Internal Parasites, When to Deworm Calves, Should You Deworm Cows?

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3:14 General thoughts on internal parasites

8:15 When to deworm calves

20:05 Should you deworm cows?

Special Guests: Jeba Chelladurai and Brian Herrin, Parasitology at K-State College of Veterinary Medicine

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter at @The_BCIFacebook, and Instagram at @ksubci. Check out our website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu. You can also email us to sign up for our weekly news blast! Don’t forget if you enjoy the show, please go give us a rating!

Climate-neutral Beef: What does it mean for the producer?

Recently, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association committed the U.S. beef industry to be climate neutral by 2040, but what does that really mean, how are we going to get there, and what does it mean for the individual producer? Climate neutral is different than carbon neutral in that carbon neutral indicates that carbon emissions are equal to carbon sequestration whereas climate neutral indicates no net global warming effect. Beef cattle most probably can never be carbon neutral due to the biogenic carbon cycle (Figure 1) because it would require carbon sequestration to be as great as the carbon synthesis in plants every year. However, beef cattle can be climate neutral because carbon/methane emissions are part of the biogenic carbon cycle rather than a permanent addition to the atmosphere. If methane emissions and photosynthesis are in equilibrium then there is no net global warming.

Aren’t we already in equilibrium? Short answer is no. It takes a decade or more of static cattle numbers and methane emissions before the cycle is in equilibrium, and beef production results in other gases, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, that increase global warming. Over the last 30 to 40 years, the beef industry has reduced the carbon emissions intensity (carbon per unit of beef) primarily through increased efficiency (lesser inputs per unit of beef) and diluting maintenance requirements of the cow herd with heavier, faster growing calves. U.S. beef industry is the most efficient production system in the world, but we are maximizing growth and size, and so future reduction in global warming potential will need to come through reductions in total carbon emissions per animal.

What does this mean for the rancher? The reduction in carbon emissions and global warming potential will come from application of several management practices and technologies. For example, improved grazing management and use of cover crops will increase soil carbon sequestration, but also improve soil health and forage/crop productivity. Many new feed additives are being developed to reduce methane emissions, some with potential to increase feed efficiency. Genetic tools will allow selection of animals to reduce maintenance energy requirements, and genetically engineer will produce animals resistant to disease. These practices and technologies and many others will be available to ranchers to reduce carbon emissions and global warming potential, but importantly these practices and technologies will improve economics of beef production. Achieving the climate neutrality goal will be challenging, but will spur many new advancements that will make beef production better for the rancher, consumer and environment.

Figure 1. Illustration of the biogenic carbon cycle of all ruminant animals including cattle. Credit to University of California-Davis CLEAR Center.

Weaning Prep, Listener Question, Transition Diet pt. 2

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

2:06 Weaning prep: improving calf performance

9:53 Listener question: estrus synch

17:18 Transition diet part 2 ft. Dr. Twig Marston

Special Guest: Twig Marston- Hubbard Feeds, Division of Alltech

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter at @The_BCIFacebook, and Instagram at @ksubci. Check out our website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu. You can also email us to sign up for our weekly news blast! Don’t forget if you enjoy the show, please go give us a rating!

Measuring Cow Herd Efficiency, Role of Research in Cow-Calf Operations, Transition Diets during Weaning

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

4:30 How to measure efficiency in your cow herd?

12:20 Career perspectives: role of research in commercial cow-calf operations

19:28 Post-weaning calf management: transition diets

Special Guest: Twig Marston- Hubbard Feeds, Division of Alltech

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter at @The_BCIFacebook, and Instagram at @ksubci. Check out our website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu. You can also email us to sign up for our weekly news blast! Don’t forget if you enjoy the show, please go give us a rating!

Monitoring Winter Body Condition

Cows in moderate body condition (BCS 5 to 6) usually require an average of about 55 to 65 days to resume fertile cycles after calving – meaning that mature cows that calve during the first 35 days of the calving season in moderate body condition should be cycling during the first 21 days of the next breeding season starts. In contrast, cows that calve with a BCS of less than 5 require more days to resume fertile cycles, and have very little chance of having fertile cycles by the start of the next breeding season – possibly not until late in the next breeding season.

