Treatment Protocols

In many food animal production systems, treatment protocols are an important component of maintaining herd health.  A treatment protocol is the veterinarian’s instruction for disease management and can be developed within the context of a veterinary-client-patient relationship.  A well-designed treatment protocol should include: 

  • Case definition  
    • Signs / symptoms that indicate the animal has met the requirements for receiving treatment 
  • Drug regimen – administration instructions that specify: 
    • The drug 
    • Dose to be administered 
    • Route of drug administration 
    • Site of drug administration (drug label or BQA guidelines) 
    • Maximum volume of drug administered per injection site 
    • Needle size 
    • Frequency of administration (examples: single injection or every 12 hrs) 
    • Treatment duration 
  • Treatment success / failure criteria 
    • Indicators that the animal requires additional treatment 
  • Secondary / additional treatments 
    • Drug regimen details as above 
  • Instructions for disposition of treated animals 
    • Withdrawal time for meat (and milk if used in lactating dairy cows) 
    • Salvage slaughter vs. euthanasia for treatment failures 

The treatment protocol should be agreed upon by farm personnel and the veterinarian.  By sticking to the protocol, it ensures the best treatment outcomes and allows for evaluation of treatment effectiveness.  While a change in protocol may be necessary in rare cases, this should only be done after consultation with your veterinarian. 

Purebred vs. Crossbred, Pharmaceutical Updates, Farm Incomes

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2:27 Maintenance – Purebred vs. Crossbred  

11:38 Pharmaceutical Updates

17:15 Farm Incomes Dropping?

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!

5 Areas of Risk, Pre-Weaning Mortality, PRF Insurance

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2:44 5 Areas of Risk  

9:34 Pre-Weaning Mortality 

14:40 Pasture Rangeland and Forage (PRF) Insurance

Guest: Ross Bronson, Redd Summit Advisors, Ag Risk Consultant

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Managing Fall Calving Cows is Different than Spring Calving Cows, Especially During Drought

September is calving season for many fall-calving herds. Nutritional management of fall-calving cows is a little different than spring-calving herds throughout the production cycle. Peak energy, measured as total digestible nutrients (TDN), and protein requirements occur early in lactation at about 1 to 3 months after calving (Figure 1). For spring-calving cows, the calving season is typically aligned with peak energy and protein requirements occurring at the time pastures green up such that the young tender grass with high protein and digestibility can meet those nutrient requirements. For fall-calving cows, the ability of pasture to meet peak energy and protein requirements is highly dependent upon the forage species. Cool-season forages such as fescue regrow in the fall when temperatures begin to cool down providing highly nutritious grass to meet the requirements of the cow during this time. However, warm-season forages are slowing growth as temperatures decline and becoming dormant having much lower nutritive value and less ability to meet the nutrient requirement of cows in early lactation. But, stockpiled bermudagrass or native grass with protein supplementation can effectively meet the nutrient requirements of fall-calving cows. And planting cool-season annual forages can easily meet the nutrient requirements of lactating beef cows, and can even be used as a supplement to warm-season pasture by limiting the time cows graze the annuals each day. 

Fall-calving cows have a couple of advantages. One advantage is the climate which is typically dry and cool, which does not increase maintenance requirements like cold and wet conditions in the spring. The second advantage is that fall-calving cows came through the summer grazing months without a nursing calf and are usually in very good body condition; 6 or better. Greater body condition at calving allows these cows to lose some condition without detrimental effects on reproductive performance. The breeding season for fall-calving cows is usually late November through December such that cows are pregnant before bad winter weather. Pregnant cows are unlikely to lose a pregnancy due to poor body condition, which allows fall-calving cows to lose some condition through the winter. This works financially because cows will be able to regain lost condition inexpensively on pasture next summer. It is not advisable to let spring-calving cows lose condition through the winter leading up to calving as it is not economically feasible to regain condition between calving and breeding seasons.  

A possible disadvantage of fall-calving cows is that some feeds available in the fall of the year may not be suitable. As displayed in Figure 1, the energy requirement is much greater than the protein requirement and is expensive to provide because of the tonnage necessary. Thus, feedstuffs with lower digestibility may not be good options. For example, corn stalks can readily meet the nutrient requirements of spring calving cows after weaning, but may not work for fall-calving cows except for a few weeks early on when cows are consuming leaves, husks, and down ears. Other feeds such as ammoniated wheat-straw will require significant energy supplementation to meet energy requirements of cows in lactation and high levels of ammonia intake may have negative effects on reproductive performance. 

