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.

Ruminal Acidosis (Grain Overload)

Dr. Richard Bowen, Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University (Previously published online with Colorado State University, VIVO Pathophysiology)

The rumen encases a complex ecosystem containing numerous species of bacteria and protozoa that collectively provide the capacity for efficient fermentation of carbohydrates. Among the major products of such fermentation are volatile fatty acids and lactic acid. Wild ruminants and those raised on pasture consume a diet rich in grasses of one sort or another that consist mostly of cellulose. Cellulose is a molecule that might be called a “slowly fermentable carbohydrate”. In contrast, grains such as wheat, barley, and corn are considered “highly fermentable carbohydrates”, meaning that they can be very rapidly fermented to generate – you guessed it – large quantities of volatile fatty acids and lactic acid. Ruminal acidosis results from consumption of a unaccustomed quantity of highly fermentable carbohydrate, almost always well described as grain overload.

Ruminal acidosis is most commonly a disease of dairy and feedlot cattle, and occasionally sheep in feedlots. All of these animals are typically fed large quantities of grain, because such a diet promotes production of milk and enhances growth. The key point is that animals and their ruminal microbes must be adapted over time to a high grain diet, rather than being acutely changed to such feed, otherwise acidosis commonly ensues. In some cases, animals develop acute acidosis “accidentally”, when, for example, they escape from their pen and get into a store of grain.

 

 

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Grass Tetany/ Hypomagnesemia –Start Preventive Measures Now

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Lab; A special thanks to Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler for his contributions to this article.

What is “Grass Tetany” and when are cattle most likely to have it? Grass tetany, also known as spring tetany, grass staggers, wheat pasture poisoning, winter tetany or lactation tetany, is a condition resulting from a low level of magnesium (Mg) in the blood. Maintenance of blood magnesium depends on the amount obtained from the daily diet since the magnesium present in teeth and bones and is not easily mobilized in times of need. Magnesium is required for proper nerve and muscle function so low levels in the blood result in “tetanic spasms” where muscles contract uncontrollably. The disorder in an adult cow begins with separation from the herd and going off feed. The ears are often erect and twitching and the cow is alert, hyperexcitable and may be aggressive. The symptoms quickly progress to muscle spasms, convulsions, difficulty breathing, and death. Often the affected animal is found dead with evidence of thrashing and struggle on the ground around her. Deficiencies occur most often in beef cows when they are nursing a calf and grazing young, green grass in early spring. Fast-growing spring pastures are high in potassium (K+) and nitrogen (N+) and low in magnesium (Mg++) and sodium (Na+) ions. Affected cattle often have low blood calcium concurrently. Fall calving cows may also experience grass tetany during the winter months.

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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.

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TDA Alerts Livestock Producers to Possible Scam

See message below from the Tennessee Department of Ag.  Some Knox County Cattlemen have received these phone calls as well!

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) is warning livestock producers about a potential scam.

Several Tennessee cattle farmers have recently been contacted by a person or persons indicating they want to buy cattle. The supposed buyer reaches out via text, claiming that a cashier’s check will be sent as payment with money added for shipping, and that the seller should contact the buyer once the payment is received. If the seller indicates they won’t accept a cashier’s check, the conversation ends.

While a cashier’s check is a standard method of payment and typically safe to deposit, sellers should first contact the financial institution where the check is drawn to ensure its validity. There may be insufficient funds associated with the transaction, or the check itself may be counterfeit. To TDA’s knowledge, no Tennessee producers have fallen victim.

“Although at this time it appears that no crime has been committed, we want farmers to be cautious,” Agricultural Crime Unit Captain Greg Whitehead said. “This person appears to be targeting seedstock producers who advertised through reputable agriculture publications. Farmers have avoided being caught up in a possible scam because they’ve alerted each other, their local Extension office, and TDA.”

Good practices to prevent being scammed include researching the potential buyer online before agreeing to a transaction and resisting pressure to act immediately on a sale or purchase. Consumers should be wary of offers to pay over the purchase price, even if there seems to be a valid reason. This tactic is common in check cashing scams.

If you suspect a crime has been committed, please contact the Agricultural Crime Unit at 844-AG-CRIME (844-242-7463) or agriculture.crime@tn.gov.

The Process of Artificially Inseminating a Cow

– Clif Little, OSU Extension Guernsey County

What are some logical steps in utilizing artificial insemination (AI) on the farm?  We will assume cows and heifers are good candidates for a synchronization program.  However, months prior to AI implementation review the desired cow and heifer physiological condition and factors that influence response to AI.  As with any new venture, it is beneficial to first observe the AI process.  There are many steps to the process, and the timing and flow of work are of utmost importance to the success of AI.

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Natural Service vs Artificial Insemination

– Clif Little, OSU Extension Educator, Guernsey County

Originally posted in the BEEF Newsletter

Evaluating the cost of artificial insemination (AI) versus natural service in beef cattle is difficult since there are a great number of variables to consider.  A simple search of the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle online resources reveals the many different kinds of comparisons that have been done, (https://beefrepro.unl.edu/).  Each cattle producer will have a unique set of factors that weigh more heavily in their production system.   Producers will find comparisons of producing pregnancies utilizing various methods of artificial insemination and realizing costs versus value is important.  The obvious economic benefits of AI are: the uniformity of calves, concentration of work, shortened breeding and calving season, fewer bulls, improved genetic merit of the AI sired calves, and potentially more pounds of beef to sell annually.  Some factors relating to AI are not easily measured such as increased safety, fewer bull escapes, capturing the full genetic value of the AI sired calves, and improved working facilities.

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Processing Increase and Beef Values

– Josh Maples, Assistant Professor & Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University

The month-long rally in the Choice Boxed Beef Cutout Value (BBCV) peaked at $475.39 per cwt on May 12 last week according to the USDA National Daily Boxed Beef Cutout Report. By Friday, the BBCV was $434.32. This report includes daily negotiated prices and volume of boxed beef cuts delivered within 0-21 days using average industry cutting yields.

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