There’s no disputing that horses and cattle that receive a well-rounded, complete diet with proper levels of essential nutrients perform better, live longer, and have stronger immune systems. In an ideal world, all of their nutrition would come from the forage or concentrated feeds they are given. This, however, is rarely the case, as forage or grazing quality can vary wildly. There is also the factor that each animal will have different nutritional needs throughout their lives. Filling in the gaps in the regular diet is essential to ensure that they thrive.
Luckily, with the advent of lick tubs, fulfilling these nutritional needs is easier than ever. Here are five reasons you should consider adding lick tubs to your feeding regimen.
Tubs deliver balanced nutrition in small quantities of product. Most tubs are formulated to be consumed at a rate of anywhere from 1/2 lb to 2 lbs per day, depending on brand and formulation. This makes them an economical choice for the smallest farm to the largest cow-calf operation or horse farm. Multiple tub sizes make it possible to ensure that your animals are receiving a product that is consumed in a timely manner.
Tubs allow animals to self-moderate consumption. Good tubs will have a limiter built into them to prevent overeating — particularly molasses-based tubs, where the sweet flavor can be irresistible. That being said, most animals will eat only what their bodies require to sustain a proper energy balance. For instance, you may have noticed that your horse will visit the mineral block more frequently after a strenuous workout. This is because his body is telling him he needs to replenish the minerals and electrolytes lost through exercise. Tubs allow your animals to regulate what they consume when they need it, taking the guesswork out of top-dressing and mixing supplements into rations.
Weather-resistant formulas ensure product quality. A good tub will not be affected by rain, snow, wind or sun, assuring that the nutritional integrity will be preserved. Pelleted and granular feeds can be ruined by any of these weather factors, leading to feed waste and lost money.
Multiple formulations for different regions and life stages. The variety of tubs available allows the specific needs of individuals or groups of animals to be met. For instance, cattle grazing on lower-quality pasture may need extra protein, while nursing cows often need a boost in calcium and fat.
Economical and easy to store. Because tubs have a long shelf life and take up relatively little space, they can become an economical way to supplement horses and cattle. Often times, money can be saved by ordering a larger quantity of tubs and storing them until they’re needed. This also allows for rotation throughout the year, should nutrient requirements change (for example, high energy tubs for colder months and more mineral-dense for hotter months).
As you can see, tubs are a beneficial addition to your feeding regimens. The versatility and ease of use make them a great option for both the large or small livestock operation.
If you’d like to explore adding tubs to your feeding regimen, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
How Weather Affects Your Cattle and Horses’ Stress
Keeping your livestock healthy throughout the year allows your animals to be productive and avoid diseases. Unfortunately, weather conditions can present an obstacle to livestock’s health and well-being. But how exactly do weather changes and fluctuations affect the stress levels of your cattle and horses? What can changes in weather and stress levels mean for your livestock?
To keep your livestock thriving, it’s important to understand how exactly the weather impacts their stress levels and what you can do to help ease the effects of difficult weather conditions.
Body Temperature Regulation: Cattle and Horses
Livestock can regulate their body temperatures like humans, but only so much. The regulation of body temperature is known as thermoregulation. The body uses thermoregulation to avoid cold or heat stress. Because thermoregulation is limited, it’s important to note the weather changes that can impact the body temperature of your livestock.
1. Thermoregulation in Cattle
The body temperature of cattle is affected by their body condition, diet, conditions of their shelter and the thickness of their hair coat. Weather factors, such as wind and humidity, can also influence cattle’s body temperature.
Cattle hair coats vary by breed in terms of color and thickness. The hair coat also affects their ability to release heat through their skin. In a warmer region, cattle with a thick hair coat may be more susceptible to heat stress. Cattle with a thinner hair coat are more likely to be tolerant of higher temperatures in warm regions. Alternatively, cattle with a thinner hair coat may become more stressed in a colder environment.
Cattle body temperature can fall into three zones –– thermoneutral, upper critical (UCT) and lower critical temperature (LCT) zone. At the basal metabolic rate, cattle will be in the thermoneutral zone. So what exactly is the basal metabolic rate? It’s the amount of energy that is expended while cattle are at rest in neutral temperatures.
Neutral temperatures typically fall between 31 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, though this range can vary depending on the breed of cattle and the conditions of their environment. Wind, humidity and cattle hair coat all affect the temperature range that is considered neutral for cattle.
Upper critical temperatures are above the thermoneutral zone and increase the basal metabolic rate. The increased basal metabolic rate results in the body stimulating heat loss to maintain body temperature. When the temperature-humidity index is 80 or above, livestock may suffer from heat stress. Cattle produce little sweat and are not able to dissipate their heat efficiently, so producers often need to take steps to assist cattle with heat dissipation.
Cattle most often fall into the lower critical temperature zone during especially cold months, such as January and February. In LCT, cattle can experience cold stress. The basal metabolic rate increases to produce heat that can maintain or raise body temperature. This means the animal also requires more energy so it can produce heat. Beware of extreme cold stress, which can result in hypothermia.
2. Thermoregulation in Horses
Like cattle, thermoregulation in horses allows these animals to maintain, raise or lower body temperature. Unlike cattle, however, horses are more efficient at discharging heat in hot weather. Despite this, owners should still take measures to help their horses stay cool during hot, humid months. Horses use the following methods to maintain body temperature:
Evaporation of sweat: A horse will produce sweat that then evaporates, cooling the animal down. In a humid climate, sweat may not be able to evaporate, preventing the horse from adequately cooling. Owners can assist with creating a less humid environment for their horses so that evaporation of sweat can occur.
Convection: In this process, heat moves from inside the horse out into the air. Air movement and wind carry heat away from horses. To assist your horses further, especially if there isn’t much wind on a hot, humid day, a fan can be implemented to help move the air.
Direct radiation: Radiant heat comes directly off the horse and isn’t effective when the horse is standing in the sun. Providing them with shade can make the radiant cooling process more effective.
Conduction: Conduction is similar to convection, except that the heat that has built up in the horse’s blood is transferred to the air. On days when the air temperature is especially high, conduction isn’t very effective.
Respiratory loss: Horses can also lose a small amount of heat when they exhale.
To determine whether it is too hot to work your horse, calculate the heat index. Add the temperature in Fahrenheit plus the percent of humidity. The sum is the heat index. If the heat index is less than 120, it is safer to work them. If the heat index is between 120 and 150, use caution when riding or exercising your horse. If the heat index is more than 150, it is important to avoid working them until the heat index has dropped.
10 Signs of Weather Stress in Livestock
How much cold can cows tolerate and how much cold can horses tolerate before they experience weather stress? To keep livestock healthy and productive, you should be aware of the signs of stress. Knowing what to look for means you can improve your livestock’s conditions when the weather is posing extremes that can be detrimental to their health.
Reduced milk production. During hot weather, dairy cows may experience reduced milk production due to stress. Feed intake drops in dairy cattle when temperatures rise, causing milk production to also drop. This decrease in milk production can have a major negative impact on the prosperity of the dairy business, so you’ll want to relieve your cows of weather stress as quickly as possible to ensure continued productivity.
Changes in feed and water intake. In hot weather, cattle may consume less feed. Reduced feed intake can cause ruminal acidosis and decrease the animal’s production of volatile fatty acids. This, in turn, reduces the cow’s energy levels and fat content in its milk. In the heat, cattle and horses may also drink more water to stay hydrated and cool.
Reduced conception rate. Calving alone puts stress on a cow. Combine the stress from calving with weather stress? Lowered fertility and fewer calves.
Rapid respiration rate. Extreme cold weather can result in cold stress. Young animals are particularly susceptible to respiratory issues in cold weather conditions. Horses may also pant when they are dealing with heat stress, so if you are noticing rapid respiration in your cattle or horses, they may be experiencing weather stress.
Standing when other cattle are lying down. When a cow is behaving differently from the other cattle, it’s a sign that something is wrong. A cow that stands while the others are lying down could be experiencing weather stress.
Weight loss. Stressed cattle and horses may also experience weight loss due to a lack of appetite. The weight loss may negatively affect an animal’s ability to stay warm and productive in cold weather.
Frequent urination. Cattle and horses may also urinate more frequently when experiencing weather stress. Animals may urinate frequently to relieve stress or because of increased intake of water. Horses may also produce a greater amount of manure or experience diarrhea.
Weakened immune system. Cold stress, especially prolonged cold stress, can increase the cortisol levels in a cow or horse and weaken the animal’s immune system. Stressed animals are more likely to become ill by contracting infectious diseases. Since diseases may spread quickly to other livestock, this can become a major problem for producers.
Frequent yawning. In horses, frequent yawning may be a sign of stress. Yawning releases endorphins, so frequent yawning could be a coping mechanism for your horse as it combats stress.
Rapid heart rate and excessive sweating. If you notice a rapid heart rate in your cow or horse, the animal may be suffering from heat stress. Trembling is a similar sign of weather stress that may appear in cattle and horses, especially if they are trembling in an ordinary situation without a stressful trigger, such as transportation or a visit from the veterinarian. Heat stress may also cause horses to sweat excessively.
Weather effects on horses can also cause lower productivity and cause poor health. High-performance horses and foals are particularly vulnerable to heat stress. Additional signs to watch out for include:
Little or no sweat production
Dry, hot skin
Abnormally high rectal temperatures (99-101°F is the normal range)
To determine whether a horse is dehydrated due to heat stress, pinch the skin on the horse’s neck. The skin should spring back to its original position. If not, your horse could be dehydrated.
Extreme weather stress can put your animal’s health and even life at risk, so watch out for these signs and take action as soon as possible if you believe your animal is experiencing weather stress.
How Do I Cool Down Livestock?
In hot weather, animals perform some temperature control methods on their own. Cattle may stand in water or crowd together under a shady tree. You can also take action to keep your animals cool.