Fall-calving cows can be especially challenging in a drought. Forage production was less than usually so cows are thinner than usual at calving and do not have the surplus fat to lose condition through early lactation and breeding. Additionally, alternative forages such as crop residue or wheat straw will require substantial supplemental grains and byproducts to meet nutrient requirements. Meeting nutrient requirements during the time between calving and breeding is critical if cows are only in moderate body condition because the loss in pregnancy rate will impact the ranch for several years to come. Planting cool-season annuals is an option, but requires fall rains to get the crop established, and if not established early in the fall, forage growth will be too little for winter grazing.  

Plan on feeding a considerable amount of supplement to fall-calving cows during fall and winter in drought years. Conventional feedstuffs are likely to be expensive as demand is high and supply may be low. Look for alternative feeds such as failed crops, spent grains from local breweries, fruit and vegetable waste from local supermarkets, etc. Any untapped waste stream that provides rumen-digestible, safe feedstuff that is less expensive per unit of energy (TDN) will be advantageous during drought. 

Equipment

Beef cattle producers typically own several different types of animal health equipment. A few important considerations are: obtaining good quality equipment, focusing on cleanliness, and making sure that all equipment is well-maintained.  Some common animal health equipment likely to be found on many ranches includes: portable squeeze chutes and handling facilities, scales to collect body weight, warming crates for calves born in cold conditions, AI (artificial insemination) supplies, calving chains and calf jacks for use in cases of calving difficulty, ear tag pliers, tattoo pliers, castration and dehorning tools, and syringes and needles. 

While it is important to search for value when purchasing animal health equipment, equipment that breaks easily or that won’t reliably perform its function is never a bargain no matter what the purchase price. If high-priced equipment is needed only rarely, finding a source that can lease it on an as-needed basis may be preferable to purchasing. Buying needed supplies and equipment from local sources has the advantages of convenience and knowing who will stand behind the equipment they sell. Online suppliers and large outlets have the advantage of a large inventory and wide selection. The best source for your equipment needs will depend on your geographic area and your priorities.  

Keeping equipment clean is almost always good advice, but cleanliness for animal health equipment is especially important. Many types of equipment will come with manufacturers’ recommendations for cleaning and it is always important to follow these directions. In general, washing with hot water, soap, and appropriate brushes or other utensils is usually a good place to start. For some animal health equipment, it is recommended to use a disinfectant to remove germs once the item is clean of all dirt and other debris. It is important to recognize that disinfectants wont’ work in the presence of dirt, manure, or blood so a good cleaning is always the first step. Because cleaning and disinfecting detergents can easily destroy the ability of vaccines to work effectively, thoroughly cleaning reusable syringes followed by boiling them in water will kill any germs on the equipment without leaving a residue that can harm vaccines. Needles should not be cleaned and re-used – instead use disposable needles.  Always clean syringes between uses; it is important to not use a syringe for one product followed by another product without a thorough cleaning in between uses.  

Previously used needles should never be used to withdraw vaccine from the bottle. This should only be done with a brand new needle to prevent contaminating the contents of the bottle. For rehydrating the freeze-dried portion of a modified live vaccine with the provided liquid, ideally, a double-sided transfer needle should be used. If a transfer needle is not available, you should use a new needle and syringe.  

There are diseases of cattle that can be spread by very small amounts of blood – even the trace of blood left on tattoo pliers, tagging instruments, castrating knives, and injection needles. To help prevent the spread of anaplasmosis and bovine leukosis, instruments that contact blood should be rinsed or wiped off between uses to remove all traces of blood.  

Maintenance and service instructions provided with new equipment should be followed to ensure that your equipment is ready to use when you need it. All equipment should be examined closely for signs of wear or problems than you can address, and to recognize when you need to send equipment to an expert for repair. Some equipment needs routine lubrication or sharpening and having all the materials you need to keep you equipment in good working order is important. For items that may break during routine use, having at least one back-up is probably a good idea.  

