Health Risk when Purchasing Cattle

Bob L. Larson, DVM, PhD
Beef Cattle Institute
Kansas State University

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 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 along with a transportation plan that includes 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.

Cattle that are stressed 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 that veterinarians recommend that cattle being added to a herd are separated (quarantined) from the current herd for a period of at least 30 days so that the new cattle can become completely acclimated and can have recovered from the stress of being transported to a new environment.

Even though the purchaser of new cattle are often concerned about any germs or parasites that the new cattle may be bringing 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.

And 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 of the 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.

In summary, 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 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 that 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.

Cow-calf Software, Baling Hay, Research Roundup, Creep Feeding, Milk Fever

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.

2:18 Listener question: cow-calf software

9:45 Baling hay

15:20 Research Roundup: Hector Rojas

18:45 Creep feeding

25:20 Listener question: milk fever

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Research Roundup, Beef Calves from Dairy, Pinkeye, Replacing Corn with Wheat, Cow Vaccinations

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4:12 Research Roundup: Dr. Harith Salih

6:42 Beef calves from dairy cattle

11:15 Pinkeye

17:40 Replacing corn with wheat

21:43 Listener question: Cow Vaccinations

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Training Students in Animal Science, New Technologies in the Repro World, Matching Cows to the Environment

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Guest: Dr. Karol Fike

4:00 Training students in animal science

13:50 New technologies in the repro world

22:30 How do I know if my cows are matched to my environment?

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Stocking Rate, Cattle Cycle, Value of Genetic Testing, Route of Administration

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Guest: Dr. Jennifer Bormann

3:28 Stocking rate: what does that mean?

9:02 Cattle cycle: current inventory and changes

16:38 Value of genetic testing

29:33 Route of administration

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Cattle are Major Recyclers in the Human Food Supply Chain

Phillip Lancaster, PhD
BCI Nutritionist

Food waste accounts for greater than 40% of food production, and food waste disposed of in a landfill contributes to methane emissions. Solid waste in landfills, although not all food waste, accounts for 14% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than agriculture at 9%. Globally, food waste accounts for 6 to 8% of greenhouse gas emissions; about half of the 14% contributed by livestock. However, most food waste could be recycled for a higher purpose. According to the food recovery hierarchy, food waste uses in order from least to greatest benefit are landfill/incineration, composting, industrial uses, animal feed, and donate to food pantries. Thus, animal feed is the most beneficial use of food not fit for human consumption.

Food waste occurs at many places along the food supply chain – food not harvested, lost during handling/transporting, industrial processing and manufacturing, retail groceries and restaurants, and in the home. Unfortunately, food not harvested or lost during handling/transporting has little chance of being recycled. Food waste from industrial processing and manufacturing sector is already highly recycled with only 5% going to landfills, but 45% of food waste from the retail level and 97% from the consumer level are disposed of into landfills. Over all sectors, recycling into animal feed is the largest (57%) destination of food waste followed by disposal in landfills (28%). Recycling into animal feed reduces the amount disposed into landfills.

One major issue with the use of food waste as animal feed is the variation in nutrient content from batch to batch. The unique digestive system of ruminants allows them to effectively utilize these variable feedstuffs with lesser consequences in performance than monogastric animals. Additionally, ruminants can utilize the wide variety of food waste sources produced in the food supply chain. Even though all livestock sectors use food waste derived animal feed, cattle are a major user because of their unique digestive system and large quantity of feed consumed daily. Thus, cattle contribute significantly to the efficiency and sustainability of the food supply chain.

Figure 1. Estimated amount of U.S. food waste destined for different end points. Adapted from Business for Social Responsibility, 2014

Hoof Care, Water Quality, Kansas Farm Bureau, First Calf Heifers

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Guest: Greg Doering

2:20 Hoof care: foot rot

7:50 Water quality and its importance

15:08 Kansas Farm Bureau: communications

23:16 First calf heifers: keeping them separate

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Heat Stress and Considerations for Fair and Show Season

Bob L. Larson, DVM, PhD
Beef Cattle Institute
Kansas State University

Fair and show season is a fun time of year that provides a great opportunity to compare breeding strategies, to participate in friendly competition with other producers, and to participate in a family activity. However, heat stress is an important concern for cattle exhibited in the summer time. Planning ahead to assure that cattle have access to plenty of water, shade, and airflow is necessary to reduce the risk of heat stress.