1. How Do You Cool Down Cattle?
If you’re concerned about your cattle dealing with heat stress, there are a few steps you can take to give them some relief.
You can provide more ventilation. Because cattle don’t produce much sweat, airflow is critical to keep their body temperature from getting too high in hot weather. When the animals are in a confined area, set up large fans that can remove stale or stagnant air. Increased air flow will allow cattle to properly discharge excess body heat.
You can use misters or foggers. Mist systems combined with powerful airflow are effective in cooling animals off. Misters or foggers can be much more effective and efficient than trying to cool the environment around the cattle.
You can supplement your cow’s diet. Cows consume less feed in hot weather, which can reduce a cow’s energy levels and the fat content in its milk. You may want to supplement the cow’s diet to reduce heat stress. A supplement like CattlActive® can neutralize acids, boost energy and lactation and even help cows produce higher-quality milk.
2. How Do You Cool Down Horses?
High temperatures and humidity, poor ventilation, lack of airflow and exposure to direct sunlight can also result in heat stress in horses. Owners can use a few strategies to help horses stay cool in hot weather and climates:
Exercise conditioning: If you’ll be competing, it’s important to condition animals in the environmental and weather conditions that are similar to the conditions you anticipate in your competition setting.
Monitor for heat stress: On a daily basis, check for heat stress in your horses. Monitoring your horses will help you notice their cooling needs as soon as an issue arises. You can then take immediate action.
Allow horses to acclimate: When introducing your horses to new, warmer environments, give the animals a chance to acclimate. You may want to allow up to a few weeks for acclimation.
Clip the winter coat: Clipping a horse’s winter coat can improve the dissipation of heat from the horse during exercise. Clipping has the added benefit of also making grooming the horse easier. Use a blanket in the winter to keep the horse warm.
Use these strategies to help keep your livestock cool in hot weather.
How Do I Warm Up Livestock?
In cold weather, you may find livestock huddling together in low spots to keep warm and avoid the wind.
How Do Cows and Horses Stay Warm in Winter?
In preparation for the winter months, cattle and horses grow long, coarse hair to keep their bodies warm. When the hair gets wet, it can become more difficult for the hair to trap warm air. Cattle and horses can get cold in the rain; they can benefit from shelter so that their hair can dry after being exposed to moisture.
Livestock will also consume more feed to help build body fat stores and create energy, which will insulate them from the frigid weather and allow them to produce more body heat. You’ll also probably see them crowding together in a field to share body heat.
How Do You Keep Cows Warm?
When it comes to wintering cattle outside, there are steps you can take to help cattle stay warm.
Allow for communal living: Cattle can huddle together to keep each other warm. Try to arrange for each animal to have at least one or two others they can huddle next to in cold conditions.
Provide shelter: Protect your cows from precipitation and the wind by providing shelter they can easily access. If barn-kept, the space should also allow for proper ventilation to avoid the buildup of moisture.
Provide dry, clean bedding: Clean out waste regularly so that the bedding is dry and put down fresh bedding after cleaning.
How Do You Keep Horses Warm?
There are a few steps you can take to keep your horses warm in cold weather.
Provide shelter: To keep horses warm, provide them with a shelter that can protect from wind, rain and snow. The shelter you provide should minimize moisture and drafts. Ideally, horses should have a shelter they can access at any time.
Use blankets: You can also use horse blankets to keep your animals warm. Be sure the blanket fits correctly and that you remove it every day to check for sores or irritation. You should also use different types of blankets for different weather conditions. If your horse may be exposed to moisture, provide them with a blanket that not only is waterproof but wicks away moisture from the body.
Adjust diet: You can also adjust a horse’s diet. Increased body fat will allow them to stay warm in cold weather and the added calories will give them more energy to produce heat.
Weather fluctuations can have a significant impact on the stress levels among livestock. You can stay ahead of the weather to keep your livestock comfortable by referring to a heat index map. Another great option for helping your livestock avoid weather stress is by providing them with CattlActive® or Zesterra®. CattlActive® and Zesterra® can help regulate the stomachs and PH balances of cattle and horses and help them become more resilient to stress caused by extreme heat or cold.
To help maintain your livestock’s health and wellness, you can browse our products at Pro Earth Animal Health today.
Nutrition is the cornerstone of any healthy, thriving horse. The best feed for your horse optimizes its natural digestive system to get the most nutrients to match its current needs. As horses mature they have changing nutritional requirements throughout their lives. What impacts a horse’s dietary requirements? The amount of work, age, weight, gender, stress level and pregnancy status all affect the caloric requirements for horses.
The digestive system of a horse includes the foregut and hindgut. The foregut contains enzymes to break down starches, proteins and fats. Both the small intestine and stomach are in this portion of the digestive tract. The hindgut is where microbes break up fiber from the roughage the animal consumes. Included in the hindgut are the remaining organs used for digestion — cecum, large and small colons and the rectum.
How Long Does It Take for a Horse to Digest Food?
These animals require 45 to 72 hours for feed to pass entirely through their digestive system. The types of horse feed and the animal’s health may affect the time it takes for digestion.
What Is a Typical Diet for an Adult Horse?
A horse’s usual diet depends on five types of nutrients, including ample amounts of water, starches from grains, fiber from hay, vitamins and minerals. The bulk of the animal’s diet comes from carbohydrates, with fats and proteins also contributing energy. Fats provide fuel, but limit them to no more than 10% of the intake. Proteins help build muscle, hair, skin and hooves.
Tips for Improving Horse Nutrition
Feeding your animal well requires a balance of nutrients, energy and water. Here are some helpful tips for feeding horses that will boost nutrition and health.
1. Provide Ample Clean, Fresh Water
Water is vital to the well-being of all creatures. ON average a horse can drink 10 gallons daily, but this amount can double in hot weather or when the animal exerts itself. Always provide plenty of clean water, even in cold weather. Keep in mind that you may need a heater to prevent water from freezing in the winter.
2. Keep Grains at a Minimum
The arrangement of the digestive system illustrates how much horses need balance in their feed. Too much grain promotes gas in the hindgut because the starches in the grains break down in the foregut. Once they pass through the hindgut, the microbes there take in the remainder of the carbohydrates and produce gas as a byproduct. Excessive levels of gas can lead to discomfort and even colic. To avoid this situation, feed your horse a balance of grains and fibrous hay to promote motility and prevent gas in the hindgut.
3. Boost Forage Intake
Fiber from grass or hay should equal between 1 and 2.5% of a horse’s weight. This high amount of fiber helps the animal’s digestive system operate at its best. For a 1,000-pound horse, this translates to approximately 20 pounds of hay daily, with added grains based on the amount of exertion the animal experiences, in addition to body condition. Animals that do not work may consume up to 25 pounds of hay each day with no supplemental grains (as always, consult with your veterinarian for advice on adjusting your horse’s intake). There is a relatively straightforward formula for how to estimate a horse’s body weight without a scale, based on heart girth and body length measurements.
4. Match Types of Feed to Exercise
Exercise will dictate the additional amount of grain or concentrated feed your horse needs. If your horse does not work, it may not require the additional calories provided by grain. For light work, up to two hours a day, your horse may benefit from an extra one to one and a half pounds of grain per hour of effort. For two to four hours of work, some experts recommend allotting up to two pounds of supplemental grain or concentrate per hour of work. Heavy working horses that do more than four hours of work may require significantly higher levels of concentrated feed or grain to help achieve the animal’s caloric needs.
5. Know What the Body Condition Score Is for Your Horse
While your horse’s weight is essential for knowing how much to feed it, the body condition score is also critical. What is the body condition score, and why is it important? This measurement looks at the amount of fat under the skin at specific locations on the animal’s body. You can learn to measure your horse’s body condition score yourself through classes that walk you through the process. The average ideal body condition score is five, but the best value for your horse will depend on its breed and what it does. Talk to your vet if you need advice about your animal’s body condition.
6. Don’t Make Abrupt Changes
Horses digest food over two to three days, which means changes in the feed may not cause problems immediately. If you must change your animal’s feed, do so slowly to avoid digestive troubles and upset.
Inside the animal’s hindgut are bacteria that help it digest the feed it usually consumes. Specific bacteria help break down certain things. Suddenly changing feed means the gut bacteria will not be able to properly digest the animal’s new diet and the microbial balance will be thrown off.
Change the feed by no more than 25% every other day to avoid digestive problems. Doing so gives your horse a week for its digestive system to acclimate to the new diet.
7. Account for Life Changes
Not all horses eat the same amount or mixture. Be ready to make changes throughout the animal’s life to mirror its changing nutritional needs. For example, there are different dietary recommendations for horses in the first years of their lives than for seniors. Pregnant and lactating mares also need specific diets to meet their needs.
Exercise also changes the amount of energy your horse needs. Make changes to allow for extra nutrition when your animal does more exercise. When it works less, it will need less feed. Adjusting feed levels to match the work levels keeps your animal at a healthy weight while giving it the energy it needs for its work.
8. Help the Horse Through Stressful Times
Every horse experiences stress at times during its life. Sudden changes in exercise, travel, too much time in the stall, pregnancy and other life events can result in stress. Horses under stress can develop ulcers or have other digestive problems. During such times, you can supplement your horse’s feed to reduce the chances of developing ulcers and help the animal use nutrition from its diet more efficiently. Such dietary amendments can help your horse wade through stressful times without severe consequences.
9. Supplement With Vitamins
When feeding hay to horses, you likely won’t know the exact nutrient makeup of the feed. Wet and older hay may have fewer vitamins than fresh hay. To keep your animal from developing vitamin deficiencies, supplement its diet by adding vitamins and minerals to its feed. Talk to your equine vet about specific vitamin supplements to use to ensure your animal gets the nutrients it needs based on its dietary requirements and the available vitamins in the area’s pastures.