Cleaning and maintaining animal health equipment are important considerations when implementing BQA (Beef Quality Assurance) on your cattle operation. This includes proper care and use of syringes and needles to prevent injection site problems, keeping animal handling equipment in good working condition to prevent bruising or injury, and having clean, reliable equipment for use when assisting difficult births or dealing with other health emergencies to ensure good animal care and welfare.  

Animal health equipment is one of many considerations when providing good care for your cattle. Taking a little time to consider what equipment you need, how you will keep it clean, and the best methods to make sure it is well-maintained will serve you well as you go about the daily tasks of caring for your herd.  

Fall Forage, Small Packing Plants, Cows Fitting their Environment

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2:46 Options for Fall Forage 

9:40 Small Packing Plants 

16:18 Cows Fitting Their Environment  

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Inflation, Syringe Management, Weaning

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2:02 Beef Producers and Inflation  

7:43 Syringe Management 

15:36 Weaning  

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Higher Input Prices, Body Condition Score, Needle Sizes

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2:02 Higher Input Prices

8:09 Body Condition Score on Cows

19:23 What Size Needle Should I Use?  

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Liver Abscesses, Stockpiling Forages, Recording Keeping

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1:20 Liver Abscesses: Why Should They Matter to Me?

9:20 Stockpiling Forages: How to Manage

16:00 Recording Keeping on Health Procedures  

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Preconditioning Economics, Vaccine Labels, Labor Shortages

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2:44 Preconditioning Economics

9:45 What Does Your Vaccine Label Mean?

14:30 Labor Shortages: How to Manage

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Plan for Backgrounding Weaned Calves

As we move into late summer and early fall, we begin think about weaning time. Weaning can be a stressful event and there are some techniques such as fence line weaning to reduce that stress, but the focus of our discussion today is feeding those weaned calves. Stressed calves and calves that are not used to a feed bunk do not readily consume feed. Getting those calves on feed is critical requiring a good diet and proper feed management. A starter diet should include feeds that calves are familiar with such as hay and highly palatable feeds such as dried distiller’s grains. Feeds such as corn silage are great for growing cattle but can turn calves off from eating because it has a different smell and taste. Silage can be incorporated slowly after calves are eating well. Feed needs to be delivered in a manner that encourages feed intake. A good way to do this is to provide feed in an open bunk perpendicular to the fence line. An open bunk does not require calves to put their head into or through a stanchion that might hinder feed consumption. Placing the bunk perpendicular to the fence line requires bawling calves to walk into the bunk when pacing the fence. 

One important consideration for backgrounding calves is to assess feed resources. Home grown forages and grains are typically used, but purchased feeds can also be used. An assessment of the quantity and quality of feeds needs to be completed to know whether enough feeds are available for the entire length of the backgrounding period and to formulate diet to meet the production goals. Feeding calves to achieve the correct weight at the correct time is critical for marketing and profitability. There are a couple of methods to formulating diets for backgrounding calves. One method is to formulate a diet with greater than 50% forage which is fed to appetite. This method requires less management and equipment. This method can be implemented with a predetermined amount of grain feed in bunk and free-choice hay, but may have better results as a totally mixed ration fed in a bunk. The second method is to formulate a diet with less than 50% forage which is fed in limited amounts. The advantage of this method is that high energy feeds, which are typically less expensive on a per unit of energy basis, are used reducing the cost of gain. However, this method requires more intensive management in that diet formulation needs to be more precise and correct feeding management in the form of bunk space and accurate feed delivery. Implementation of the limit-feeding method necessitates the use of a totally mixed ration and feed mixing equipment. 

Backgrounding fall-weaned calves instead of selling calves at weaning can have a couple of drawbacks that can be overcome with time. Calves will likely lose weight during the first few days after weaning due to stress and reduced feed intake. Getting calves to regain the lost weight will have a high cost of gain requiring a backgrounding period long enough to reduce the overall cost of gain. Additionally, as the fall run of calves gets into full swing, the price of calves will decrease requiring calves to gain enough weight to more than offset the reduced price. Thus, deciding on the proper market time and weight are necessary to profit from backgrounding, which will influence the diet and feeding program necessary to meet those goals. 

