AVC Conference, Record Keeping on Your Cow Herd and Preconditioning

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat! Clink on the links below to be taken to the websites and sources mentioned in the podcast.

1:25 – Academy of Veterinary Consultants Meeting

7:48 – Record Keeping on Your Cowherd (Continued)

13:25 – Preconditioning

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our new website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu.

Hosted By: Dr. Brad White, Dr. Bob Larson, Dr. Bob Weaber and Dr. Dustin Pendell

Cattle Traceability, Keeping Records on Your Cow Herd, Preg Checking Heifers Early

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat! Clink on the links below to be taken to the websites and sources mentioned in the podcast.

1:00 – National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

9:13 –   How Import is it to Keep Records on Your Cow Herd? 

13:00 – Preg Checking Heifers Early

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our new website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu.

Hosted By: Dr. Brad White, Dr. Bob Larson, Dr. Bob Weaber and Dr. Dustin Pendell

Consolidation of Land, Crossbreeding, Forage Testing and Pregnancy Nutrition

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat! Clink on the links below to be taken to the websites and sources mentioned in the podcast.

1:12 –   Consolidation of Land

8: 45  – Question from Audience about Crossbreeding

  • Beef Sire Selection Manual

13:31 –  Forage Testing 

16:00 – Pregnancy Nutrition

19:37 – Upcoming Conferences

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our new website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu.

Hosted By: Dr. Brad White, Dr. Bob Larson, Dr. Bob Weaber and Dr. Dustin Pendell

Clinical Update: Dedicate a new tank for hauling water

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Plastic tanks used to haul fertilizer, non-protein nitrogen or similar substances are difficult, if not impossible, to clean out, Dr. Steve Ensley stressed.

No matter how well you clean it, a tank used to store or haul chemical shouldn’t be used to haul water to thirsty cattle.

Hot, dry summers often mean hauling water for cattlemen across the country. Whether the windmill quit or the pond went dry, it’s the time of year when producers roll out plastic tanks to ensure their cattle have access to water.

Every year, Dr. Steve Ensley, veterinary toxicologist with the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at Kansas State University, gets the same call: A producer hauled water, and now he’s got dead cattle. After a particularly devastating loss in western Kansas earlier this year, Dr. Ensley stressed the importance of delivering clean, chemical-free water to cattle.

Use a new tank
His bottom line? Use a brand new tank. Often, producers use the same polypropylene tank to haul water that is used for hauling fertilizer, herbicide or other farm-use chemicals.

“If those tanks have ever been used to haul fertilizer, non-protein nitrogen or similar substances, they’re difficult, if not impossible, to clean out,” he stressed. “You need to have a dedicated tank, and all you use it for is animal drinking water.”

Any fertilizer or herbicide chemicals can leach into the plastic fibers and can contaminate any water with which the tank is filled. There’s no way to scrub, steam or clean it out, Dr. Ensley said.

One of his latest cases involved a tank previously used for nitrogen and urea. After 18 hours without water, cattle drank excessively from the contaminated water, resulting in several deaths.

“It’s very common,” Dr. Ensley said. “I see it every year. It’s worth the investment to get a tank dedicated to only hauling water.”

Symptoms of toxicity
Nitrates cause an interference with an animal’s ability to oxygenate.

“You see varying degrees of oxygen deprivation from just ataxic or wobbly, to down cattle and serious respiratory issues,” he said.

Urea compounds cause hyper-ammonia issues. Dr. Ensley said the compounds can cause symptoms similar to grass tetany toxicity. Cattle may seem agitated or easily provoked, and can die within 30 minutes of ingesting water contaminated with urea compounds.

Hauling water to cattle in a tank previously used to store or haul herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers “is probably not a good idea.”

“If that’s the only source of water the animals have and it’s contaminated, it’s not a good idea,” Dr. Ensley said. “We want to try to provide them with the best quality water we can. Hauling water in a tank that’s been used for something else on the farm is just not a good idea. I continually see this and in most all cases, the animals lost would have purchased at least one new tank. It’s just not worth the risk.”