10. Watch out for Mineral Ratios
Like vitamins, minerals make up a minute amount of the animal’s diet, but they provide critical roles in the functioning of the animal’s internal systems. Your horse will naturally regulate the amount of salt it takes in based on what it needs. However, you’ll need to ensure your animal gets calcium and phosphorus in the right proportions. At the very least, provide your animal with an even one-to-one ratio of calcium to phosphorus. A better balance, though, is two-to-one calcium to phosphorus to ensure your horse makes the most of these valuable minerals. Having too much calcium in the diet reduces the amount of phosphorus your horse can use.
Feed Considerations for Pregnant Mares
Pregnant mares have unique nutritional needs in addition to dietary requirements to support their growing fetus. Nutritional recommendations for mares carrying fetuses include both energy for the mother and enough to support an expected growth curve of the fetus.
The amount you feed your mare during its pregnancy will change during each trimester. While during the first two trimesters, your broodmare will need enough food to support her body weight, by the third, she will need 30% more feed than she had before carrying her fetus.
Mares will require even more feed if the third trimester falls during colder months when she does not have access to pasture and needs fuel to stay warm while the fetus rapidly reaches its peak size. A body condition score of six for broodmares before winter allows them enough body fat to stay warm through the winter and draw energy from if needed.
How Does a Horse’s Age Impact Their Nutritional Requirements?
Among the things that impact a horse’s diet is age. Young, growing weanlings and yearlings have higher and different nutrient needs than mature animals. Older animals will have dietary requirements that help support any age-related health conditions they developed.
Foals, especially, need an appropriate balance of calcium to phosphorus to ensure adequate bone and teeth development. Ratios may range from three-to-one to one-to-one. Talk to your vet about their recommendations for your young foal’s mineral needs.
Amino acids are also crucial to growing foals. These substances build protein in the body. Overall, these young animals need 14% to 16% of their diet from protein, which is more than adults. The only specific amino acid intake requirements for yearlings and weanlings is lysine. The former group needs 2.1 g/Mcal/day, while the latter group needs slightly less at 1.9 g/Mcal/day.
Pay attention to the yearling’s and weanling’s feed during the first two years. The animal will grow rapidly, reaching 86% of its adult weight by age 2. During the first year, feed yearlings an even 50-50 mixture of concentrate and hay. After age 2, switch your horse to an adult diet of hay and supplemental concentrate or grain, based on activity level.
For adult horses, allow ready access to forage and up to 25 pounds of hay daily with added grain or concentrate as a supplement. Changes in adult diets depend on whether the animal works more or is in the breeding season.
Older horses engage in less activity, but due to changes in digestion ability, they require higher protein levels, 12% to 14%, to ensure adequate absorption. Dental health and existing health problems will affect how much your senior horse eats. Fats are also necessary to help hard keepers maintain body condition. If your horse has any conditions that require special nutritional needs, talk to your vet about a customized diet.
Offer multiple small meals throughout the day to your older horse. A rule of thumb is to limit feed to five pounds at each meal, and isolate older animals, so younger ones do not chase them off. Select easily digestible and chewed feed designed for older animals, and consider supplementing it with an aid that promotes proper pH of digestive enzymes.
Mares vs. Stallions
Mares and stallions will have different nutritional needs during the breeding season. Females will require feeding based on the needs of broodmares while carrying a fetus. Stallions will also need extra energy, but not as much as you might think.
For feeding a stallion, make sure to maintain the animal’s condition, regardless of the season. During non-breeding times, the stallion can meet his energy requirements by eating forage and hay. The animal will need more energy during the breeding season, as well as possible mineral and vitamin supplementation to ensure fertility.
In the breeding season, a stallion increases his energy requirements by 20%, but only eats 10% more feed. To ensure the animal has enough to keep up his energy requirements, supplement his feed with concentrates. Give the horse vitamins A and E, because the stallion will need 50% more of these vitamins when breeding. Consider adding selenium and manganese to the animal’s diet if he is deficient in these, which could drop fertility.
Maintaining your breeding horses during the season can ensure success and a future of foals.
Supplement Your Horse’s Feed With Zesterra®
When you want to care for your animal’s health and nutrition, supplement its diet with a product that encourages water intake, raises pH and promotes the proliferation of healthy bacteria in the hindgut. To support the nutrient requirements for your horses at all stages of life, consider supplementation with Zesterra®.
Zesterra® helps your animal through stressful times. It also promotes natural healing of conditions such as ulcers. With an all-natural blend of ingredients, this product gives your horse’s digestive system the boost it needs to extract as many nutrients from food as possible, making it an ideal supplement for older animals or those that experience stress. To get answers to any questions you have about our products, including Zesterra®, contact us online.
At least a few times a week we get this inquiry — why did my Zesterra® darken since I bought it? This is a perfectly valid question — after all, in most cases, when the color of food or even things like toiletries shifts, it can be a sign of spoilage.
So, does a deeper shade of amber in Zesterra® herald its imminent demise? Luckily, no.
The reason behind that color change comes down to plain chemistry. Because we don’t use preservatives, the all-natural apple flavoring starts to go through a process known as oxidation. Just like when you cut open an apple and it immediately starts to take on a brown hue, so too does the apple flavor in Zesterra®.
But how? Apples contain an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase (also known as PPO), which, when released by damage to the tissue and consequent oxygen exposure, oxidize the polyphenols.
The other part to these inquiries usually involves shelf life. Zesterra has a 5-year shelf life and is incredibly stable — most of us keep a bottle in our trucks or trailers, our tack rooms and in our houses. If it freezes overnight because you forgot it out on the porch, that shouldn’t be a problem. Nor should leaving it in the hot truck for a few days.
Obviously, as with anything, we suggest you exercise common sense. If your Zesterra smells “off” or has become particularly thick or gloppy, it may be time to retire it. These problems are usually associated with contamination so it really shouldn’t be used anyway.
While this is just a quick overview, as always, please don’t ever hesitate to contact us with questions. We pride ourselves on being able to offer you solid answers based on facts and our own personal experiences with our products.
Ranchers who want to know how to improve the profitability of cow-calf operations must understand how many factors play into the costs and earnings of this endeavor. It is possible to turn a profit from raising beef cattle, but producers need to provide everything for the animals until their sale. When an operation is small, though, every dollar spent must be an investment in the overall cattle production.
The USDA Economic Research Service collates data for various farm products across the country. The average cost of maintaining cattle from 2008 through 2018 was $562.23 per head. Adding the overhead costs of running a ranch, the total rises to $1,374.45 per head. Operating costs factored into this maintenance price per animal were graze feed, fed feed, purchased feed, harvested feed, vet bills, medicine, bedding, marketing, lube, fuel, electricity, repairs and interest on costs.
Costs of raising cattle are not stagnant. While operating expenses have slightly increased overall since 1996, in some years, the price tag was much higher. For example, in 2014, the operating costs per cow reached a high of $628.47 per head. That year, though, overhead budgets, including pasture maintenance costs, were lower, bringing the total to just a dollar below 2018’s total, $1,375.63. The real factor behind rising costs for cattle ranchers has appeared in overhead expenditures, which more than doubled from $387.24 in 1996 to $812.22 in 2018. To make up for these rising overhead costs, the rancher must do everything possible to improve the profitability per animal.
Producers typically have small herds. Just under half, 45.6%, of all beef cows came from farms with fewer than 100 cattle. Fewer cows correlate to spending less time on beef production. Those with fewer than 50 cows averaged only 28.6% of their time in caring for the operation, whereas 47.3% of those with farms up to 100 cows did. These numbers still relate to cattle producers spending a minority of time raising their animals, which means a smaller margin of error in things that improve profitability.
Profitable cattle ranching, though, is a possibility, with a mixture of skill and luck. The factors affecting profitability fall into two categories: those that are under the producer’s control, and those that are not. When ranchers make the most of changeable factors, they will help offset issues beyond their control, such as weather or increased feed costs.
When it comes to profits, several factors are under the ranchers’ control, while others are not. Understanding the factors behind ranch operations that influence earnings and debt-to-equity ratio, a producer will be able to change the profits from the ranch.
1. Percent of Mothers Weaning a Calf
Choosing when to cull females that fail to produce calves affects the amount of feed used throughout the year, as well as income earned. Ideally, ranchers want to maximize the number of females weaning calves, which will increase operations profits from sales of young animals. Females that do not produce a calf use resources without generating income in the form of a saleable calf. Early culling of females without calves can positively affect operating costs.
2. Calves’ Weaning Weight
The weight at which a producer weans calves determines those animals’ final selling price. When to wean calves is a decision that rests solely on the shoulders of the rancher, who must balance the calves’ health and weight to the milk production, pasture conditions and age. Weaned calves and culled low-fertile females account for the majority of income in operations, both of which the rancher directly influences without external forces.
3. Overall Cow Nutrition
Keeping up with the nutrition of cattle helps them gain weight as needed. Heavier calves that stay healthy can sell for higher prices. The cost of feed, though, impacts operations. How many acres needed per cow and the ranch size affect the total amount spent on raising the animals. Across all cow-calf operation sizes, the majority, 93.7%, owned their land for cattle grazing.
4. Cattle Stress
Cattle stress can significantly impact the health of animals in a herd, which ties to cow-calf profits. Separation and handling stress can occur at weaning for the calves and at birth for the mothers. Reducing stress does more than keep the animals happy. Less stressed cattle have healthier immune systems, and vaccines work better because excessive stress levels negatively impact the effectiveness of immunizations.
5. Price Received for Weaned Animals
While market conditions will influence the amount received for weaned animals, some aspects of the price fall within the rancher’s influence. Selecting the best cattle with marketable attributes for raising can help when working toward profitable cattle ranching. Beyond keeping the animals healthy and reaching a good weight, there is little else a rancher can do to affect the price received for weaned calves.
The environment plays a direct factor in the percentage of weaned calves. Longer or shorter winters can cause minor fluctuations in the rates, but other environmental factors also play a role. Air pollution and mineral depletion in the soil can affect the health of cows and their calves.