Drought Related Plant Issues, Heart Disease Research, Liver Biopsies

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2:37 Drought Related Plant Issues

12:16 Heart Disease Research
Read More on Blaine’s Research Here

18:48 Liver Biopsies: What Do They Tell You?

Guests: Blaine Johnson, DVM and PhD Student 
Steve Ensley, Clinical Veterinary Toxicologist  

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Family Farms and Production, Early Weaning, Pre-Weaning Pneumonia

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1:58 Family Farms and Production

7:08 Early Weaning Pros and Cons

14:49 Pre-Weaning Pneumonia

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Cattle Lameness

Lameness in cows, bulls, and replacement heifers is a common problem confronting cattlemen. In most situations, the problem is occurring in the foot, with occasional lesions in the shoulders, hips, knees, and other joints. Problems in the foot can be due to injury, infections, malformations of the foot, or a combination of these factors.  

One of the most common problems of cattle feet is an infection of the skin and soft tissue above the hoof known as footrot. The bacteria that causes footrot is present in soil and is very common in cattle pens. In order for the bacteria to invade the foot, a break in the skin must occur first. Injury that allows infection may be due to rocks or rough ground, crop residue stubble, or extreme dryness. Wet and muddy areas can also be a problem in that prolonged exposure to wet ground can cause the skin to become soft and more easily injured. All lame cattle should be confined in a squeeze chute where the foot can be lifted and carefully examined to make an accurate diagnosis. It is very easy to mistake a puncture wound or other problem for footrot. If identified early in the course of the disease, most cattle will respond to treatment with antibiotics with complete recovery. If the infection has had longer to invade nearby joints, recovery is less likely. Prevention of outbreaks of footrot is primarily directed toward maintaining clean pens and designing watering and feeding areas to prevent the build up mud. Occasional, individual cases of footrot are probably unavoidable and these sporadic cases should be identified and treated as soon as possible. Use of feed additives such as iodine and antibiotics have not consistently shown to be beneficial for preventing footrot.  

A disease called hairy heel warts or digital dermatitis can also occur on the feet of cattle. Most commonly, a painful raw area that can look like a wart and may have long hair-like growths is identified directly behind the heels, but the area between the toes can also be affected. This disease is common in dairy cattle herds and although it is rare in cow-calf herds, it does occur in feedlot cattle and beef cattle that are housed in a drylot or on concrete. The current theory is that two or more germs work together to cause the disease and that these organisms thrive in manure-contaminated water. Housing that minimizes the time spent standing in water is the best prevention. Footbaths with antibiotics are used for treatment in dairies.   

Lameness in cattle can also be caused by infections in and around joints by bacteria that have traveled from other infections in the body. Mycoplasma bovis is an organism that is found in the lungs of some cattle with prolonged cases of pneumonia. This organism can travel through the bloodstream and infect joints and tendons causing severe lameness. Many antibiotics do not kill the organism and treatment of cattle with lameness due to Mycoplasma bovis is often not successful.  

Lameness can be caused by injuries to the foot or leg. Puncture wounds from nails, glass, or sharp pieces of metal can cause damage to the hoof itself or to the soft tissue around the hoof. Puncture wounds are often accompanied by a great deal of swelling and may appear similar to footrot. Damaged or poorly maintained loading chutes, alleys, or fences with sharp protrusions can also injure feet and legs.  

Toe abscess are most common in calves in confinement, particularly where sorting pens are abrasive and the cattle have soft hooves. Acidosis may also be a factor, and excitable behavior is considered to increase the risk that cattle may scramble on the concrete of the treatment or processing areas causing abrasions of their toes, which allows infections to occur. Toe abscesses are treated by nipping off the tip of the toe to allow drainage, administering antibiotics, and placing the cattle in areas with clean, solid footing. Sole abscesses are less common, but more difficult to treat than toe abscesses. The sole must be trimmed and the abscess opened to allow drainage and a wooden block is glued to the opposite toe to keep the affected toe from bearing weight. Sole abscesses are most common on the inside toes of the front legs and the outside toes of the back legs and may be related to incidences of acidosis. Laminitis is the foot problem most commonly associated with acidosis. In most cases of laminitis, the cattle on are on a high-concentrate diets or on stalk fields with a lot of residual grain. Severe cases of laminitis in cowherds will result in the animal being culled. 