Contact the Lab
If you have questions or suspect chemical toxicity due to a contaminated water tank, call the K-State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at 785-532-5650 or toll free at 866-512-5650. Less urgent inquiries can be directed to clientcare@vet.k-state.edu. Producers with animals requiring immediate services should contact their local veterinarian, or may call the Veterinary Health Center Emergency Desk at 785-532-4100. Visit the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab’s website at KSVDL.org.

Dr. Steve Ensley is a clinical veterinary toxicologist with the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (KSVDL) and College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Ensley’s interests are in clinical veterinary toxicology and applied toxicology research. Food animal veterinary toxicology is his passion.

Beef Improvement Federation, Consolidation, Drought Feedstuffs and Upcoming Conferences

Clink on the links below to be taken to the websites and sources mentioned in the podcast.

0:53  –  Beef Improvement Federation – AI – EPD – Genomics

8: 56  – Consolidation Questions

15:00 – Drought Feedstuffs

20:27 – Upcoming Conferences

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our new website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu.

Hosted By: Dr. Brad White, Dr. Bob Larson, Dr. Bob Weaber and Dr. Dustin Pendell

Announcement: Resubscribe to BCI Cattle Chat

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Questions about Trade, Fair Season and the Value of 4-H/FFA, Lameness in Calves, Implanting Calves

Topics

1:43 – Questions about Trade

9:08 – Fair Season and Value of 4-H/FFA

11:45 – Lameness in Calves

14:47 – Implanting Calves

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our new website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu.

Hosted By: Dr. Brad White, Dr. Bob Larson, Dr. Bob Weaber and Dr. Dustin Pendell

 

Vet Call: Nutritional aspects of cattle health

By Dr. Bob Larson, DVM
Reprinted with permission from the Angus Journal.

Meeting the nutritional needs of cattle is the foundation of a healthy herd. Nutritional needs differ between bulls, dry cows, lactating cows, growing replacement heifers and post-weaning calves, and the nutrient composition of forages change throughout the year. Because of the interaction between changing animal needs and changing forage conditions, herd managers must be informed and prepared to provide appropriate supplements when needed. In almost all situations when cattle have the opportunity to graze green growing forages that are high-quality and readily digestible, the only supplement needed is salt (and based on local soil and plant characteristics, possibly other minerals). However, even green growing grass has the potential to cause health problems if the concentration of the mineral magnesium is low in the lush leaves at the same time that cows grazing the forage have high magnesium requirements due to being in early lactation or late pregnancy.

While green growing forage is an excellent feed source for cattle, because of weather factors and growth characteristics of grass, for many weeks of the year cattle only have access to mature or dormant forage that has reduced quality and digestibility. Standing dormant forage and moderate-quality hay can meet most, if not all, energy and protein needs of cattle with relatively low nutritional demands, such as mature cows that are not lactating and bulls that are not active. If cattle are growing or lactating, dormant forage or hay may be deficient in energy and/or protein and these nutrients must be supplemented to avoid inadequate growth or even weight loss. The maturity and quality of forage when it is cut for hay as well as the conditions in which the hay dries before baling have tremendous impact on the nutrients present. Waiting to cut hay until the forage is very mature may increase the tonnage available, but the quality may be so low that either the cattle will not be provided needed nutrients or the needed supplementation drives up the total diet cost. Because growing replacement heifers, growing bulls and cows in late stages of pregnancy or early lactation have high nutrient needs, these classes of cattle require higher quality forages or more supplementation of poor-quality forage than adult, non-lactating cattle.

Because forages, and readily available energy and protein supplements vary greatly across North America, knowledge of local forages and feeds is essential when planning the most cost-efficient diets for cow herds. The types of predominant forage plants and the growth patterns of the different plants in diverse areas of the country greatly impact the quality of the diet for grazing cattle. Many forages and feeds have specific characteristics that affect not only the diet quality but can also cause potential negative effects. Knowledge and experience is needed to avoid health and production problems. Use of some supplemental feeds has to be limited due to adverse effects when fed at higher levels. For example, the high starch content of corn and other grains limits their use in forage-based diets; the potentially high levels of sulfur in corn gluten feed, distillers grain and some other by-product feeds requires that they be used in moderation; and gossypol in cottonseed meal can cause reduced fertility in bulls, which requires that this feed be fed for a limited time or in limited amounts in the weeks ahead of the breeding season.

