got to be due for a stretch of “extremely dry!”

While mud is, at best, an inconvenience when it comes to managing most any aspect of a farm – especially a beef cattle farm – it also can easily evolve into a livestock health and nutrition issue. In an article on Feedlot Mud Management that OSU Extension Specialist Steve Boyles published here a few years ago he suggests that Continue reading

Rabies in Livestock

Timothy McDermott DVM, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County (originally published in Farm & Dairy)

Many diseases can affect animals on pasture. The most difficult ones to stay aware of are the diseases that are uncommon, where the producer or livestock may never encounter the disease. Many diseases that affect livestock have presentation forms that can mimic multiple other diseases that are more common, leading to a delay in veterinary care or producer awareness. One disease that can affect livestock that fits this description, but should stay firmly in a producer’s awareness is rabies.

Rabies is an ancient disease caused by a virus. The Latin translation of rabies means, “To rave or rage”. The virus spreads in its host in an unusual way compared to how most people think of viral spread. While many viruses spread through the bloodstream, enter via the respiratory tract or digestive tract by ingestion, rabies is a neurotropic virus, meaning it spread along the nerves in the nervous system. After an infected host bites an animal or human, the virus enters the wound via Continue reading

Posted in Health