Structural soundness occurs in varying degrees and structural problems can cause lameness. Pigeon toes, long toes, and straight hocks are examples of some of the more common structural problems. Corkscrew hoof is a genetic problem and any animal with the condition should be culled from the breeding herd. The hind leg should have an acceptable set to the hock as viewed from the side. The range of acceptability is 120° to 155° with the ideal of 140°. The post-legged condition, when rear legs have a greater than 155° set to the hock, is a fairly common and serious skeletal defect in beef cattle. Exceptionally straight hind legs are often associated with steep pasterns and straight shoulders. The bow-legged condition of hind legs is associated with a narrow placement of the feet and a disproportionate amount of weight on the outside claw, which can lead to lameness. When evaluating front limb structure, cattle should have an adequate slope to the shoulder (45°-50°) and the legs should be acceptably straight when viewed from the side and front. Front legs that bow inward at the knees up to 10° are considered acceptable but, knees that bow outward even slightly are unacceptable.  

Cattle lameness due to footrot can usually be corrected with timely and appropriate therapy. Other infectious problems such as digital dermatitis and toe or sole abscesses are more difficult to manage, but many affected cattle can be successfully treated. Malformations in the legs or toes often have a genetic component and although treatment such as corrective foot trimming can make the cattle more comfortable, no long-term cure is available. Whenever cattle become lame, it is almost always a good idea to confine the affected animal in a squeeze chute or tilt-table that allows thorough examination so that an accurate diagnosis can be make and appropriate treatment initiated.  

Land-Grant Funding, Hay Testing, Snake Bites, Abscesses & Other Issues

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.

3:07 Land-Grant Funding

7:54 Hay Testing Yes vs. No

14:26 Snake Bites, Abscesses and Other Issues

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!

ERS Chart: Shrinking Farms, Early Pregnancy Check, ET vs. AI

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2:49 ERS Chart: Shrinking Farms

7:56 Early Pregnancy Check

15:43 Listener Question: ET vs. AI

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!

Samantha Bennett, Heat Stress and Management, Preventing Disease Entry

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2:05 Samantha Bennett

9:40 Heat stress and management

15:37 Dr. Enoch Preventing Disease Entry

Guests: Samantha Bennett, Agriculture Today Producer and Host
Enoch Bergman, Beef Cattle Veterinarian 

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!

Optimum Rangeland Management is Likely Different Depending Upon the Ecosystem

Rangelands provide many human benefits such as food production, income for rural families and communities, recreation, wildlife habitat, soil carbon sequestration, plant and animal biodiversity, and water filtration. Grazing is often assumed to negatively impact the natural ecosystem and that removal of grazing would result in more pristine rangelands. The largest driver of forage and animal productivity, and economic return is proper stocking rate, and rotational or deferred grazing do not enhance these responses. But, management intensive grazing practices allow forages to store reserves during times of abundant precipitation, increase water-holding capacity, provide wildlife habitat at critical times of rearing young, and create a shifting mosaic with both old and new growth vegetation all the while maintaining animal productivity and income for ranchers. Therefore, several management factors such as stocking rate, grazing management, and fire regime can impact the human benefits received from rangelands.

Optimum rangeland management practices may differ depending on the ecosystems, and a recent analysis evaluated the interaction of ecosystem and rangeland management system at sites across the Great Plains. A computer simulation model capable of simulating plant growth and soil processes in response to stocking rate, grazing management, and fire regime was used for this analysis. 

Increasing stocking rate resulted in increased soil erosion at Kansas and Wyoming sites, but not at Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska sites. Additionally, timed rotational grazing increased soil erosion at Kansas sites. Annual burning of rangelands in the spring increased soil erosion at all sites except Nebraska due to less ground cover to protect the soil; however, the computer simulation was not designed to evaluate changes in the population of invasive plant species that might occur without spring burning. In contrast, timed rotational grazing decreased nitrogen losses from runoff, leaching, and volatization at all sites, but nitrogen loss was not affected by stocking rate or annual spring burning at any site. 