Cattle that are not receiving adequate amounts of water, energy, protein, salt, and required vitamins and minerals can exhibit a wide range of problems that include poor growth, weight loss, failure to become pregnant, hair and skin lesions, bone and joint problems, and susceptibility to sicknesses such as pneumonia, scours and nervous system disease. Unless underlying nutritional problems are identified and corrected, use of vaccines, antibiotics and other interventions will not improve herd health. In many situations, outright disease is not detected, but nutrient deficiencies are negatively impacting body weight and fertility of the herd.

Fortunately, cattle will thrive on many different types of forages and feeds. The rumen has the ability to convert moderate- and even low-quality feeds into needed nutrients. Because cattle can eat a wide variety of feeds, locally available products that could not be easily shipped to other parts of the country or could not be used in other animal diets can serve as excellent cattle feeds. Knowledge of the nutrient needs of different classes of cattle as well as experience with local forages and feeds will allow cattle producers and their advisors to develop cost-effective diets that meet the needs of cattle to maintain good health and productivity.

Dr. Larson is a professor of production medicine with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University, Edgar E. and Elizabeth Coleman Chair of Food Animal Production Medicine, executive director of Veterinary Medical Continuing Education, and faculty member with the Beef Cattle Institute. He specializes in the integration of animal health, production efficiency and economic considerations in beef cattle production. This column is reprinted and redistributed with permission from the Angus Journal.

Research Update: Duration of postpartum anestrus in cows and heifers

The length of time it takes for a cow to resume fertile cycles after calving directly affects the reproductive performance and efficiency of a cow-calf herd. Dr. Robert Larson, professor of production medicine, collaborated with Dr. Doug Shane, Dr. Mike Sanderson, Dr. Matt Miesner and Dr. Brad White to develop a model investigating the effects on herds with differing lengths of time to resume fertility after calving over the course of 10 years.

Ideally, the average cow in a herd takes 50-60 days to resume cycling following calving when the cows are in good body condition. However, herds with a high percentage of thin cows, cows that experienced calving difficulty, or cows that are slower to resume fertile cycles after calving due to presumed genetic reasons may average slightly to much longer length of post-calving infertility.

“Relatively small increases in the length of post-calving infertility have detrimental effects on the herd’s productivity and those effects can persist for several years,” Dr. Larson explained. “Conversely, relatively small improvements also have important benefits.”

While the differences between a herd with optimal reproductive efficiency and less efficient herds can be difficult, if not impossible to see outwardly, the model provides quantitative evidence of change.

Calving heifers ahead of cows
In a separate study, the group developed a 10-year model determining the effects of breeding heifers before mature cows. One of the challenges when managing the length of post-calving infertility is to ensure that the youngest group of cows that just had their first calf are ready to breed by the start of the breeding season. These young cows tend to take longer to return to fertility than mature cows and good reproductive management of this important age-group starts long before they are bred for their first pregnancy.

“Focusing on development of replacement heifers is critical for good overall herd reproductive efficiency,” Dr. Larson said. “If replacement heifers can be managed so that all those that are selected to enter the herd will calve before the start of the mature cow calving season, all (or nearly all) of this age-group will have time after calving to resume fertile cycles by the start of their second breeding season.”

While breeding replacement heifers earlier than the mature cows provides benefits, it also requires additional management and may be inconvenient. The second model investigated how to select the optimum length of time to breed heifers ahead of mature cows. While the optimum heifer lead time is different for different herds, in general, the greatest bang for your buck occurs when heifers are bred to calve three to four weeks ahead of mature cows. While breeding even earlier provides additional benefits, the amount of improvement in reproductive efficiency decreases with each week earlier that heifer breeding is moved.

Read the published abstracts, papers and key points below.