For example, in Montgomery County, Tenn., the soil already lacks adequate copper and selenium. Forage for cow-calf operations did not have enough of these minerals. The problem increased when nearby coal plants started burning sulfur-containing fuel that bound what little copper and selenium the cows had available. The weaning rate in this area is only 78%. Adding cattle supplements to feed with the lacking minerals can help the problem as long as the practice remains economically feasible.
The breeds of cattle used can also affect the weaning rate and profitability. For instance, in Florida, weaning rates have dropped because operators prefer using single-breed animals instead of crossbreeds. The crossbred cattle could improve weaning rates by creating herds better adapted to the environmental challenges of heat, humidity and low-quality forage. Producers do not seek such opportunities, however, due to the higher costs of choosing better-bred animals.
While economically, in Florida, choosing more crossbreeds may not make economic sense, it could improve operations in other parts of the country by selecting cows that have more natural abilities to thrive in the local environment.
By selectively crossbreeding cows to be superior to their parents, weaning rates and productivity can both improve. Maternal heterosis offers the cheapest, most effective means of increasing weaning rate without breaking the budget. With better weaning rates, profits may increase, depending on the region.
Tips for Improving the Profitability of Cow-Calf Operations
When it comes to changing how much ranchers make per cow, keeping the animals healthy is key. But other factors will help producers find what is the most profitable way to raise cattle for beef production. Pricing, animal stress, nutrition and weaning are among the factors that can help raise profit margins.
1. Maintain Animal Health
Keeping up animal health reduces the costs of treating sick cows and the economic loss of lower-weight cows and deaths.
Part of ensuring the long-term health of cows requires preventing diseases. For large-scale cow-calf producers, vaccinations are standard. Farms of between 100 and 199 cows reported 95.9% of them vaccinated their herds, while 92.1% of producers with over 200 cows inoculated their animals. Compare that to only 59.4% of small-scale producers with fewer than 50 cows that vaccinated. Vaccinating animals can help boost their immune systems and protect them from diseases such as shipping fever, also called bovine respiratory disease. Against this specific condition, only 26.3% of producers with up to 49 cows vaccinated, while 82% of operations with over 200 animals did.
Vaccinating against preventable diseases may add to the costs of raising the cows, but it can prevent loss from animal death and lower-weight cows that sell for less. Because each animal contributes a higher percentage to the total profits earned, small-scale producers must do everything possible to maintain animal health.
Hiring a local veterinarian to assess and help maintain the herd’s health may be an investment, but it can provide access to vaccinations and give the producer advice on diseases that could affect the health of the cows.
2. Reduce Cattle Stress
Cows and calves experience significant levels of stress at various times during the seasons. At birth and during weaning, both calves and their mothers see high levels of stress that can affect their health. To ensure the healthiest herd, inoculating cows against disease, providing quality feed and giving freshwater are not the only things that will help cows live their healthiest lives.
Reducing stress in cows requires them to eat and drink enough to keep up their nutrition requirements. When cows experience ruminal acidosis, supplementing their diet with CattlActive® can help the pH balance of rumen in their digestive systems, which can help them eat enough to recover from stressful times. When cows have low stress, their immune systems will work more efficiently and swiftly.
3. Make Birthing and Weaning Changes
In some regions with lower weaning rates, such as Florida, shortening the weaning season could help. For instance, removing cows that do not produce as well and reducing Florida’s standard weaning season of 120 to 180 days could lead to an improvement in weaning rate from 82% to 85% in three years.
In other parts of the country, such as the Midwest, breeding cows earlier to produce heavier weaned calves influences profits. California, however, already has a high weaning rate and particular problems with its herds to warrant maintaining its current status quo.
Even for small-scale operators who do not have specific weaning seasons, controlling the herd and making decisions based on maximizing its economic value are essential. Culling non-pregnant or low-fertile females early will prevent the extra cost of feeding and maintaining them throughout the year. The earlier producers can cull open cows, the more money they can save and the higher the profits from the operation.
4. Offer Adequate Nutrition
Offering adequate nutrition to cattle ensures they stay at a healthy weight to re-breed. When cows do not have an optimum body condition score (BCS) after giving birth, they will be less likely to have a successful breed back. To maintain nutrient levels, farmers must recognize the higher nutritional needs of cattle just before giving birth and while lactating. Meeting these needs through adjusting the feed for the animals will keep the cows from losing weight.
Changing food availability and nutrient needs can stress an animal’s digestive system, which relies on balance. Signs of digestive problems such as acidosis include weight loss, refusal to eat or drink, unusual behavior, high pulse rate and lethargy. These symptoms necessitate immediate action to prevent permanent damage to the health of the animal. Re-regulating the system with supplementation can help the cow’s digestive system to restore itself.
When the animals have enough nutrition, they will produce healthier calves and be more likely to continue breeding in the future.
5. Choose Forward Pricing
Forward pricing allows farmers to set a price above the break-even point. Regardless of what happens in the market later in the season when the sales occur, the amount agreed upon at the beginning of the season stands. A minority of operators, 2.3%, with up to 49 cattle use this strategy. Among operators with 50 to 99 cows, 3.1% chose forward pricing. Large-scale operations, though, select this option more often, accounting for 15.4% of operators.
Selling larger lots of cows can also increase pricing and make buyers more likely to purchase from a single group. Having a large lot with several uniform calves can improve the selling price, increasing profits.
The downside to choosing forward pricing is the legally binding nature of this pricing system. Farmers must promise a set number of cows for delivery at the agreed-upon price. As long as producers keep up with the health and reproduction of the cows, the guaranteed number of cows should be ready at sale time.
6. Sell Higher-Value Calves
Choosing animals that will fetch a higher price will affect profits. The breeds sold depend on the region of the country, but crossbreeds often sell at a premium price compared to single-breed animals. For example, in Florida, compared to the usual Brahman/Angus mix, an Angus crossed with Hereford gets $5.76 more.
Calves with horns negatively affect the price because the horns can damage the animals and require the additional cost of removal. Polling or dehorning calves can improve their selling price.
When cows give birth to male calves, producers must choose whether to castrate the animals. Steer calves sell for more at auction, at an average of $8 to $10 more, compared to heifers. Bulls do not sell for as high a price as steer calves. Castrating males will improve the amount received at auction.
Discover How CattlActive® Can Help
Cattle stress can affect the health and well-being of each animal maintained. CattlActive® has a palatable formula that encourages cows to eat and drink by neutralizing the acid. Once a cow begins regularly consuming healing feed, both its stress levels and overall health can improve. Through this all-natural formula, producers can see better gains in the cattle as the animals increase their nutrient intake. Make a purchase or get answers to questions from us. For more information, ask one of our consultants.
What is a ruminant? Ruminant animals are set apart from other mammals by their complex digestive systems. The way they process food, absorb nutrients and gain energy is different from other herbivores.
The main distinction in a cow’s digestive system, or a ruminant digestive system is that the stomach has four separate compartments, each with a unique function, whereas most other animals only have a single compartment with a unified functionality.
The four compartments allow ruminant animals to digest grass or vegetation without completely chewing it first. Instead, they only partially chew the vegetation, then microorganisms in the rumen section of the stomach break down the rest. Animals with singular stomach compartments — known as a monogastric digestive system — do not have the same capability.
Many different animals have this unique four compartment stomach type of digestive system, including:
These animals convert plant matter and vegetation into useable energy more efficiently than other herbivores.
In cattle and dairy cows, the development, pH balance, functionality and bacteria levels of the digestive system are crucial to maintaining overall health and high yield.
While some parts of the ruminant digestive system are similar to those of non-ruminant systems, several essential components perform the necessary functions for digestion.
While the ruminant digestive tract operates differently from the monogastric system, it is composed of the same six basic components:
The mouth is where the process begins. Cattle will graze by wrapping their tongues around plants and tearing, pulling them into their mouth for mastication. They chew first with the lower jaw incisors, working against a hard dental pad on the front part upper palate, then second with the molars, grinding plant material down further. Chewing stimulates saliva production and the saliva mixes with plant matter before the animal swallows. Saliva contains enzymes capable of breaking down fats and starches and helps to buffer the pH levels in the reticulum and rumen segments of the stomach. Mature cattle will swallow from 50 to 80 quarts daily to aid in digestion, but the amount varies based on how much time they spend chewing.
When the cattle swallows the plant material and saliva mix, it will travel down the esophagus to the rumen. The esophagus performs the swallowing action through waves of muscle contractions, moving the feed down. It has a bidirectional function, meaning it can move feed from the mouth to the stomach or from the stomach to the mouth. Cattle need the latter to regurgitate “cud,” or the under-chewed plant matter and grain, back up to the mouth for further grinding. Once the cow is finished chewing the cud, it again swallows the matter back down to the stomach.
Generally, the stomach functions to further break down plant matter and grain. More specifically, there are four sections of the stomach — rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum — each with a particular job to do. These sections store chewed plant material and grain, absorb nutrients and vitamins, break down proteins, aid in beginning digestion and dissolve material into processable pieces. The next section will focus more closely on the responsibilities and functions of each stomach compartment.
4. Small Intestine
The small intestine has three main sections — the duodenum, jejunum and ileum — that work together to complete most of the actual digestive process. In the duodenum, the section connected to the stomach, secretions from the gallbladder and pancreas mix with the partially digested matter. This process balances the pH in the intestine, ensuring the digestive enzymes work correctly. The jejunum section is lined with small, finger-like projections known as villi, which increase the intestinal surface area and absorb nutrients. The ileum absorbs vitamin B12, bile salts and any nutrients that passed through the jejunum. At the end of the ileum is a valve, preventing any backward flow of materials. Throughout the small intestine, muscular contractions move the matter forward. In a fully mature cow, the entire organ may be up to 150 feet long and has a 20-gallon capacity.