Soil carbon deposition among rangeland management practices was highly dependent upon site. Rotational grazing had no effect on soil carbon deposition at Kansas and South Dakota sites, increased soil carbon deposition at Wyoming site, and decreased soil carbon deposition at Montana and Nebraska sites. In general, soil carbon deposition decreased with increasing stocking rate, but was somewhat dependent upon grazing management and site. Annual spring burning drastically decreased soil carbon deposition at all sites due to the fact that the previous year’s forage residue was no longer available to enter the soil.The results of the analysis confirmed that ecosystem effects the response to rangeland management practices such that there is no one-size-fits-all management system. The optimum rangeland management system will need to be developed locally. Additionally, there will be tradeoffs that will need to be evaluated by each rancher to meet their sustainability goals.

Australian Cattle Industry and BVD

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6:42 Australian Cattle Industry

12:30 BVD
Read more here

Guest: Enoch Bergman, Beef Cattle Veterinarian

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Cow Herd Mineral Supplementation

When I think about meeting the nutritional needs of beef cow-calf herds, I fist focus on the ability of the base forage to meet the energy and protein needs of the various groups of cattle on the ranch that differ by age and lactation status. But another aspect of nutrition that must also be considered is the mineral content of the diet. The minerals available from grazed and harvested forages and feed depend greatly on the soil on which it is grown as well as the type of plant being consumed. Because of the importance that soil plays in the availability of many minerals, supplementation needs can vary greatly across North America. In addition, mineral needs (particularly calcium and phosphorus) will increase somewhat in late gestation and to a greater extent during lactation compared to non-lactating cattle (heifers, dry cows, bulls). 

Several minerals are necessary in beef cattle diets to maintain optimum health, reproduction, and growth. Minerals needed in relatively large amounts are described as major or macro minerals while minerals needed in small amounts are usually called micro or trace minerals. The major minerals that most commonly need to be supplemented in beef cattle diets are sodium (salt), calcium, and phosphorus, while magnesium and potassium are major minerals that require supplementation under certain circumstances. The six trace minerals that may be deficient in forage-based diets are copper, cobalt, iodine, selenium, zinc and manganese.

The mineral needed in the greatest amount in beef diets is salt (sodium chloride). Because salt is deficient in most natural feeds, it should be supplemented in all situations. The level of salt needed can vary depending on the diet, type of cattle, and environmental conditions, but a general rule is to supply 1 to 2 oz per day. 

Calcium and phosphorus are often considered together. Calcium content of grass decreases somewhat as forage matures and becomes dormant but often maintains levels that supply dietary needs throughout the year. Phosphorus, however, is leached out of dormant forage, so that by mid-winter levels are much lower than while forages are growing. Grains and many by-product feeds used to supplement cows on dormant forage such as wheat middlings, soybean products, distillers grains, and corn gluten feed have high phosphorus content that will likely provide sufficient levels in the diet. 

The Coastal Plain of Texas and other portions of the Gulf Coast, the Sandhills of Nebraska, Montana, as well as portions of Minnesota, North Dakota, and areas in numerous other states have phosphorus-deficient soils and diet supplementation should be a priority. In many other parts of the country, phosphorus deficiencies are seldom identified and phosphorus supplementation is not needed or can be strategically planned for period of high demand (late gestation and early lactation). 

Deficiency of magnesium is identified as a condition known as grass tetany. Observed most frequently in the early spring, grass tetany results from the consumption of lush forage, which has low levels of magnesium and sodium and has an excess of potassium. In addition to plant factors, grass tetany is associated with late pregnancy and early lactation due to the movement of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium out of blood circulation and into the udder for milk production. During periods when grass tetany is a danger, a mineral mix with at least 18% magnesium needs to be offered. Because cattle do not like the taste of magnesium oxide, dry molasses or other flavor enhancers should be added to the mineral mix.

Minerals needed in small amounts are called trace minerals, and in most situations requirements are met with grazed forages or supplemental feedstuffs. But deficiencies or imbalances of trace minerals can occur when cattle grazing on some soil types consume plants that are either deficient in some important trace minerals or have excessive amounts of minerals that will tie-up or prevent the proper utilization of other minerals. For example, iron, molybdenum and other minerals, nitrate, sulfate, protein, and plant estrogens are known to reduce copper utilization. The first priority in trace mineral nutrition is to reduce the intake of antagonists in order to minimize the amount of supplemental mineral required. This may be accomplished by changing water sources, rotating pastures so that animals are not on pastures with high levels of antagonists for long periods of time, or changing harvested forage sources.  