Journal of Animal Science, Volume 95, Issue 4, April 2017: A deterministic, dynamic systems model of cow-calf production: The effects of the duration of postpartum anestrus on production parameters over a 10-year horizon
Key study findings

Journal of Animal Science, Volume 95, Issue 10, Oct. 2017: A deterministic, dynamic systems model of cow–calf production: The effects of breeding replacement heifers before mature cows over a 10-year horizon
Key study findings

Theriogenology, Volume 105, January 2018: Determining potential pregnancy status differences based on a new method of yearling heifer prebreeding examination
Key study findings

BCI Explains: What’s Cattle Chat?

By Shelby Mettlen, communications and marketing specialist

Because veterinarians and beef producers are often on the road, the Beef Cattle Institute (BCI) at Kansas State University has launched BCI Cattle Chat, a weekly podcast to provide current industry information to its on-the go audience.

Dr. Bob Larson, DVM and professor of production medicine; Dr. Brad White, DVM and director of the BCI; Dr. Dustin Pendell, professor of agricultural economics; and Dr. Bob Weaber, professor and beef extension specialist, make up the podcast team.

“A lot of valuable research takes place at K-State and other land-grant universities, and busy producers need convenient ways to receive information about the latest developments in beef production and marketing,” Dr. Larson said. “By having professors from animal science, agricultural economics and veterinary medicine addressing timely topics, and important management and marketing issues, producers receive more well-rounded answers that cross several disciplines.”

Short, conversational updates are recorded each Tuesday and distributed to iTunes, Google Play and Castbox the following Friday for download. Topics range from production and management tips, to updates on industry news and practice management.

“The goal is to allow us to share information in a new format that is accessible by those people who are busy and on the go,” Dr. White explained. “It benefits the industry by providing updates to producers who can transfer this information into actionable strategies to fit their operations and practices.”

BCI Cattle Chat is also an interactive tool, and the team has received and addressed questions from listeners across the country. Listeners can submit questions and suggested topics to bci@ksu.edu.

Podcast episodes can be downloaded directly to your mobile device or accessed from a desktop for easy listening on iTunes, Google Play and Castbox. More information on downloading the podcast can be found at ksubci.org/media/podcast.

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Drs. Brad White (left) and Bob Larson discuss managing cattle in extreme heat during a June recording.

Kansas Announces Cattle Trace Pilot Program for Disease Traceability

For more information:
Heather Lansdowne
785-564-6706
AgMedia@ks.gov

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Governor Jeff Colyer and Secretary Jackie McClaskey joined leaders from the Kansas livestock industry on Saturday, June 30, at Barton County Feeders in Ellinwood to announce the Cattle Trace pilot project. Cattle Trace is a public-private partnership which will develop and test a purpose-built cattle disease traceability infrastructure in Kansas that will guide discussion and development of traceability on a national scale.

“Kansas is home to the finest beef producers and operations in the nation,” said Colyer. “We are proud that the Kansas beef industry has taken the lead in this important project that will enhance our ability to protect cattle health here and across the nation.”

Cattle disease traceability is an important component in the overall biosecurity of the U.S. beef cattle industry, playing a significant role in resuming and maintaining commerce in the event of a disease outbreak. The development of a viable end-to-end cattle disease traceability system is a top priority in the beef industry in Kansas and nationwide.

“KLA members have long recognized the importance of traceability for animal disease purposes to help protect their livelihoods and the industry,” said Kansas Livestock Association Chief Executive Officer Matt Teagarden. “We are excited to be part of this effort to move traceability forward for Kansas producers and ultimately the entire U.S. livestock sector.” KLA members amended policy in December 2017 to support mandatory cattle disease traceability for all ages of cattle. This policy shift provided momentum across Kansas to take action.

From end-to-end, each step of the beef cattle supply chain exists in Kansas, positioning the state well to test an expanded system capable of informing and guiding development of an enhanced traceability system on a national level.

“We have the opportunity to develop a cattle disease traceability system on our terms. The capabilities of Cattle Trace will enable us to do the right thing for animal health and biosecurity, and for the entire U.S. beef cattle industry,” said Brandon Depenbusch, vice president of cattle operations for Innovative Livestock Services, a member of the Cattle Trace steering committee. ILS will be one of at least ten feed yards that will participate in the pilot project in addition to livestock markets, cow-calf ranches and beef processors.