Almost every summer, at least some portion of the U.S. suffers from a period of extreme heat and humidity that can cause problems for cattle. As we move into summer, it is important to be prepared to limit the negative effects of heat stress. Cattle are more susceptible to heat stress than humans and can start to have problems if the temperature-humidity index reaches 80 or higher. Factors other than temperature and humidity are also involved with heat stress. These factors include: high body condition, black hide color, rainfall, lack of wind, lack of night cooling, crowding together to avoid flies or for other reasons, and consumption of endophyte-infected fescue.

Rain and high humidity reduces the ability of cattle to use evaporation to get rid of body heat. Evaporation of sweat is one of the primary means that cattle have to cool themselves at temperatures over 70°F. Hot weather immediately following a rain is often associated with heat stress in cattle. In addition, if winds are calm or cattle congregate behind a windbreak or to fight off biting flies, their ability to be cooled is reduced. Night temperatures that remain above 70°F increase the danger of heat stress because needed night cooling does not occur. Cattle that are not used to hot weather are also a greater risk if weather changes rapidly or they are shipped from a cool environment to a much hotter environment.

Another factor that plays a role in heat stress is hide color, with black-hided cattle at greater risk than cattle with light-colored hides. Breed plays a role in that Bos indicus breeds (Brahman and others) handle heat better than do Bos taurus (European) breeds. Show cattle that are not acclimated to a particular climate or that are nearing finished weight are at higher risk of heat stress. Cattle that have eaten endophyte-infected fescue may have increased body temperature and be predisposed to heat stress. Even following removal from endophyte-infected fescue pastures, cattle may continue to experience severe health problems related to summer toxicosis for several weeks.

During periods of heat stress, it is important to have ample water available. When temperatures reach 80 degrees, cattle need two to three gallons of water per 100 pounds of body weight and they must have access to water throughout the day. If cattle must be handled during hot weather, work them from midnight to 8 AM after at least six hours of night cooling. Providing shade to cattle (including show cattle) has been shown to reduce heat stress and to increase feed intake. Shade reduces the heat gain resulting from direct sunlight even when air temperature is not reduced. In a pasture or drylot setting, cattle seek out the coolest spots during periods of heat stress and are unwilling to leave these areas. Shades should therefore be placed over feed and over areas where the producer

wants the cattle to spend time. Shades should have a north-south orientation to allow drying under the shades as the shaded area moves throughout the day.

Air movement is important to dissipate heat. Fans can provide much-needed air flow in a cattle show setting. In pasture settings, it may be necessary to remove or fence off windbreaks during the summer. For cattle confined in a lot, enhance airflow by providing mounds for cattle to stand on. Move cattle away from windbreaks and wind dead spots in the feedlot. Sprinklers can be also used to combat heat stress. In geographic areas where humidity can be high, a large water droplet is required to wet the skin; fine mists or fog systems are not recommended. Sprinklers reduce heat stress by increasing evaporative losses, by reducing ground temperature and reducing radiant heat gain, and by reducing dust. Sprinkling should be done occasionally throughout the day, otherwise high humidity may result and there may be little opportunity for evaporation.

Attending fairs and exhibitions is very enjoyable and has many benefits to the participants. However, do not forget the risks that are taken anytime cattle are placed in a new environment especially if heat stress is a concern.

Feed Efficiency, Feet and Leg Scores, Heat Stress

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Guest: Dr. Jennifer Bormann

3:56 Feed efficiency: cows vs. feeder cattle

12:57 Feet and leg scores

21:30 Heat stress

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!

High Commodity Prices, Drought Management, Implants in Young Calves, Vaccinating in Warm Weather

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3:07 High commodity prices

7:20 Listener question: drought management

14:53 Implants in young calves

24:51 Vaccinating cattle in warm weather

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!