Commercial mineral supplements are widely available and will meet the needs of most classes of cattle. The amount of each mineral provided by commercial products must be printed on the label. In some situations (due to concentrate feeds used and soil type), no commercial supplement is available to perfectly meet a herd’s mineral needs. In these situations, custom-mixes can be created. In this circumstance, the supplier of the supplement will work with the producer to provide the proper level of minerals based on analysis of the animal’s diet. 

Salt and other minerals can be delivered to cattle in several forms. If possible, minerals can be mixed into hand-fed protein or energy supplements so that all cattle are more likely to receive their allotted amount. But, if no supplement is being fed or if it is difficult or impossible to add minerals to the supplement, salt/mineral can be offered free-choice in a loose granular form or as a block or tub (or other solid or semi-solid form). All free-choice methods of mineral delivery will likely result in some cattle consuming far more and others far less than the desired amount. It has been reported that supplying salt/mineral in a loose form results in the highest intake, but because of loss to wind and weather or because of other convenience factors, a solid or semi-solid form may be more appropriate in some situations. Many commercial protein supplements – whether in a pellet, cake, tub or liquid form, have salt and other minerals added so that additional mineral supplementation is not needed. 

Because cows do not have the nutritional wisdom to consume the proper amount of free-choice mineral supplement to meet their dietary requirement or to avoid toxicity, it is important to monitor mineral intake. Determining the amount of mineral consumed over several days is necessary in order to know the herd’s average consumption. If consumption is too low, feed intake enhancers such as dry molasses, wheat mids, cottonseed meal or flavoring may be added. If consumption is too high, salt may be used to limit intake to desired levels. 

Managing Rising Input Costs, Rotational Grazing, Bull and Cow Safety

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.

2:30 Managing Rising Input Costs  

9:24 Rotational Grazing

16:19 Bull and Cow Safety

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!

New Antibiotic Legislation, First Calf Heifer Management, Hairy Heel Warts

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3:02 New Antibiotic Legislation  

8:09 First Calf Heifer Management

15:44 Hairy Heel Warts

Guest: Craig Payne, Associate Extension Professor, Extension Vet Med at the University of Missouri  

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!

Protein Supplementation will Boost Forage Digestion in Late Summer

As we move into the heat of summer, forage plants begin to reach maturity which means that the amount of lignin deposited in the plant cell wall increases and the amount of protein decreases. This is a continual process as the plant matures, but when the plant begins to put up seed heads is usually when forage digestibility begins to decline, although this can be forage species dependent. Lignin is not readily digested by rumen bacteria, and it also inhibits digestion of the rest of the plant cell wall. Additionally, the decrease in protein concentration becomes limiting for growth of rumen bacteria which decreases their ability to digest plant material. The increase in lignin and decrease in protein combine to reduce forage digestibility which in turn decreases the amount of forage the animal can consume. This becomes a double-edged sword in that the animal does not get as much nutrition from each bite and cannot eat as much.

It is impossible to remove the lignin once it is deposited in the plant cell wall. The only management strategy is to slow down the rate of plant maturation by frequent grazing. To accomplish this effect, cattle must be moved to a new paddock every day which is not practical for many ranches. Also, there is discrepancy as to whether frequent grazing/rest periods has the same effect with all forage species in all regions of the country.

Even though maintaining low lignin concentration of forages is not always practical, increasing the protein supply to rumen bacteria is beneficial and practical. Digestibility of forage can be improved with protein supplementation when forages mature in late summer. Previous research at Kansas State University indicates a 13% improvement in digestibility of native prairie hay with protein supplementation. Available protein sources that work well are soybean meal and cottonseed meal that provide large amounts rumen degradable protein meaning that this protein is available to the rumen bacteria. Other feedstuffs such as distiller’s grains are lower in rumen degradable protein and higher in energy and are better suited when both energy and protein need to supplemented.

