Let’s Talk about Lepto!

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

What is Leptospirosis or “Lepto”? Leptospirosis is a complicated bacterial disease commonly associated with abortions, stillbirths and drop in milk production in cattle. However, this bacterium also causes sickness and death in cattle, dogs, sheep and horses worldwide and is an important zoonotic disease affecting an estimated 1 million humans annually. Farmers and those working in meat processing facilities are at highest risk.

What causes leptospirosis? The disease is caused by a unique, highly coiled, Gram negative bacterium known as a “spirochete” belonging to the genus Leptospira. These “leptospires” are highly motile due to their spiral shape and, once inside a host animal, they enter the bloodstream and replicate in many different organs including the liver, kidney, spleen, reproductive tract, eyes and central nervous system. The immune system will produce antibodies that clear the organism from the blood and tissues except from the kidney. Leptospires take up residence primarily in the kidney and are excreted in the urine for months to even years after infection. Less frequently, leptospires persist in the male and female genital tract and mammary gland of females and may be excreted in semen, uterine discharges and milk.

How do cattle become infected with leptospires? Transmission of the organism is most often through direct contact with infected urine, placental fluids, semen or milk. However, transmission may also occur by Continue reading

Posted in Health

Beating the Heat – Tips for Dealing with Heat Stress

– Dr. Katie VanValin, Assistant Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

Heat stress is a problem that can affect cattle throughout the United States. However, in Kentucky and across the southeast cattle are at risk for experiencing more frequent and severe heat stress events than in other regions of the country. Heat stress occurs when cattle cannot dissipate or get rid of excess heat, and there are a multitude of factors that can impact how susceptible an individual animal is to heat stress. These factors include things such as breed, stage of production, age, and hair coat color which can make it difficult to predict an animal’s susceptibility to heat stress. Heat stress results in decreased growth and reproductive performance and in severe cases even death; thus, it is not a problem that should be overlooked.

Cattle can be particularly susceptible to heat stress compared to other species because they are unable to sweat effectively, which means they rely on respiration to try and dissipate heat. Thus, a common sign that cattle are experiencing heat stress is excessive panting and increased respiratory rate. Furthermore, the cattle GI tract features the rumen, a large fermentation vat. While the rumen is what allows cattle to take human inedible protein and convert it to human edible protein in the form of beef or milk, this process also generates heat that the animal must dissipate. It is thought that this might be partially responsible for the Continue reading

Aborting Heifers Bred by Mistake

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

I had to lean on the knowledge and expertise of Dr. Justin Rhinehart this week with a beef cattle reproduction question. My question to Dr. Rhinehart related to the most economical route to abort heifers because the neighbors bull visited this week.

The key to his response was mainly timing based on when the bull was removed and when I planned on marketing these heifers. For the sake of brevity, my alternatives were to determine pregnancy status of all the heifers exposed and then provide a prostaglandin shot to those found to be bred or to give all of the heifers a prostaglandin shot.

In simple terms, the prostaglandin shot needs to be administered between 10 days after the bull was removed and 30 days after his removal for the best results. The reason this is important is because pregnant heifers in the feedlot is bad for the feedlot and bad for the person who sold the animals. A bunch of bred heifers could tarnish a person’s reputation as a feeder cattle producer and it would all be for something that would cost about $5 per head.

Bunk Management; Impacts Animal Performance and Health

Feedbunk management plays an important role in both animal performance and preventing acidosis in the feedyard.

During the first session of the 2020 Ohio Beef Cattle Nutrition and Management School that was hosted by the OSU Extension Beef Team,  Dr. Francis Fluharty, Ohio State University Professor Emeritus and current Professor and Head of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science at The University of Georgia, focused a portion of his presentation on the significant impact that proper feed bunk management has on feed conversion, prevention of acidosis, and overall profitability. Here, in less than 8 minutes, Dr. Fluharty explains why bunk management is so important, nearly doubling the rate of gain and improving feed conversion by greater than 40% in one study.