Large Herbivores, Whether Bison or Cattle, are Integral Parts of Grassland Ecosystems

Grasslands and rangelands are an important ecosystem providing food, income for rural families and communities, recreation, wildlife habitat, soil carbon sequestration, plant and animal biodiversity, and water filtration. Thus, grasslands and rangelands contribute to all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social, and economic. Grazing is often assumed to negatively impact the natural ecosystem and that removal of grazing would result in more pristine rangelands. To the contrary, grazing has had minimal effects on plant species richness over long periods of time, e.g., 13 to 65 years. Additionally, lack of grazing created grasslands with greater shrub cover dominated by fewer species. In contrast to plant species, continuous grazing in general has a negative impact on wildlife populations, because different wildlife species require different types of habitat varying widely from tall and dense to short and sparse.

Grassland and rangeland management practices influence the benefits received from these ecosystems. Heavy grazing decreases animal productivity and income for ranchers, increases soil erosion, decreases plant biodiversity which decreases wildlife habitat, and less forage production decreases soil carbon sequestration and water filtration. But, proper grazing management allows 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. And patch burning regimes can be used to direct cattle grazing to specific sites within rangelands further producing numerous habitat structures for diverse wildlife species.

Prior to European settlement, rangelands were ‘managed’ by periodic fire and grazing by wild ungulates (bison, deer, and elk), which function as ecosystem engineers creating a diversity of plants and vegetation structures promoting wildlife habitat. Today, we have smaller areas of privately-owned rangelands interspersed with towns, cities, and cropland rather than wide open expanses for ungulates and fire to roam. And we generally use cattle rather than bison as the primary grazer. Some differences exist between cattle and bison in grazing behavior and how they utilize the landscape, but many of these differences are more a part of human management (fences, lack of predators, etc.) than inherent differences between bison and cattle. The many ecosystem services of grasslands and rangelands can be achieved by managing smaller privately-owned ranches using proper grazing management and fire regimes that promote all three pillars of sustainability.

Bottle Calves, Bringing In Orphans, In-season Breeding Soundness Exam, Grass Feeding

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5:39 Bottle calves

14:45 Bringing in orphans

20:33 In-season breeding soundness exam

24:05 Listener question: grass feeding

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!

Animal Agriculture Research, Replacement Heifers, Generic Antimicrobials, Deworming Strategies

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4:19 Animal agriculture research funding opportunities

9:12  Raising replacement heifers vs. purchasing them

16:16 Generic antimicrobials

24:33 Deworming strategies for internal parasites

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!

Coccidiosis

Bob L. Larson, DVM, PhD
Beef Cattle Institute
Kansas State University

Coccidiosis is an important disease of cattle caused by a small parasite that invades the cells of the intestinal tract and if enough intestinal cells are damaged, diarrhea or bloody-diarrhea can result. You may have heard of other species that also can suffer from coccidiosis, including poultry and swine. However, although most animal species can be infected with coccidia organisms, the specific types that cause disease in other species will not cause problems for cattle – cattle disease is caused by cattle coccidia. Almost all cattle are infected with at least a few coccida organisms, but problems only occur if the parasite can multiply rapidly – usually when cattle are stressed. The stress of weaning, trucking, weather insults such as winter storms or mud, over-crowding, or poor nutrition can all allow individuals or groups of cattle to suffer from coccidiosis.

Recently weaned cattle, particularly if they are exposed to inclement weather or mud and are shipped to a new location are considered to be at high risk for coccidiosis. Young suckling calves can be affected, particularly in situations with poor sanitation, nutritional stress, and other causes of diarrhea. Adult cattle that remain in the herd are usually immune to the local coccidia, but thin cows can be at risk. In addition, bringing in new cattle can cause an outbreak of coccidiosis in the new animals when they are exposed to the local coccidia – or the new animals may bring in a new species of coccidia and cause an outbreak in the original herd.

The most common signs of coccidiosis are watery diarrhea, diarrhea with blood, straining to defecate, a rough hair coat, and poor weight gain. In addition, some affected cattle in a group can show signs of nervous system problems such as tremors, eye twitching, and convulsions. Many cattle with coccidiosis appear healthy but they have decreased weight gain and feed efficiency. Mild cases that involve a few days of watery feces without noticeable blood where the cattle do not become obviously depressed or off-feed are also common. Severe cases with a week or more of bloody diarrhea can lead to a fever, becoming off-feed, and being depressed and dehydrated. If the infection is mild, death is very rare, but in more severe cases, death is fairly common due to coccidiosis itself or the coccidiosis can increase the risk for other severe diseases such as pneumonia. Cattle with nervous system symptoms have a very high risk of death.