Sitting between the small and large intestines is a three-foot-long pouch called the cecum. It has little function besides providing storage and a transition between the two intestines, but it does aid in the continual breaking down of material. The cecum has about a two-gallon holding capacity.
6. Large Intestine
Smaller in length but larger in diameter than the small intestine, the large intestine is the final step of the digestive process. It absorbs remaining water and contains bacteria microbes that finish digestion and produce vitamins the animal needs to grow and remain healthy. Its last job is to eliminate any undigested and unabsorbed food from the system in the form of waste.
When the cow is properly handled and fed, this process continually occurs, keeping the animal healthy and at the right weight. The entire digestion process should take anywhere from one to three days.
If something interrupts this process or the cattle is unhealthy, the sections will no longer be able to function as well as they should, causing diseases and complications.
The Four Components of a Cattle’s Stomach
Of the six components in the cattle’s digestive system, the most important part is the stomach. A ruminant animal’s stomach has four distinct compartments, each with its specific function. These compartments are:
The rumen, also known as the “paunch,” is the first area of the cow’s stomach, connected to the cattle’s esophagus. This compartment acts as storage for chewed vegetation and forms balls of cud. Cud consists of large, non-digestible pieces of plant matter that must be regurgitated, chewed a second time and swallowed before continuing through the process. The rumen absorbs nutrients through papillae of the rumen wall and facilitates fermentation, creating the rumen bacteria and rumen microbes necessary to break down and digest the proteins in feed. Microorganisms in the rumen are responsible for digesting cellulose and complex starches, as well as synthesizing protein, B vitamins and vitamin K. As a storage area, it can hold up to 40 gallons of material. The rumen, combined with the reticulum, makes up 84% of the volume of the entire stomach. A few common health issues with the rumen include bloat, which occurs when a cow can’t eradicate a buildup of gas, acidosis and rumenitis, which occur when low pH balance allows for high acid production. These can be prevented by managing and paying attention to cattle’s food and water intake.
The reticulum is frequently referred to as the “honeycomb,” because the inner lining appears like and is structured similar to a honeycomb. While it does have its independent functionality, the reticulum is attached to the rumen with only a thin tissue divider. This component holds heavy or dense objects — such as metal pieces and rocks — and trap large feed particles that are not small enough to be digested. The reticulum facilitates regurgitation. Both the rumen and reticulum contain digestive bacteria, so no acid is included in the regurgitation of materials. The reticulum holds about 5 gallons of material. One common health issue involving the reticulum is hardware disease, which occurs when cattle ingest heavy or sharp objects — like nails, screws or wire. They are swept into the reticulum and may puncture the stomach wall. This disease is preventable by putting magnets on feeding equipment to catch any metal, or cured by the placement of an intraruminal magnet that traps already swallowed objects.
The globe-shaped omasum is nicknamed “manyplies” because of its internal structure. It is lined with large leaves and folds of tissue that resemble the pages of a book. These folds absorb water and nutrients from feed that passes through after its second round of chewing. The omasum is smaller than the rumen and reticulum, making up about 12% of the stomach’s total volume. It can hold up to about 15 gallons of material.
The abomasum is the last component of the stomach and is often known as the “true stomach,” because it operates the most similar to a non-ruminant stomach. This true stomach is the only compartment of the stomach lined with glands. These glands release hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes to help the abomasum further break down feed and plant material. In comparison to the other chambers, the abomasum is on the smaller side, representing about 4% of the total stomach volume and only holding about 7 gallons of material.
Each of these components is vital in maintaining a healthy digestive process. They must cooperate quickly and efficiently to turn grain and plant matter into energy for the cattle. If one section becomes incapable of performing or ceases to work correctly, it will affect all of the other functions in the digestive system.
Because the rumen is the largest area of the stomach and the section that focuses on reducing feed to be passed through the digestive process, it is crucial that it is properly developed and remains healthy.
The Development of the Rumen Compartment of the Stomach
The ruminant system relies very heavily on the rumen segment of the stomach. For cattle to convert food into energy, their rumen must be healthy at all times and properly developed. All cattle handlers, including both beef cattle and dairy cows, need to know how to ensure the success of a calf’s stomach growth.
When a calf is born, it begins its life as a functionally non-ruminant animal. It has the ruminant anatomy, but only the abomasum is fully developed at the time of birth. This is the compartment that has a similar processing ability to the human stomach.
While the other three chambers are present, they remain undeveloped and out of use as long as a calf continues feeding solely on milk. As the calf begins to consume starter grain and forage, bacteria microbes start to develop in the rumen and reticulum. The further fermentation of these bacteria is what causes the rumen to begin development.
Milk and liquid substitutes bypass the rumen and reticulum, but dry feed collects in these areas, beginning the chemical changes necessary for development. Dry feed absorbs water already ingested by the cattle, providing the right conditions for bacteria growth.
That bacteria then helps to metabolize nutrients and produce volatile fatty acids, effectively lowering the pH of the rumen by way of neutralizing acids and improving bacteria growth.
The acids produced by bacteria provide energy for the rumen wall to grow. Butyric acid does not absorb through the wall, so all the energy it produces goes straight to the development of the organ. Other acids provide energy for the entire calf to grow, which contributes to the digestive system organs, as well.
Weaning is one of the most significant key factors in the development of the rumen. Timing the weaning process correctly is crucial. The calf’s rumen should be allowed time to develop before weaning the calf off of liquid feeds entirely. It takes about three weeks of significant starter grain intake daily for any calf to develop its rumen to the point where the weaning process can begin.
This time period allows for the establishment of a sufficient microbial population and absorptive capacity for continued normal growth without the help of liquid feed. If the calf is weaned before this stage, the calf may lose weight or not grow for the three weeks it takes the rumen to develop.
To encourage proper rumen development, handlers need to maintain a certain level of care for all calves, keeping them well fed, housed and managed.Calves need to feed to gain the nutrients and energy that supplement growth. But, if it is stressed or sick, a calf may refuse to eat. For this reason, it is crucial that their environment is consistently low-stress and that they remain healthy. They should also have a free choice of clean, accessible water.
They may also refuse to eat starter grains that seem unpalatable, such as those that contain too much dust or are moldy. Handlers should be sure to store starter grains so they are well-kept, without risk of contamination or mold growth, or any other element that may discourage a calf from eating.
Handlers should be consistently paying attention to a calf’s intake and eating habits. Additionally, they should maintain the correct balance of liquid and solid feeds. If overfed with the liquid variety, a calf will be discouraged to eat solid grains.
Any incorrect practices can lead to delays in rumen development, sometimes taking twice as long or longer to reach full maturity.
Most Common Issues With a Cattle’s Digestive System and What to Do
Because the ruminant digestive system has so many stages, numerous things can go wrong and cause complications. If anything inhibits the process, the afflicted cattle may develop an illness, refuse to eat or even risk death.
The most common ruminant digestive system issues are:
1. Rumen Impaction
The contents of a cattle’s rumen should be allowed to flow and move freely with proper hydration. But, without sufficient water intake, indigestible materials — including overly dense plant matter and high acid detergent fiber feeds — can pile up and compress within the rumen. This will prevent movement throughout the rest of the digestive system and keep it from functioning normally. To prevent rumen impaction, cattle need to have access to clean water and handlers should pay attention to whether or not they are drinking an average daily amount.
2. Hemorrhagic Bowel Syndrome (HBS)
Unfortunately, there isn’t any one specific cause for this affliction, as scientists have been unable to reproduce circumstances that cause HBS in cattle successfully, so diagnosing a direct reason can be difficult. However, there are a few potential catalysts to consider, including molds and mycotoxins, Clostridium perfringens type A or other bacteria like E. coli, improper management while trying to achieve higher milk production in dairy cows, or excessive dirt, soil, gravel, sand or rocks mixed in with feed. Generally, HBS is the result of a blood clot obstruction or blockage within the small intestine, which becomes distended. If this syndrome goes uncorrected, the fatality rate is exceedingly high. There are no guaranteed solutions or preventative measures, but maintaining rumen health may decrease the chances of HBS from developing. If the rumen fails to reduce feed well enough, it can pass forward obstructions and starches that feed unwanted bacteria and mycotoxins. So, encouraging reduction and proper rumen functionality may be the best preemptive defense against HBS.
Acidosis is a metabolic disease occurring directly within the rumen segment of the stomach. It can be brought on by several factors, including another illness, excessive or incorrect handling that causes the animal stress and too much concentrate, not enough forage. Any of these catalysts may lead to general complications and heightened susceptibility to diseases such as bovine respiratory disease or scours. Acidosis is a cyclical disease. When a catalyst causes the ruminal pH to shift to 5.5 or lower, the rumen ceases to move, making the afflicted cattle decrease its food and water intake. The combination of the pH imbalance and decreased intake causes the amount of acid collecting in the rumen to increase, further discouraging the cattle from eating and drinking. As this causes good bacteria to die off, releasing toxins and continuing the increasing amount of collecting acid, the animal will continue to avoid any kind of intake. If let worsen, this cycle can compromise the intestine linings, leading to leaky gut syndrome, weakening the animal’s immune system or potentially resulting in death. Successfully encouraging eating and drinking is the only way to break this cycle.
4. Fatty Liver
Fatty liver is what it sounds like — excessive accumulation of fat in the cow’s liver. The potential for this disease is common in cows around calving time. It’s typically caused by a negative energy balance, which occurs due to the growth of a calf, the beginning of colostrum production and a decrease in dry matter intake. These factors cause the cow to break down too much fat for the liver to handle. This broken down fat is converted to fat in the liver, an attempt to prevent toxicity. Fatty liver can begin developing within 24 hours of a cow going off feed and will not decrease on its own until the cow can retain a positive energy balance. Symptoms of fatty liver include a decrease in appetite, lower quantity milk yields, milk fever, ketosis, mastitis, retention of fetal membranes and a reduction in fertility. To prevent fatty liver in cattle, handlers need to keep cows at an ideal body condition and encourage a low-stress environment, including no sudden changes in their overall environment or feeding regimen. Handlers should generally avoid anything that may cause a reduction in feed intake.
