Angus — The Business Breed

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Give Heifers a Good Start for Disease Immunity

Vaccinating heifers before their first breeding season prepares them for a long life in the herd.

It is important to start building good immunity in replacement heifers before they enter the cow herd, and to time their vaccinations appropriately throughout their adult life to keep their immunity strong.

Chris Chase, professor in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at South Dakota State University, says the key factor in heifer development is to get started with vaccinations at a young age.

“The big problem I see with heifers is when people buy them and don’t know their vaccination history. It is important to get a couple doses of vaccine into them before they are bred,” he says. Read more.

Cut Costs with Stockpiled Forages

Stockpiled forages reduce need, cost of hay, supplemental feed.

Stockpiled forages and winter annuals can reduce the need for and cost of hay and other supplemental feed for beef cattle producers in regions with adequate annual rainfall, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

Jason Banta, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist in Overton, said producers can reduce the need for hay and supplements by providing stockpiled forage mid-November through December and winter annuals October through May.

“If they choose these options, we want them to know how to best utilize them,” Banta said. Read more.

Don’t Feed the Fever

Probiotic boosts immunity during the highest times of stress for a calf.

Keeping cattle healthy — and encouraging quicker recovery from illness — helps animals direct their energy toward growth and production. Any disease challenge requires cattle to mount an immune response. In the zero-sum game of livestock production, this means resources are pulled away from building muscle mass or producing milk.

“It’s extremely important for us to provide the animal with the optimal environment and tools to maintain a healthy immune system,” says Ty Schmidt, assistant professor of muscle biology/physiology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. “When we have an animal that mounts an immune response, it has to have enough energy to get the immune system going, fight the infection, then come back and continue producing.” Read more.

Get Ahead of Lice with a Plan to Control the Population

The key to effective lice control is in the timing and application.

The winter of 2016-2017 was a challenge for controlling lice in the beef cow herd. Varying weather conditions may have been the heart of the issue, as it means a critical adjustment in parasiticide application timing.

“The weather the fall of 2016 was mild up through Thanksgiving, so lice didn’t really begin to replicate until early December,” said Jon Seeger, managing veterinarian with Zoetis. “Often, we tend to apply our external parasite-control products in conjunction with other herd events like weaning or pregnancy-checking earlier in the fall. When the lice population exploded, we were past the duration of activity for many products.” Read more.

Frost Brings Concerns

Prussic acid and nitrate poisoning are concerns after a light frost.

Although late October has been very warm and summerlike, the average first frost date for much of the Southern Plains is here. Soon a cold front will bring near-freezing to subfreezing nighttime temperatures.

It was discovered in the early 1900s that under certain conditions sorghums are capable of releasing hydrocyanic acid, commonly called prussic acid. Prussic acid, when ingested by cattle, is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and blocks the animal’s cells from utilizing oxygen. Thus, the animal dies from asphyxiation at the cellular level.

Animals affected by prussic acid poisoning exhibit a characteristic bright red blood just prior to and during death. Lush young regrowth of sorghum-family plants are prone to accumulate prussic acid, especially when the plants are stressed by drought or freeze damage. Light frosts that stress the plant but do not kill it are often associated with prussic acid poisonings. Read more.

The Mystery and Magic of Minerals

Mineral deficiencies and antagonisms play a role in reproductive performance.

Cattle need and want salt. A cow brute will seek and consume the salt needed to satisfy her craving. However, she does not possess the same “nutritional wisdom” regarding other minerals she needs in her diet, according to University of Florida animal scientist John Arthington. A researcher who studies the interactions between nutrition and physiology of cattle, Arthington talked about mineral supplementation during the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle (ARSBC) symposium Aug. 29-30 in Manhattan, Kan.

Focusing on cattle consuming diets consisting of grazed forages, Arthington said trace minerals are often lacking in forages, especially warm-season grasses, in various parts of the country. Minerals also may not be present in balance, such that an excess of one mineral presents an antagonism that inhibits absorption or utilization of a different mineral. Read more.

Cattle Diseases: Common Conditions/Terms

Click here for a list of common conditions and terms related to beef cattle diseases, such as anaplasmosis, brucellosis, BVD, E. coli, IBR and others.

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