Your veterinarian is most likely to diagnose coccidiosis after examining cattle with bloody diarrhea and ruling out other problems. The organism can often be detected in high numbers in fecal samples, but this test is not always accurate because intestinal damage can occur before large numbers of coccidia are found in the feces. In addition, some cattle may have high numbers of coccidia in their feces, but be nearly recovered from the disease and are in much better shape than cattle with few or no organisms earlier in the disease process.

A number of treatments are available for cattle suffering from coccidiosis, and affected cattle should be separated from the group so they can be kept comfortable while being individually treated with fluids to correct dehydration and with drugs that will kill the organism. Whenever one or more cattle in a group have obvious signs of coccidiosis, you can assume that the rest of the group has been exposed and is likely to be suffering less obvious losses.

To prevent coccidiosis, good animal husbandry practices to improve sanitation and reduce stress are important. The organisms survive very well in the environment and it is probably impossible to completely remove them from areas where cattle live. Young animals should be kept in as mud-free an environment as the weather will allow; and feed and water should be kept off the ground as much as possible to minimize fecal contamination. To reduce stress, castration and dehorning should be done at a young age several weeks ahead of weaning, and low-stress weaning strategies should be implemented wherever possible. In addition to management strategies, a number of treatments such as ionophores, decoquinate, or amprolium can be delivered by feed or water to groups of cattle to minimize the risk of severe disease. A month or more of daily intake of these preventative treatments is necessary to break the life-cycle of the organism.

As with many diseases, good sanitation and animal husbandry are important to prevent and control coccidiosis. In addition, your veterinarian can recommend products to treat affected cattle and preventatives that can be used during periods of highest risk for the disease.

Cattle Bloat, US Beef Imports and Exports, Copper and Trace Minerals, Johnes Disease

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.

5:43 Cattle bloat

11:48 US beef imports and exports

18:31 Cooper and other trace minerals

25:15 Listener Question: Johnes Disease vs. BVD

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Brazil Production System, Mineral Selection Plans, Calving Timing, Needle Size

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2:21 Brazil production system

8:36 Mineral selection plans

13:40 Factors influencing calving timing

21:50 Needle size selection and maintenance

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!

Nutritional Technology Impacts Animal Health and Social Sustainability of Beef Production

Animal health and welfare are important components of social sustainability. In the beef industry, bovine respiratory disease complex is likely the largest issue, and also influences antimicrobial stewardship. Nutritional stress when adapting cattle to high grain diets occurs in the form of subacute acidosis predisposing cattle to other health challenges such as bovine respiratory disease. Acidosis occurs from overproduction of lactic acid from rapid fermentation of starch, and the slow adaptation of cattle to a high grain finishing diet is necessary to allow the population of lactic acid utilizing bacteria in the rumen that keep the lactic acid concentration low and rumen pH high.  Subacute rumen acidosis has been linked to the release of lipopolysaccharides from dead bacteria causing inflammation that may predispose cattle to other health issues. Early bovine respiratory disease research indicates that high concentrate starting diets and lack of adequate roughage intake during the receiving period, both of which could result in subacute rumen acidosis, increase the incidence of respiratory disease.

A major lactic acid utilizing bacteria in the rumen is megasphaera elsdenii.  Inoculation of cattle with M. elsdenii when introducing a high starch diet, stabilizes rumen pH, prevents subacute rumen acidosis, and allows stepping cattle up to the finishing diet quicker. Additionally, inoculation of feedlot cattle on arrival can reduce respiratory morbidity, particularly in higher-risk calves, although the number of studies is limited (Figure 1).  Clinical signs of rumen acidosis and respiratory disease are somewhat similar and misdiagnosis can occur. Thus, the reduction in respiratory morbidity could be those calves with rumen acidosis being misdiagnosed as bovine respiratory disease.  But either way, inoculation of cattle with M. elsdenii at arrival can reduce animal disease and antimicrobial use. Nutritional technology plays a role in animal health-improving antimicrobial stewardship and social sustainability.