Each of these diseases and syndromes is more common in high producing cows, which require consistently high food and water intake. Most of these issues occur in areas of the digestive system after the rumen, but the rumen’s reactive response can be severe for the cow’s health.
While changes and imbalances in a cattle’s health and digestive system are ordinary, there are ways to prevent common digestive issues for cattle through regulating the process and the functionalities of each internal organ.
Caring for Your Cattle’s Digestive System
Gut health is crucial to ensuring any cow’s long term health. The digestive functions of your cattle require balance, as any imbalance can severely impact the animal’s overall health.
Complications frequently arise from common catalysts, such as stress or changes in eating patterns. Little changes like these can mean big problems for the rumen and successive issues for other areas of the animal’s digestive system. If the animal’s digestion isn’t progressing correctly, they become prone to severe and potentially deadly diseases and excessive weight loss.
Signs of Potential Digestive Issues to Watch Out For in Beef Cattle and Dairy Farming
Because of the serious nature of these conditions, you need to pay close attention to the potential for or direct signs of digestive issues. Watch for cattle refusing to eat or drink, suffering from weight loss, diarrhea or lethargy, maintaining an elevated pulse and respiratory rate or generally behaving unusually.
If any of these symptoms show and persist in your cattle, you may need to find a way to re-regulate their digestive systems.
Be Proactive With the Digestive Health of Your Cattle
Pro Earth Animal Health created CattlActive® for this purpose. CattlActive® is an all-natural, completely U.S.-made product that will help keep your cattle’s digestion on track. It works by neutralizing excess acid in the rumen, easing bloat symptoms, increasing nutrient utilization, preventing ulcers and encouraging your cattle to eat and drink.
By maintaining your cattle’s regular digestion process and eating habits, you can help them stave off diseases and discomfort.
Horses can experience stress from a variety of environmental and social factors — from their training and feeding schedules to their interactions with other horses in the pasture. Different horses may show stress in different ways, and some horses respond better to stressful situations than others. However, stress can be a serious problem for even the toughest horses as it can lead to health and behavioral issues when left unaddressed. In this piece, we will explore the common causes and effects of equine stress so you can better recognize and prevent stress in your horses.
Just as humans experience stress in situations that are physically or mentally challenging, horses also experience stress as a natural response to changes or challenges in their environment. In some situations, stress is a helpful reaction that allows horses to cope or adapt. For example, if an unfamiliar animal enters a horse’s pasture, their natural stress response tells them to stay alert and approach that animal cautiously.
Short term stress helps keep a horse safe, but if stress continues for a long time, it can have damaging effects to the horse’s health and well-being. When we talk about a horse being stressed, we are often referring to this type of chronic stress. Over time, horses can adapt to familiar stresses, such as traffic near their pasture or a new horse joining their pasture. However, when faced with larger changes like a new training schedule or busy show season, horses may be unable to adjust and develop long-term stress.
Chronic stress occurs when a horse’s stress hormone levels rise in response to a stressful situation and then fail to decrease again. Chronically elevated stress hormones can lead to changes in the horse’s behavior and habits as well as cause many health problems.
What Causes Stress in Horses?
Chronic stress in horses is most often the result of changes in the horse’s environment or lifestyle. Management changes, such as a more strenuous exercise routine or new feeding schedule, can also lead to long-term stress. While some horses can adapt to these changes easily, other horses may have a harder time adjusting. Just as different people handle stressful situations differently, some horses are more likely to experience chronic stress than others.
By being aware of what triggers stress in horses, you can take steps to keep your horses healthy and happy. Here are some common causes of stress in horses:
1. Exercise Levels or Changes in Exercise Regimen
Racehorses and performance horses that have a rigorous training schedule with high-intensity exercise are more likely to develop chronic stress. Exercise-induced stress is often proportional to the horse’s competition level — a horse in training may be more stressed than a horse on rest, and a horse that is racing may be more stressed than during training.
Horses can also experience stress if their training schedule becomes more difficult or changes significantly. For example, a horse may struggle to adjust to a particularly busy competition season or more intricate training routine. If a horse feels uncomfortable during exercise for any reason, such as ill-fitting equipment or a new rider, this can also result in elevated stress levels.
On the other hand, exercise has also been shown to reduce stress in horses, while extended rest periods may increase their stress. If your horse is experiencing stress from other factors, taking them out for a ride may actually help to lower their stress levels and help them relax.
2. Poor Diet or Changes in Diet
Horses need a well-balanced diet and regular feeding schedule to stay healthy and fit. A proper diet will include all of the basic nutrients a horse needs, including carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Horses should also consume five to 15 gallons of water each day and eat one to two percent of their body weight in forage. In a healthy feeding schedule, horses are fed frequent small meals throughout the day.
If a horse is fed only feed, does not receive enough forage or their diet is lacking in essential nutrients, this can cause chronic stress. Feeding a horse only twice daily rather than several times is another common cause of stress. When a horse is stalled during rest, they should still be fed regularly with both roughage and feed.
In addition to a poor diet, changes in a horse’s diet or feeding routine can also lead to long-term stress. While traveling, try to keep your horse’s feeding schedule as consistent as possible. Bring your own hay and feed from home so your horses can still enjoy their regular diet while on the road.
3. A Busy Transportation Schedule
Performance horses that travel frequently during show season are more likely to develop chronic stress. Even if a horse has been transported before, traveling can still be stressful as they are going to an unfamiliar location and are likely experiencing other changes in their routine. As much as possible, a horse’s feeding and exercise schedule should be kept regular while traveling. While on the road, keep your horses well-hydrated and provide ample access to hay to encourage proper gut functioning. If your horses are used to regular turnout, take them on frequent walks to keep them out of their stalls as much as possible.
4. Housing Conditions
The amount of time a horse spends in the field and their stall can impact their stress levels. Regular turnout is important for a horse’s health and can help reduce their stress, so horses should be kept in the pasture as much as possible. If a horse that is usually very active must go on stall rest for injury recovery, keep them entertained as much as possible to prevent stress from boredom and lack of activity.
A horse’s housing conditions can also cause stress when new horses are introduced or if a barn that is typically quiet becomes noisy and crowded. Because horses are social animals, a horse can even develop chronic stress based on which horses are housed next to them.
5. Pregnancy or Reproduction
Horses may experience natural stress during different stages of their reproductive cycle, but this can become chronic stress if not managed properly. When a mare is in estrus, a follicle will develop on one of her ovaries, and she may experience frequent urination. These physical changes can cause discomfort and can lead to chronic stress. Treatments are available that can help reduce the symptoms of estrus and ease a mare’s stress.
A pregnant mare may experience pain or discomfort while giving birth which may be expressed through pawing, pacing, sweating or biting at her stomach. This stress is often relieved after the mare gives birth, but if stress continues after foaling, pain relief medication may be necessary.
What Are the Effects of Stress in Horses?
If a horse develops chronic stress from any of these causes, it can have long-term effects on their health and behavior. Horses suffering from stress may be more likely to get sick or develop gastric ulcers which can lead to more stress. Here are some common signs that a horse is stressed:
1. Weight Loss
A horse that is stressed may experience a decrease in their appetite and will begin to lose weight. This is a common effect if a horse is not receiving a well-balanced diet with quality feed and forage. If a horse is already experiencing gastrointestinal discomfort from a poor diet, they may exhibit a reduced appetite and lack of interest in food. Even if a horse is fed a regular and healthy diet, they may show a decreased appetite due to other stresses. Heat stress or other health problems can also cause weight loss in a horse, so it is important to explore any possible cause.
2. Gastric Ulcers
Gastric ulcers are very common in stressed horses, with about 60 percent of show horses and 90 percent of racehorses suffering from equine ulcers. High-performance horses are not the only ones susceptible to ulcers, however, as horse ulcers can be caused by a poor diet, a busy travel season, stall confinement or any other stressful environment.
Gastric ulcers form when a horse’s stomach lining erodes due to extended exposure to stomach acid. In a healthy horse, regular intake of feed and forage will neutralize this acid to protect the stomach lining. When a horse does not feed regularly, they are at risk of developing gastric ulcers.
Elevated stress hormones can also cause ulcers in horses. When the stress hormone cortisol is released, it reduces the production of another stress hormone called prostaglandin. This lowers the pH levels in the horse’s stomach which weakens the protective lining and makes the horse more susceptible to developing ulcers.
Because horses show very little outward signs when they are suffering from gastric ulcers, they can be difficult to diagnose. A horse with ulcers may show subtle signs such as a decreased appetite or a rough and dull coat. In more serious cases, horses with ulcers may grind their teeth or experience colic.
To test for gastric ulcers, a veterinarian will insert an endoscope into the horse’s stomach to look at the surface. Gastric ulcers are treated by removing stresses from the horse’s environment and ensuring they receive proper nutrition. Medications can also be used to increase pH levels in the horse’s stomach and stop the progression of ulcers.
3. Diarrhea and Frequent Urination
When a horse is stressed, they may produce more manure than usual in a short period of time and may also experience diarrhea. Horse diarrhea can also be caused by a poor diet, which is a common cause of stress in horses. A stressed horse may urinate frequently to relieve their stress and become more stressed if they are in a place where they cannot relieve themselves, such as a trailer.
4. Weakened Immune System
A chronically stressed horse will have high levels of cortisol which can disrupt its normal bodily functions. Too much cortisol can weaken a horse’s immune system, making a stressed horse more likely to catch an infectious disease or become seriously ill.
5. Stereotypic Behavior
If a horse is experiencing stresses, such as too much time in their stall or a poor feeding schedule, they may begin to exhibit stereotypies. Common stereotypes include cribbing, chewing, wall kicking, stall walking, weaving and fence walking. While this stereotypic behavior is not always tied to stress, it may be an indicator that a horse is not adjusting well to a change in their environment or routine.