In early 2018, the Cattle Trace collaborators began working to develop a purpose-built infrastructure to track cattle movement through the supply chain. Cattle Trace will utilize ultra-high frequency technologies to collect the minimal data necessary, including an individual animal identification number, a GPS location, and date and time, in order to track animals in the event of a disease outbreak. Tag readers will be located at livestock markets, feed yards and beef processors. Movement data collection will begin in fall 2018, and the project will continue for approximately two years.

“We know for a traceability system to be effective, it needs to be simple, fast, and affordable to make its adoption within the industry as seamless as possible,” said Brad White, director of the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University. “We are working to build a system to test today and one that will serve the U.S. beef cattle industry in the future.”

Cattle Trace is a collaborative partnership between Kansas State University, the Kansas Livestock Association, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, USDA, and individual producer stakeholders. It is being jointly funded by public and private resources.

“The development of Cattle Trace is a direct result of proactive leaders in the Kansas beef industry recognizing an opportunity to develop a traceability system that works for producers,” said Secretary McClaskey. “We have seen tremendous leadership from industry partners ready to step up and take an active role on this critical issue.”

For more information about the Cattle Trace project, go to cattletrace.org or contact the program coordinator, Cassie Kniebel, at info@cattletrace.org or 785-564-7446.

This news release was prepared by Heather Lansdowne for the Kansas Department of Agriculture. For more information, contact 785-564-6707 or AgMedia@ks.gov. Photos by the Beef Cattle Institute.

CattleTrace_63018-14_foremail
Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer attended the event at Barton County Feeders near Ellinwood, Kansas, on Saturday, June 30.
“Kansas is home to the finest beef producers and operations in the nation,” said Colyer. “We are proud that the Kansas beef industry has taken the lead in this important project that will enhance our ability to protect cattle health here and across the nation.”

Veterinary graduate student selected as Seaboard American Royal scholar

By Gabriella Doebele, College of Veterinary Medicine student communications assistant

AshLee Lattner, Ph.D. student in veterinary biomedical studies, was selected as a 2018 Seaboard American Royal scholar. Lattner is one of 12 scholars selected from across the country.

AshLeeLatner
AshLee Lattner is a Ph.D. student in veterinary biomedical sciences and a graduate student with the Beef Cattle Institute.

The Seaboard Royal Scholarship program is designed to provide opportunities for outstanding college students to advocate for leadership, the food and fiber industry, and the American Royal. Lattner will receive of a $2,500 scholarship award. Scholars will travel to Kansas City, Missouri, in September for the 119th American Royal to participate in tours, PRCA Rodeo and other American Royal events.

“I am incredibly humbled to receive this opportunity to advocate for an industry that has informed my personal development, education and career,” said Lattner. “Building on my agricultural economics and philosophy background, I am now studying beef industry sustainability in terms of system dynamics. More specifically, our team is exploring how production practices affect the interactions and tradeoffs between social, environmental and economic factors.”

Lattner is a graduate research assistant at the Beef Cattle Institute (BCI). She works under Dr. Brad White, director of the BCI, and Dr. Bob Larson, professor in clinical studies. Her research focuses on value generation and supply chain management with an emphasis on sustainability. Her studies seek to further understand beef production terms of land use, ethics, business and economics.

“My animal welfare project is aimed at facilitating information flow throughout supply chains,” Lattner explained. “The goal of my environmental economics project is to establish market-based, sustainable production incentives. This scholarship greatly enhances my ability to perform thorough and applicable research by helping me participate in these educational experiences and engage with appropriate stakeholders for our projects.”

Clinical Update: Managing blue-green algae

Toxins produced by blue-green algae in the presence of chemical runoff, rainfall and hot temperatures can be fatal to cattle. 