Figure 1. Prevalence of bovine respiratory disease in calves (1 study) or yearlings (2 studies) receiving megaspheara elsdenii orally at arrival (ME) or not (Control). Data from McDaniel (2009; https://krex.k-state.edu/dspace/handle/2097/1666) and Miller et al. (2013; Bovine Practictioner 47:137)

News Update, BVD, Summer Pasture Utilization, Listener Question

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2:45 News update: African Swine Fever

6:05 Bovine viral diarrhea

15:54 Summer pasture utilization

24:14 Listener question: bulls

BVD Resources
BVD Consult

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Liver Flukes

Bob L. Larson, DVM, PhD
Beef Cattle Institute
Kansas State University

Liver flukes are a large flat worms that can invade the liver of cattle. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that about 5% of slaughtered cattle are infected and their livers are condemned. Liver flukes cause economic loss through liver condemnation at slaughter as well as decreased growth and reproductive efficiency. In addition, Black disease and redwater disease are caused by clostridial bacteria that live in soil (same family as the organism causing blackleg) and if they get a “foothold” in the liver due to damage caused by flukes, these diseases can be fatal.

Because these parasites requires a specific type of water-living snail for some stages of the lifecycle, cattle in many parts of the country are not at risk; but in areas where certain snails are commonly found, a high percentage of adult cows can be infected. Cattle can only be infested by eating snails that have been infected by fluke larva. The most common fluke infesting cattle is Fasciola hepatica. The other common liver fluke is the giant deer fluke or Fascioloides magna.

Cattle most likely to be affected with F. hepatica are those in certain parts of the country that are grazing in low-lying swampy areas, flood irrigation areas, or anywhere that surface water or small, slowly moving streams favor large populations of snails. The snail that serves as the intermediate host of Fasciola hepatica is found in the Gulf Coast states and some western states. The giant deer fluke is a problem in Gulf Coast states, the Great Lakes region and the Pacific Northwest where it naturally infests deer, elk, and moose. Cattle can also become infected with the giant deer fluke and experience liver damage, but this species of fluke cannot fully mature and lay eggs when infecting cattle. In the Gulf Coast states, most fluke transmission occurs between the months of February and June. Transmission stops with the death of fluke eggs, snails, and immature flukes in the first sustained drought of the summer. In the Pacific Northwest, cold winter conditions inhibit snail and fluke reproduction.

Young flukes cause extensive liver damage as they move through the liver, but they are difficult to kill at this stage of the lifecycle. The amount of damage to the liver is related to the number of young flukes migrating through – with some cattle showing few or no signs of problems and other cattle experiencing severe problems such as diarrhea, weight loss, and a yellowing of the membranes around the eyes and vulva in heavily infested cattle. Adult flukes cause very little damage, but are relatively easy to kill with available treatments.

Even though cattle living in many states cannot become infected with flukes, cattle already infected can be transported to any part of the country and be diagnosed far from the source of the flukes. Most cattle infested with liver flukes do not appear unhealthy, and death is very rare. Some mildly infested cattle have no reduction in performance but cattle with a higher level of infestation will have decreased weight gain, poorer body condition, and decreased milk production. The poorer body condition of cows infested with flukes may lead to decreased pregnancy rates. 

Diagnosis often occurs during a necropsy or at slaughter. F. hepatica can sometimes be diagnosed by testing a manure sample, but because fluke eggs are much larger than other cattle parasite eggs, the tests commonly used for other cattle worm eggs may not detect fluke eggs even if they are present. Another problem with relying on manure sample tests to diagnose fluke infections is that flukes less than 2 to 3 months of age are immature and unable to lay eggs. Therefore, cattle can be showing signs of diarrhea and weight loss due to migrating young flukes, but the test will be negative. Even in older infections, few flukes reach adulthood and they pass a small number of eggs – therefore, an animal with a heavy fluke population could have a negative test. Because Fascioloides magna (the giant deer fluke) does not complete its life cycle in cattle, no eggs are produced or passed in the manure, so the only way to diagnose infections with this species is at slaughter or necropsy.