The reason horses yawn is not entirely clear, but yawning has been connected to stereotypic behaviors and may be a sign that a horse is stressed. Yawning could provide an endorphin release that helps horses cope with a stressful situation. If your horse yawns frequently, ask yourself if there may be a reason that your horse is stressed.
7. Behavioral Changes
When a horse is stressed, they may develop a poor attitude and become resistant to training or exercise. A horse that is usually enthusiastic about work may become unmotivated or appear depressed. Horses that are stressed may also act out by bucking, bolting, biting, rearing or pawing, even if they are generally even-tempered and well-behaved.
8. Tooth Grinding
As mentioned above, tooth grinding can be a sign that a horse has gastric ulcers. Horses may also grind their teeth if they are experiencing other physical pain or discomfort. Physiological stress can also cause horses to grind their teeth while they are in their stall or being ridden. If a horse does not have any dental issues, tooth grinding is likely a result of a stressful environment.
9. Trembling, Sweating and Elevated Pulse
During a stressful situation, a horse may exhibit many of the same physical signs that a person does when they are stressed. The horse’s heart rate and breathing increase and they may begin to sweat. Horses may also tremble when they are in a stressful environment such as during transportation or when visited by the veterinarian. These signs of stress will normally disappear whenever the stressful trigger disappears. However, if a horse shows these signs of stress in an ordinary situation, that may indicate chronic stress.
How to Make Your Horse’s Life Less Stressful
If your horse shows any of these signs of stress, there are several measures you can take to create a more comfortable and healthy environment. First, try to identify what may be causing your horse to feel stressed, and then consider ways you can adjust their lifestyle to relieve that stress. Here are a few options for how to reduce stress in horses:
Maintain a consistent daily routine: Horses enjoy a regular schedule, so aim to keep their feeding and exercise schedule as consistent as possible, even while traveling.
Create a healthy diet and feeding schedule: Ensure your horses are receiving good nutrition with the proper balance of feed and forage. Horses should have access to plenty of clean water and be fed several times during the day.
Increase pasture time: If your horses spend a lot of time inside their stalls, try to increase their turnout as much as possible.
Adjust exercise schedules: Make sure your horses are receiving the right amount of exercise and appropriate level of training. Proper exercise routines help prevent injuries and can reduce stress in horses.
Monitor social interactions: If you believe your horse may be stressed due to social factors, watch how the horse interacts with other horses in the pasture and barn. If the horse seems uncomfortable while in the barn, consider moving it to another stall.
Take care when traveling: When transporting your horses, try to keep the trailer ride as smooth as possible. Provide ample hay and water to keep the horse’s stomach settled while traveling. Bring hay and feed from home so your horse’s diet stays consistent.
Perform preventative care: Keep your horses up-to-date on vaccines and take them for regular health exams. If your horse shows any signs of stress-induced health problems, talk to your veterinarian about possible treatments.
By recognizing the causes and effects of stress in horses, you can take steps to relieve their stress and create a happier environment. At Pro Earth Animal Health, we are dedicated to helping you keep your horses healthy and stress-free. We are proud to offer the all-natural equine supplement Zesterra, which is designed to reduce the effects of stress in horses and help prevent gastric ulcers. Contact Pro Earth Animal Health to learn more about Zesterra and how it can benefit your horses’ health.
Whether you’ve been getting started and honing your skills in a particular riding style for years or you’ve recently taken up riding, it’s crucial to understand the best horse types for each riding discipline. A good match can transform your experience and advance you to new levels.
Not every horse performs the same. Some horses have exceptional longevity for endurance riding, while others can reach great heights for show jumping. The horse size, breeding, temperament and training can all contribute to how they function during the ins and outs of your preferred styles of riding.
If you are wondering, “What type of horse do I need?” the following guide will help you review the array of riding disciplines and inform you about the most fitting horses for common riding styles.
The Primary Factors: English and Western Riding Styles
Popular riding styles like barrel racing or dressage fall under two main disciplines: Western and English. The general origins, saddle design, direction and positioning separate these forms, but they also split off into additional subsections.
The equipment and interaction between the rider and horse is a major distinction. English style saddles offer riders a slight, flat saddle that allows them tighter proximity to the horse. It also gives direct guidance from a mouth rein, so the horse responds to the redirection of its face. Western saddles, on the other hand, provide a substantial, deep surface that spreads over the horse, and a neck rein nudges the horse along the right route. Western saddles allow for a deeper seat and more security when a horse is making sudden turns and moves, as in cutting or barrel racing.
Both types of riding styles have rich histories that influenced the evolution of these saddle styles. English riding started in Europe but wasn’t restricted to Britain, and it had ties to the military, creating the form we now know. Western riding and tack stemmed from cattle-related purposes in America, and has shared traits with the Australian stock saddle and those used by the gauchos of South America.
However, English and Western riding subgroups branch out into a wide variety of applications that require unique horse breeds. While there are no hard and fast rules for which horse breed may or may not be used, different breeds offer particular traits that can make them more likely to be able to perform in certain disciplines. For instance, intelligent breeds that rapidly pick up instruction are ideal for Western riding, which demands tremendous perception. English disciplines such as steeplechasing require animals with a great deal of endurance and an ability to jump over tall obstacles.
Let’s dive into these styles and the most common types of horses used for them.
Western Horseback Riding Styles and Suitable Horse Breeds
While the Western-style did start out for day-to-day work on ranches, Western riding has evolved into various branches of competition. They all show athleticism, diligence and a connection between horse and rider. Most of these branches are easiest for horses that are typically used for ranch work, and with the wider saddle and quick neck reining cues, they require bright and agile breeds.
1. Western Pleasure
This competition category displays horses that are capable of precise, measured movements. The rider executes a steady gait for the judges with a variety of precise beats and corresponding paces. The horse remains alert with an upright head, and its easy going disposition accompanies a flowing and uninterrupted cadence.
A proper breed for Western pleasure is tall with a stable frame. With leaner shoulders and hips, it needs to hold steep angles to execute slow, deliberate motions. A level neck and an effortless stride create a successful Western pleasure horse.
Quarter Horses that are hand-picked for strong lower forelimbs are worthy Western pleasure candidates, especially if they’re trained specifically for the discipline. Due to their smooth gait and calm demeanor, Quarter horses are ideal for Western pleasure.
Tennessee Walking Horses are also graceful and their comfortable gait allows them to excel in Western pleasure competitions.
Comparable to English dressage, Western reining is a swift series of guided activities. The reining patterns range from circles, stops, spins, roll-backs and flying lead changes, and they demonstrate a horse’s refined agility.
The sharp transitions in reining take skillful maneuvering, so the horses have to be sensitive to cues at a moment’s notice. Horses that work with cattle typically have the dexterity to complete these exact tasks.
While reining is based primarily on athleticism rather than breed, two prominent reining horses are Paints and Appaloosas. Paint horses have broad chests and strong centers of gravity that keep them firm through the shifting stages of reining. Similarly, Appaloosas are highly coordinated and powerful, which allows them to carry out precise exercises.
Cutting is a herding activity where the horse and rider block off a specific cow or cows. During cutting, the handler and horse isolate a cow and continue to separate it from the herd despite its attempts to rejoin the group. The handler also has to let the horse lead the cutting for a period of time, using its own instincts.
Steering a herd-oriented cow is challenging, so the horse must have advanced intuition to face off with the cow. Anticipation and flexibility are two natural qualities a horse should have to effectively cut.
Working cow horses often include Quarter horses and crosses. The balance and attentiveness of Quarter Horses establish them as the go-to horse breed for this competition.
4. Trail Riding
With arranged trail barriers on a natural course, the handler and horse travel and strategically navigate different obstacles. Trail riding can involve opening and closing gates, changes in terrain and logs, water obstacles and it isn’t timed like endurance racing. The way the riders complete the challenging obstacles is scored, along with the horse’s adaptability and poise.
Horses need stamina and athletic prowess to make it through the distance and stops. The best horses for trail riding can tolerate long stretches of riding and nimbly accomplish obstacles.
Arabians are proficient at traversing a course because of their muscular legs and natural endurance. Trail riding can wear on even the most resilient horses, so thorough hoof health is an important consideration. Fortunately, Arabians’ sure-footedness can conquer the hazards of trail riding. Their elegance is also beneficial in coming off as a capable trail contestant.
Missouri Fox Trotters also maintain their energy in trail riding. Their sloped shoulders and sturdy back help them carry the weight of a rider through the obstacles with ease.
5. Team Penning
As a group competition, team penning requires three handlers to guide a group of three designated cattle into a pen. The pen is usually on the other side of the competition area, and the riders have to coordinate with one another to draw the cows away from the herd. The three cows have to be labeled with the announced number, which makes it complex.
Because this combines cutting, penning and teamwork, this style requires a resourceful horse, and horses suited for cutting fulfill the needs for team penning, too. Quarter Horses have diverse abilities, and their stature helps them put up a barrier for the cows. Morgan Horses are also smart and agile, which makes them a good choice for this type of cattle work.
6. Barrel Racing
To barrel race, a horse and rider run around three barrels in a triangular layout. They loop each barrel in a cloverleaf design before exiting the arena. Scoring is dependent on the overall time, but the turns and control play substantial roles, too.
Horses have to have powerful haunches to build up speed, and their balance and footing around turns need a quick reaction. Quarter horses are typically the most well-suited with their compact, strong conformation. When a Quarter Horse has an even build, they can distribute their full power in short-distance running, a vital element for making a good time in a barrel run.
Endurance riding competitions stretch more than 50 miles on average, and these long distances have vet checks at marked intervals to evaluate the condition of the horse.
Physically demanding performances over great distances can tire out horses. However, there are certain horse breeds that are well-suited to persevere through these intense races.