The incidence of blue-green algae blooms has been increasing in the last 20 years, said Dr. Steve Ensley, clinical veterinary toxicologist with Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Some evidence suggests the blooms are driven by nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from agricultural practices used on cropland, or chemical runoff from cities and industrial practices, but neither speculation is backed by enough evidence to determine a cause. The blooms may occur on ponds from June through as late as October, and resemble what Dr. Ensley describes as spilled paint. In the right conditions, usually driven by the presence of nitrogen, phosphorus and rainfall, blue-green algae can produce toxins, he explained.

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Mostly likely spurred by nitrogen and phosphorus runoff, rainfall and hot temperatures, blue-green algae, naturally present in most pasture water sources, can enter a rapid growth phase and produce toxins that can cause organ damage and death in livestock and humans.

Most common in the Midwest and Kansas is the microcystin. When consumed, the toxin can cause damage to the liver.

An animal affected by the liver toxin may become lethargic, avoid eating and may die within 24-48 hours following exposure. The animal may go down and liver failure can occur. Another indication of liver toxin is yellowing of the eyes.

Anabaena, or anatoxin, is a neurotoxin produced by blue-green algae. “The neurotoxins they produce can be very potent,” Dr. Ensley pointed out. One form of that toxin, fast-death factor, can kill a human or animal in a matter of minutes following exposure.

“It’s fairly acute, and if they consume enough, they may die right around the pond, or not make it too far from the water source,” Dr. Ensley said.

If a producer suspects a blue-green algae bloom on a pond, contact the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (KSVDL), Dr. Ensley said. He instructs producers to collect a 500 milliliter sample in a plastic bottle on the downwind side of the water source where a bloom is suspected. Where the algae isn’t concentrated, there may not be enough toxin to detect an issue. The sample should be sent to the lab chilled.

Methods of control
To minimize the risk of blue-green algae toxicity, Dr. Ensley offered a few options. Solar aerators and dyes can help break up the blooms, but the implementation of buffer strips is the most widely used method of control throughout the Midwest. Buffer strips generally consist of grassland to minimize runoff from cropland to ponds.

He also pointed out that often, producers will suspect a blue-green algae bloom on the surface of tanks and waterers, but he said those generally won’t support algae growth. Wells are safe, too, due to limited sunlight.

“Waterers may look like they have moss on them,” Dr. Ensley explained. “They get dirty and the water may not look clean, but it’s rare to have an algae bloom in a water tank or water device.”

If a blue-green algae bloom is strongly suspected or confirmed, producers should move cattle off the pasture containing the affected water source to avoid organ damage and death loss. Contact the KSVDL at 785-532-5650, toll free at 1-866-512-5650, or at clientcare@vet.k-state.edu. Producers with animals needing immediate services should contact their local veterinarian, or may call the Veterinary Health Center Emergency Desk at 785-532-4100. For more information on testing, visit ksvdl.org.

Dr. Steve Ensley is a clinical veterinary toxicologist with the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (KSVDL) and College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Ensley’s interests are in clinical veterinary toxicology and applied veterinary toxicology research. Food animal veterinary toxicology is his passion.

Vet Call: Health risk when purchasing cattle

By Dr. Bob Larson, DVM
Reprinted with permission from the Angus Journal.

One issue in the buying and selling of cattle that is often not considered until a problem arises is the health aspects of the transaction. While every business deal involves some risk, including health risk, the level of risk is not the same for every transaction and producers and their veterinarians have options to lessen the likelihood and/or extent of negative outcomes.

In general, the less health information that is available for a sale animal, the greater risk the purchaser is taking. In many situations, the seller does not possess specific information about the health of the cattle they are selling or the potential negative outcomes that may occur when the purchased cattle are introduced into the buyer’s herd. Because a number of negative health outcomes can follow the introduction of new cattle into a herd, the buyer needs to beware of taking greater risks than should be reasonably expected.

When purchasing cattle to introduce into an existing herd, some potential health risks include: injury during transport, the stress of transport and a new environment causing a purchased animal to break with disease leading to illness of the purchased animal or transfer of germs or parasites to the herd, the purchase of cattle that have not been exposed to the germs commonly found in the home herd leading to illness of the purchased animals, and purchasing an animal that is a persistent carrier for an infectious disease and exposing the home herd to an unfamiliar germ.