Recordings in their entirety of the Beef School proceedings may be found under the link 2020 Ohio Beef School

Poison Hemlock is Blooming

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension

Control with a broadleaf killer like 2,4-D doesn’t eliminate ALL the competition for next generation hemlock plants.

Poison hemlock is up and actively growing right this minute. It is already prevalent on roadsides in Noble County. If you stand next to poison hemlock it will feel like you are in that scene from “Alice in Wonderland” where the flowers are giant, and she is tiny. It looks like Queen Anne’s Lace, but much larger. It blooms earlier and it is has distinct purple spots on the stem.

All parts of the poison hemlock plant are poisonous to people and livestock, wet or dry. This can be an extremely concerning weed in hay fields. You won’t have to look hard to find it. If you come across it in bloom, you can mow it down to prevent seed production, but it will come back to haunt you later. A similar look alike is wild parsnip, which is in the same family, causes additional concerns for skin rash, and has yellow flowers. We have yet to see giant hogweed in Noble County, but it is another look alike that can be found in other parts of Ohio with similar concerns.

Control on poison hemlock is most effective when the plants are Continue reading

Planning Your Calf Vaccination Program, via Zoom

Carri Jagger and the Morrow County OSU Extension office have invited you to attend a ‘virtual program’ on May 13 entitled, Planning Your Calf Vaccination Program. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., Alissa Wilhelm, DVM, will cover the vaccinations that calves should be receiving to ensure a healthy start to life. Dr. Wilhelm is an Assistant Professor for the Department of Veterinary Preventative Medicine with OSU Large Animal Services.

You may join the Zoom meeting at: https://osu.zoom.us/j/92030949184

For more information contact Carri Jagger at 419-947-1070 or see this flyer.

What’s in your Baleage? – Inadequate fermentation may lead to Botulism

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Botulism is a disease caused by one of the most potent toxins known to man. This toxin is produced by Clostridium botulinum, a Gram-positive bacterium from the Clostridia family. This bacterium survives in the environment as a “spore” and contaminates plant material during harvest. For the bacteria to multiply and produce toxin, an anaerobic (“without oxygen”) environment must be maintained. Under certain conditions, round bale silage (or “baleage”) can provide the correct place for botulism toxin to form. In the absence of oxygen (as is found in wrapped hay) and a pH greater than 4.5 (poor fermentation), the spores enter a vegetative state, multiply and produce toxin. This toxin, once consumed and absorbed into the blood stream, blocks transmission of nerve impulses to the adjacent muscles. Two forms of the toxin, Types B and C, occur most frequently in KY cattle. Type B is associated with improperly fermented forage while Type C occurs from the accidental feeding of dead birds, dogs, cats or poultry litter contaminated with dead Continue reading

Three Good Reasons for Early Castration of Bull Calves

– Kevin Laurent – Beef Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky

These are challenging times market wise and it is easy to dwell on the negative and become complacent in our management. But in times like these we really need to explore every avenue to add value to our calves. If you watch the weekly market reports, you notice that we still have a significant number of intact bull calves being sold. Some producers choose to leave bulls intact until weaning to increase weaning weights. Bulls will be 5-15% heavier at weaning. However, chasing pounds in this manner comes at a discount. Following are three good reasons to castrate bull calves early in life.

1. It’s the right thing to do. Research trials have shown time and time again that the earlier calves are castrated the better. Early castration is associated with less pain, stress and trauma. In fact, research has shown that calves castrated from 1-7 days old showed very few Continue reading

“Don’t buy the cheapest mineral out there”

The mineral content of forages is always a concern when feeding the brood cow, but it’s of even greater concern after wet weather and rapid forage growth like that which was experienced the past two springs and early summers. In this 4 minute excerpt from the 2020 Ohio Beef Cow/Calf Workshop, Dr. Francis Fluharty explains the benefits, and also his concerns for feeding the cow herd highly digestible minerals in the appropriate amounts.