Good body condition at calving is even more important for the reproductive performance of young cows that are nursing their first calves compared to mature cows because first-lactation cows often require 80 to 100 days to resume fertile cycles after calving. First-calf cows must have a BCS of 5 or greater (preferably 6) to have acceptable pregnancy rates for their second breeding season. In order to reach or maintain a BCS of 6 for first-lactation cows, they should be separated from the mature cowherd and fed to gain the needed weight.

During the winter months, most cattle in the U.S. are consuming dormant or baled forage. In most situations, the forage is poor to moderate in quality. When cattle graze marginal to low quality forages, supplemental protein or energy is often required to enhance either forage intake or animal performance. Poor quality forages (grazed or hay) have two negative effects on cow diets – the first effect is lower intake. While a 1250 pound cow will consume about 31 pounds (as fed) of moderate to good quality forage, she will only consume about 24 pounds of poor quality forage. The second negative effect is that the amount of energy per pound of intake is reduced compared to higher quality forage.

Because of year-to-year variation in forage quality and weather stress, cow body weight and condition can have important year-to-year variation even when fed what appears to be the same diet. Slightly lower forage quality and increased weather stress can result in cows losing more weight than expected. If cows lose condition over the winter so that that they enter the spring-calving season with a poor body condition, calf health and cow reproductive efficiency will be negatively affected.

In general, mature cows in good body condition that are not nursing a calf and that only need to maintain weight can over-winter on forage alone if forage quality is at least moderate and weather stress is low. If cows in good body condition are forced to consume lower-quality forage or if winter weather is harsh, supplemental high quality forage or concentrate will be required to maintain body weight. If cows are thin and need to gain body weight prior to calving, moderate quality forage will not supply the needed nutrients, and supplemental concentrate or high quality forage must be fed. If only poor quality forage is available, even greater levels of supplement must be fed to add body condition to thin cows prior to calving.

Young cows carrying their first pregnancy require energy and protein for their own growth as well as fetal growth, which makes their nutrient requirements higher than those of adult cows. Most dormant or baled forages do not provide all the calories needed for first-pregnancy cows over the winter, especially if the cattle face any weather stress. Ranchers should plan on providing young cows with supplemental high-quality forage or concentrate for at least part of the winter. The amount of supplement required depends on the quality of the base forage (grazed or baled).

In order to determine the amount of supplement required for the available forage, you need to be able to estimate how much energy reserve the cows’ are storing as body fat. Body condition scores (BCS) are used to describe the relative fatness or body fat reserves of a beef cow. The most commonly used system uses a range of 1 to 9, with a score of 1 representing a very thin cow and 9 representing an extremely fat animal.

Body condition scores are an accurate measure of body fat and are convenient in that cattle do not need to be weighed, merely observed and palpated at a time when other procedures are performed. Depending on mature cow size, there is approximately 80 to over 100 lbs. difference in body weight per BCS. When evaluating body condition, it is important to handle the cattle, so that one is not mistakenly evaluating hair coat, gut fill, or stage of pregnancy. The areas to palpate when determining BCS are: ribs, back, backbone, and tailhead. The entire herd, or a subset of each age group, should be evaluated for BCS during the winter to allow adjustments in winter supplementation to occur before cows lose excessive body weight.

It is very difficult for cows to gain body weight on dormant forage once they have calved and started lactating – even if heavily fed. Therefore, cows should reach their desired breeding body condition by the time they calve. In order to have enough days for thin cows to gain weight, herds should be evaluated 3 to 4 months prior to calving. If evaluated at this time, the weight gain for a BCS 3 cow to reach breeding condition (BCS 5) will be approximately 1.5 to 2.0 pounds per day (which is very possible with good forage and supplementation). In contrast, if cows only have 2 months to gain 2 body condition scores, they will need to gain over 3 pounds daily – a much more challenging task.

Is It Actually Pinkeye, Acidosis and Semen Production, Grazing Management Plans, Carbon Credits

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

3:13 Is it just pinkeye?

8:10 Acidosis and semen production in young bulls

15:52 Grazing management plans

20:41 Carbon credits

Video talked about in the beginning of the podcast!

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter at @The_BCIFacebook, and Instagram at @ksubci. Check out our website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu. You can also email us to sign up for our weekly news blast! Don’t forget if you enjoy the show, please go give us a rating!