Most dewormers available for treatment of cattle parasites do not affect flukes. Your veterinarian can help you identify one of the available treatments that can be used in fluke infections, but these treatments only are effective against adult F. hepatica flukes (greater than 11 weeks of age) and are almost totally ineffective against Fascioloides magna (giant deer flukes). Timing of fluke treatment is very dependent on your location and grazing pattern, therefore if you live in an area with a risk of liver fluke infection, you should work with your veterinarian to devise an appropriate control plan. Removal of adult flukes will not decrease risk of liver condemnation, because the damage has already been done, but it does enhance performance in severely fluke-infested cattle and may help decrease exposure of snails living in your pastures to the fluke eggs. Prevention in areas of the U.S. that harbor the snails necessary for the liver fluke lifecycle involves draining shallow stagnant ponds, fencing cattle away from shallow bodies of water, or treatment of infested water to remove snails.

Impact of Grazing Season, AI Synchronization, Cow Depreciation, Hair Shedding

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.

1:47 Impact of the Grazing Season Length on Profitability

10:28 Consideration of AI synchronization in Cows

16:36 Listener Question: Documenting Cow Depreciation

24:37 Listener Question: Hair Shedding

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!

War Against Weeds, Weed Management, Grazing Management, Natives vs. Introduced

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Guest: Sarah Lancaster

2:36 War Against Weeds podcast

6:00 Weed management in pastures

17:42 Grazing management

23:49 Natives vs. introduced pastures

War Against Weeds on Apple Podcasts

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!.

Cull Cows, Calving Difficulty, the Transition to Grass, Following Up

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.

2:25 Listener question: cull cows

7:15 Calving difficulty

16:00 Transitioning to grass

22:50 Listener follow-ups

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!.

Sustainability, Calving and Spring Issues, BSE, Bull Management and Genetics

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Guest: Debbie Lyons-Blythe

4:05 Sustainability: where should producers be involved

10:18 Calving and spring issues

15:40 Listener question: bull soundness exam

24:00 Strategic genetic decisions and bull management

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!

Changing the Timing of the Spring Calving Season can Increase Economic Sustainability

Choosing the optimum time to calve beef cows involves thinking through a multitude of factors such as potential for extreme weather, availability of grazed forage, marketing and seasonality of calf prices, and availability of labor. Thirty years ago, the logic used for choosing a calving season focused on maximizing calf nutrient intake. At about 3 to 4 months of age, the calf’s nutrient requirements exceed the cow’s milk production, and thus calf nutrient intake and growth could be increased by coinciding this time with the time of highly nutritious forage. In order to accomplish, cows needed to calve in February and March for most latitudes. However, this results in increased feed costs because lactating cows consume more harvested forages and the nutritive value of harvested forages is generally not adequate to meet the nutrient requirements of early lactation cows. Thus, supplemental feed is usually necessary to keep cows in adequate body condition (≥ 5) prior to breeding to ensure high pregnancy rates.

Matching the calving season with the onset of green pasture synchronizes the high nutrient demands of the cow during early lactation and breeding with the time of maximum forage nutritive value. By doing this, stockpiled forages and crop residues can meet the nutritional requirements of cows through December reducing winter hay feeding. Additionally, cows that calve in synchrony with forage nutritive value do not require supplemental feed to maintain body condition prior to breeding. Figure 1 shows the difference in winter hay and supplemental feed usage and delivered feed costs for cows in a Kansas native range forage system with an average calving date of March 1 or April 15.

Many factors affect the sale price of calves including supply and demand, cost of gain the feedlot, and geopolitical issues, all of which the producer has very little control over. Several analyses of performance and financial records indicate that the most profitable operations are those that have low cost of production, which the produce has more control over. Even though later born calves will be lighter at the same sale date and likely even at the same age, controlling costs can improve net returns. Thus, matching cow requirements with forage nutritive value by adjusting the calving season can increase the economic sustainability of a beef operation.




Figure 1. Estimated winter hay and supplement usage, and delivered feed costs for beef cows with an average calving date of March 1 or April 15. Feed costs are calculated using $60/ton and $200/ton for hay and supplement, respectively.

Hay Feeding, Breeding Soundness Exam, Bull Economics, Extending Grazing Season

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.

2:47 Listener question: hay feeding

9:00 Breeding soundness exam

26:24 Bull economics

24:30 Listener question: extending grazing season

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!