The risk of injury can be decreased though careful handling and good loading, unloading and transport equipment. Good design and maintenance as well as appropriate flooring and bedding in transport trailers. A transportation plan including considerations of length of travel, weather exposure during travel and skill of the driver to avoid excessive fatigue on the part of the cattle being moved are all considerations to reduce the risk of injury of purchased cattle.

Stressed cattle are more likely to become ill, and to shed germs and parasites that can be spread to other cattle. Even when healthy cattle are transported to a clean environment in safe transport trailers, some level of stress can be expected. This potential period of greater susceptibility to disease and greater risk of exposing other cattle to disease-causing germs is the reason veterinarians recommend cattle being added to a herd are separated (quarantined) from the current herd for a period of at least 30 days so the new cattle can become completely acclimated and can have recovered from the stress of being transported to a new environment.

Even though the purchasers of new cattle are often concerned about any germs or parasites the new cattle may bring into their current herd, an equally important risk is that newly purchased cattle may be exposed to unfamiliar germs present in the home herd –– causing the new cattle to become sick. This risk can be addressed by using a period of time after the original 30 days of complete separation from the current herd to allow limited contact of the new additions with a few cattle from the original herd. Older cows or animals that are being culled are often used for this purpose.

Finally, the risk that many veterinarians and producers consider first when protecting a herd from the risk of introducing new cattle is purchasing an apparently healthy animal that is a persistently infected carrier of a disease that is not currently a problem in the herd. There are a number of important diseases that can enter a herd by the purchase of a carrier animal. In my opinion, the diseases that fall in this category that deserve the greatest attention in many parts of the U.S. are trichomoniasis (trich) and bovine viral diarrhea (BVD). Other diseases that have persistent carriers and that may be of particular concern for some herds include: anaplasmosis, Johne’s, and bovine leukosis virus (BLV).

Because of the amount of loss that can occur and our current disease-control abilities, no herd should tolerate the import of cattle infected with trich or BVD. However, for some other diseases that have persistently infected carriers, it is not always wise to insist in imports being free of the disease-causing germs. For example, in some parts of the country where anaplasmosis is extremely common, it may be better to purchase cattle that have been exposed to the organism previously and are themselves carriers. In contrast, if you live in an area with very low anaplasmosis risk, you need to protect the home herd by purchasing cattle that are not carriers. For diseases such as Johne’s and BLV, many herds already have carrier animals, and insisting that purchased replacements be negative won’t make much impact on the current herd’s health status.

My advice is to have plans to keep any cattle potentially infected with trich or BVD out of a breeding herd and to know the status of your herd for any other infectious agents you may want to exclude. Work closely with your veterinarian to develop the best plan for your specific herd to manage the risks of brining in new cattle to your herd. In many situations, it is helpful for your veterinarian to talk to the supplier’s veterinarian so the health status of your herd and the source herd can be compared. You should have a quarantine time when you can watch herd additions closely for at least 30 days. If any of the purchased cattle show signs of illness during that 30-day period –– keep them quarantined longer so that a full 30 days passes after the last episode of illness until the new cattle are allow to have contact with your herd. At the end of the quarantine period, consider exposing the herd additions to older (possibly culls) cattle so that purchased cattle are exposed to the home-herd’s germs and parasites while you can still watch them closely.

Purchasing herd additions that meet the genetic and marketing goals for your ranch is an important part of ranch management. Managing herd additions to limit the health risks involved is an often overlooked consideration in the transaction.

Dr. Larson is a professor of production medicine with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University, Edgar E. and Elizabeth Coleman Chair of Food Animal Production Medicine, executive director of Veterinary Medical Continuing Education, and faculty member with the Beef Cattle Institute. His area of specialization is the integration of animal health, production efficiency and economic considerations in beef cattle production. This column is reprinted and redistributed with permission from the Angus Journal.

Research Update: Do darts deliver?