Protein supplementation can be easily implemented in many ranch situations due to the ability of the ruminant animal to recycle nitrogen within the body. Because of this ability to recycle nitrogen back to the rumen, beef cows and stocker calves can be supplemented with a high protein feed every 3 to 6 days rather than daily with similar benefits in forage digestion. Be sure to monitor the maturity of forage plants in pastures over the next few weeks to determine the appropriate time to begin protein supplementation. Work with your veterinarian or county extension agent to determine the appropriate time and amount of protein supplement.

Penile Warts, Value of Tree Leaves, Starting in Agriculture

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.

2:58 Listener Question: Penile Warts  

9:20 Listener Question: Value of Tree Leaves

16:50 Listener Question: Starting in Agriculture  

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!

Being a Good Neighbor from a Cattle Health Standpoint

Being a good neighbor (and having good neighbors) is an important consideration when planning your overall herd health strategy. The impact that neighboring cattle can have on the health of your herd depends on the level of contact, the specific disease in question, and the timing of contact between herds. Nearby herds that can impact your herd’s health can range from herds comingled with yours for grazing purposes, to herds with fence-line contact with your herd, to herds with no direct contact with your cattle but within a distance that escaped cattle, wildlife, humans, and air- and water-flow could move disease-causing agents between herds. For most disease risks, more frequent and long-lasting exposure between herds carries greater risk than very occasional or short-term contact. However, even short-term contact between herds can lead to serious health problems if the exposure occurs during a time in pregnancy when either the dam or fetus is particularly vulnerable, or at an animal-age or time of year when a particular disease causes the most problems.  

Viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms can cause disease when the dose of disease-causing agents overwhelms the ability of cattle to fight them. Cattle herds can fail to build good immunity to some diseases either because of certain characteristics of the germs themselves or because some disease-causing germs are rarely found in herds and herds are unlikely to build long-term immunity against germs they don’t contact. In these situations, even a small exposure may lead to many cattle becoming sick, aborting their fetuses, or having other negative consequences; and contact between herds increases this risk. In contrast, some disease-causing agents are so common in cattle populations that it is unlikely that any one herd is completely free of the organism – so contact between herds does not greatly increase the risk of many common diseases. 

The germs that cause trichomoniasis (Trich) and bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) are examples whereby most herds are susceptible to major disease problems if exposed to cattle that carry these germs. One of the common ways to expose a herd to these diseases is by contact with neighboring herds. Other diseases such as anaplasmosis are common in many parts of the country but rare in other parts – therefore contact with neighboring herds can increase the risk for these diseases in some areas but not in other areas. And diseases such as bovine leukosis, neosporosis, and the agents that cause bovine respiratory disease and calf scours are so common that contact between herds would rarely increase the disease risk in herds that are already infected.

It is important to work with your veterinarian to devise an appropriate plan to keep your herd from being exposed to cattle that carry Trich and BVD organisms. You should also work with your veterinarian to implement a strategy to limit the negative effects of bovine respiratory disease, calf scours, and other common diseases even though you will not be able to eliminate or keep the germs associated with these diseases from your herd. 

A few diseases can be passed even after cattle have died; therefore, proper carcass disposal to prevent direct contact with other cattle, spread of organisms by scavengers such as coyotes and birds, and contamination of water or soil that other animals may contact is necessary to be a good neighbor. Your veterinarian, Extension agent, or local regulatory contacts can provide you with information about proper carcass disposal. 

Being a good neighbor also means that you control flies as well as toxic plants and weeds that can move from one cattle operation to another. In many situations, pest control can only be effective if all the agriculture operations in the area implement control measures; and all operations benefit from the efforts of others in the area. But even as pesticides and other chemicals intended for use on plants and animals can be important weapons to control disease and improve animal health, they also pose a toxic risk if they are not applied or disposed of properly. It is important that everyone using farm chemicals is properly trained on how chemicals should be applied to animals, plants, and premises, and also how they should be stored so that animals are not accidentally exposed to concentrated, toxic doses, and how to safely dispose of any residues and the empty containers. 

In summary, being a good neighbor from an animal health perspective involves having good pasture management, animal husbandry, and animal health skills. Specifically, good neighbors use effective pest control, maintain good fences to limit unintended cross-fence exposure, and work with a veterinarian to implement vaccination and biosecurity plans for diseases that can move from one herd to another to provide protection not only to your own herd, but to decrease disease risk for other herds in the area.