Pneumatic dart delivery of tulathromycin in calves results in lower antimicrobial concentrations and increased biomarkers of stress and injection site inflammation compared to subcutaneous injection

Research by Dr. Hans Coetzee, department head and professor of anatomy and physiology, Kansas State University; Michael D. Kleinhenz, graduate student, Kansas State University; Dr. Drew R. Magstadt, Iowa State University; Dr. Vickie L. Cooper, Iowa State University; Dr. Larry W. Wulf, Iowa State University; Nicholas K. Van Engen, Dr. Joseph S. Smith, Dr. Nathan Rand, Dr. Butch KuKanich, Kansas State University; and Dr. Patrick J. Gordon, Iowa State University with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University

The use of pneumatic darts to deliver medication to livestock animals has been gaining popularity, said Dr. Hans Coetzee, head of the department of anatomy and physiology at Kansas State University (K-State). Due to an increase in the number of reports of the use of the technology by producers and practitioners from the field, Dr. Coetzee, in collaboration with colleagues at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University, recently published a study in the Journal of Animal Science detailing the use of pneumatic darts to administer tulathroymycin (Draxxin®) to cattle.

Historically, darting is a practice more commonly used to deliver drugs to wildlife. However, the use of pneumatic darts to deliver medication to sick cattle has seen an increase in some parts of the U.S. In pasture and range conditions, where handling facilities are not immediately available, producers and practitioners have employed the use of darting to administer medication as soon as an illness is identified.

Not a point-and-shoot technology
The team’s first surprise came with the discovery that the darts did not consistently
deliver the drug, Dr. Coetzee said. “There were four out of 15 animals that were successfully darted where the dart failed to deliver the drug altogether.” Darting1

In other cases, trace amounts of the drug were found in the animals, not at levels effective against the bacteria causing the infection, but at levels that could pose a risk of tissue residues or promote the development of antimicrobial resistance.

It’s a significant finding, because when a dart is delivered, it can remain attached to the animal receiving treatment for up to an hour following delivery. Without retrieving the dart, producers would not know if the drug was delivered.

“In all cases, we would recommend that producers label the darts and retrieve them after they are expelled so they know if the drug was actually delivered through the dart to the target animal,” Dr. Coetzee said. Dart retrieval will also prevent the needles from posing a risk to off-target animals and the environment.

A second finding from the study determined animals that were darted had a lower overall exposure to Draxxin® compared to animals that were held in a squeeze chute and injected under the skin. Total drug exposure is a critical requirement for treatment success with drugs like Draxxin®.

“The question our study raised is that with these delivery technologies, is the drug being delivered under the skin or in the muscle?” Dr. Coetzee pointed out. “Drugs like Draxxin® are only approved for injection under the skin. In our study we found that the drug behaved differently in the animal when it was darted versus when it was injected under the skin suggesting that some of the drug may have been injected into the muscle. What we don’t know at this time is whether the site of injection will impact the effectiveness of the drug or the potential for violative tissue residues.” That will take additional studies, he said.

Dr. Coetzee also pointed out a handful of animal welfare concerns surrounding the technology. According to the study, darting appears to result in increased pain sensitivity and inflammation at the injection site, and appears to be more stressful compared to placing animals in a squeeze chute and administering the injection subcutaneously.

Use with caution
Darting can potentially be a useful tool, Dr. Coetzee maintained, but warned producers and practitioners of the limitations to the technology when treating animals.

“There are significant challenges with making sure the drug is delivered correctly,” he said. “If producers are going to use this technology, they should be aware that our study represented the best-case scenario,” he said. “Animals were restrained with rope halters at a fixed distance from an experienced veterinarian who was delivering the dart from a dead rest.”

In spite of this, in one-third of the study animals, the dart was not administered in the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA)-compliant area of the neck.

While darting can be a convenient way to deliver a drug in range conditions, Dr. Coetzee concluded, there are significant limitations to this technology that producers should consider before they decide to deliver drugs this way.

Read the published Journal of Animal Science study. 

Dr. Hans Coetzee is a professor and head of the Department of Anatomy and Physiology with Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and interim director of the Nanotechnology Innovation Center of Kansas State (NICKS) and Institute of Computational Comparative Medicine (ICCM). His professional interests include the development of pain assessment techniques and practical analgesic drug regimens for use in food animals.

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