The horse breed that tends to have the longest-lasting endurance is the Arabian. Arabians are dominant in endurance racing because of their history of survival and fortified structure. Their pronounced hips, laid-back shoulders and muscled haunches let them release spurts of energy along the route. Their smaller hooves also allow them to pick through rough terrain with more agility than heavier breeds.
This is a collection of speed events and games that normally apply to youth riders. Gymkhana is also referred to as mounted games, and riders participate in things like flag races, barrel racing, keg races, pole bending and keyhole races.
In fast-paced games on horseback, the type of horse chosen needs to support the goals and skill level of the rider. They should also be able to climb to brisk speeds and be aware of the rider’s guidance.
To accommodate younger riders, it’s important to choose a horse that’s experienced but good-natured. Ponies can serve as adequate mounts for children, but Appaloosas are also a popular choice for Gymkhana. Their independence and trustworthiness set them up for the varied requirements of the events.
English Riding Styles and Suitable Horse Breeds
Unlike the Western disciplines, English riding styles are more structured and add further pomp to events. Jumping techniques and precise stepping styles are two instrumental parts of English riding, but the numerous types switch up the arenas, obstacles and expectations. Here are seven types of English riding disciplines.
Dressage is a classical discipline where riders usher their horse through a rhythmic routine. The tests in the sequence can cover multiple gaits, piaffe, passage and pirouettes. Riders and horses are graded on their harmony, impulsion and composure.
As an almost choreographed dance, dressage cultivates restraint and willingness. Horses have to closely obey their rider and demonstrate finesse, and this artistic practice prioritizes visual excellence.
Hanoverians and Andalusians are beautiful breeds that conduct themselves well during dressage. Hanoverians are noble and willing — plus, their gaits are light and far-reaching when necessary. Andalusians are also sophisticated animals that create a spectacle, and their cadence has the perfect amount of lift for dressage moves.
2. Show Jumping
For show jumping, the horse and rider must leap over a succession of fences in a ring formation. As a timed task, the jumps should be consecutive, and the recovery of horse and rider in between should be immediate.
Typically, most warmblood breeds are suited to show jumping. Taller, with excellent strength, they are capable of jumping over large fences with apparent ease. Appaloosas achieve impressive jumps for show jumping. Their legs are narrow but mighty, which lets them push off for a leap. Those with long but considerable backs can create an appealing arch as they jump, too. Thoroughbreds are also magnificent jumpers, and their extensive leg length is one advantage that propels them over fences.
As a three-tiered event, eventing hosts dressage, cross-country and show jumping segments. Cross country, the only part not yet addressed, involves a course of lower and higher fences, as well as obstacles. Many of these are built to emulate structures that might be encountered out and about.
Multi-talented horses are useful for eventing, and it’s important they have high stamina. The jumping exercises take high degrees of strength combined with continual smoothness, and Hanoverians boast an assortment of skills that are optimal in eventing. They’re masters of dressage movements and hurdling fences.
This mounted team sport is played on horseback, and the teams hit a ball with a wooden mallet into goals while staying in the saddle. Horses in the game, or “polo ponies,” carry their riders close to the ball and finagle their way around other horses.
Polo ponies tend to be Thoroughbreds because they are agile and quick. They intrinsically have the ease and endurance to complete the games, too.
5. Saddle Seat
Saddle seat competitions highlight the high-stepping abilities of horses. It’s a dramatic exhibition aimed to catch the judges’ eyes, reflecting some shared principles with dressage.
Morgan Horses and American Saddlebreds are both viable options for saddle seat riding. Morgan Horses characteristically have a proud neck and distinguished gait, which gives them the flair they need in saddle seat.
Alternatively, American Saddlebreds offer height and weight of a regal stature, as their back gently dips. Their steps are exaggerated, which clearly conveys their gait in saddle seat competitions.
6. English Pleasure
While Western pleasure has horses lope and jog, English pleasure requires more showmanship in the gait, which is why it consists of trotting and cantering. Judges look for more animated motions in English pleasure.
Arabians are a popular horse to find in the English pleasure ring, and they are capable of a high-scoring strut. Their manners are amiable, so they can easily pick up a winning attitude.
Hunting or hunt seat riding features a forward saddle and riding position, and there’s separate scoring for the horse and rider during flat and jumping tests. Also, the obstacles take on a tone that simulates the outdoors.
Horses that notice the subtle fences and function smoothly in careful gait tests are preferable for this English style. Thoroughbreds are sharp, and they can produce high jumps and precise steps. Considerate preparation for natural events can lead a Thoroughbred to proficient hunting riding.
Support Your Horse’s Health With Zesterra® From Pro Earth Animal Health
Zesterra® is an all-natural supplement that can improve your horse’s well being through highs and lows. It balances the pH of the stomach to get your horse back in top shape. From heavy exercise to changes in weather, every horse owner can find a use for Zesterra® to maintain and improve their horses’ health.
At Pro Earth Animal Health, we are concerned about your animal’s well-being. That’s why we provide affordable, all-natural supplements and practical resources to keep them feeling their best. Shop our selection of Zesterra® online today or contact our team to learn more.
It’s a well-known fact that cattle producers face many problems that can cause productivity and economic losses. The leading cause of these losses, however, is usually a result of calf scouring (diarrhea).
It has been reported by the National Animal Health Monitoring System for U.S. dairy, that half of the deaths in unweaned calves (calves who are usually younger than 8 or 9 months of age) were due to scours.
There are multiple agents that can cause a calf to develop scours, such as malnutrition, stress, and infectious pathogens, with the leading and most common cause being a pathogen that is best known as E. coli (Escherichia coli).
E. coli is a species of bacterium that inhabit the stomach and intestines of calves and, “can be classified into six pathogroups based on virulence scheme: enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), shiga toxin-producing E. coli, enteropathogenic E. coli, enteroinvasive E. coli, entero aggressive E. coli, and enterohaemorrhagic E. coli.” (Cho, Yong-Il)
Among the six types of E. coli, ETEC is the leading cause of neonatal diarrhea as this bacteria produces toxins that stimulate the lining of the intestines. This stimulation causes the intestines to secrete excessive fluid, which then becomes diarrhea.
In order for ETEC to stimulate the intestine and cause diarrheal diseases, it must first colonize, or adhere to intestinal mucosal membranes in the intestine of the calf. This is done as a result of pili or fimbriae, which are adhesins found on the surface of the bacteria, and are known as K99 adhesin antigen.
When a calf becomes infected with ETEC, they will produce an abundant amount of diarrhea and experience abdominal pain. E. coli will also prevent the calf from absorbing the water and nutrients found in their dam’s milk, as most of the water and nutrients in the calf will be lost in diarrhea.
Once infected, the calf will lose fluids, minerals, and salts (electrolytes) which results in dehydration and acidosis, and being that a calf is 70% water at birth, the mortality rate is high.
When a calf is suffering from scours, it is quite apparent in their appearance as they may show several symptoms such as sunken eyes, weakness, dryness in the mouth or nostrils, depression, and weight loss to name a few.
The best action to combat scours caused by E. coli is through preventative action, as treatments to reverse scours can prove to be expensive and sometimes futile measures. E. coli is usually transmitted from the consumption of contaminated food and water, from insect bites, and unsanitary living conditions.
To reduce the likelihood of a scour outbreak, a calf must first and foremost have a strong digestive system. This means that it is at an optimum pH and is primed to absorb water and nutrients.
It is advised to always provide clean feed and water to the calves, keep them properly vaccinated with the latest vaccines, provide clean living quarters, and, perhaps most importantly, keep their stress as low as possible.
Understanding the causes of calf scours will allow producers to provide preventative measures to protect their investments and livestock; this includes having a firm understanding of E. coli and the effects it can have on the young calf.
Baecker, P A et al. “Expression of K99 adhesion antigen controlled by the Escherichia coli tryptophan operon promoter.” Infection and immunity vol. 56,9 (1988): 2317-23.
Cho, Yong-Il, and Kyoung-Jin Yoon. “An overview of calf diarrhea – infectious etiology, diagnosis, and intervention.” Journal of veterinary science vol. 15,1 (2014): 1-17. doi:10.4142/jvs.2014.15.1.1
E. coli.” Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 6 Jun. 2011. academic-eb-com.aurarialibrary.idm.oclc.org/levels/collegiate/article/E-coli/472242. Accessed 17 Apr. 2019.
“Enterotoxigenic E. Coli (ETEC) | E. Coli | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014, www.cdc.gov/ecoli/etec.html.
Henderson, Greg. “Calf Scours: Causes, Prevention and Treatment.” Drovers, www.drovers.com/article/calf-scours-causes-prevention-and-treatment-0.
Stokka, Gerald, and Louis Perino. “Calving Tips: Going To War On Calf Scours.” Beef Magazine, 26 Dec. 2018, www.beefmagazine.com/mag/beef_vets_opiniongoing_war.
Meet Dillon Sackett, the 2018 South Dakota State Champion Tie-down Roper! After looking for a solution to a hot and unfocused horse, Dillon’s found that Zesterra® makes the difference between a good roping and a great one.
PEAH: Hi Dillon! Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! First off, we’d like to know – what titles do you currently hold?
DS: Hello! Well, I was the 2017 20x Rodeo Showcase Champion Tie-Down Roper and this year I’m the 2018 South Dakota State Champion Tie-down Roper.
PEAH: Congratulations! That’s an impressive accomplishment! Obviously, you must belong to a few organizations. Which ones are you a part of?
DS: I belong to SDHSRA, SD-4H Rodeo, Little Britches Rodeo, SDRA, FFA, and the AQHA. I am also partnered with Hotheels Roping Dummy, and Ramona Horse Feed.
PEAH: It sounds like you’re really active and busy with all of these organizations. So tell us, how did you come to use Zesterra®?
DS: Zesterra® has majorly benefitted my horse throughout this high school rodeo season! My horse was hot in the box when we rope calves. Found out about Zesterra® and he stands like a rock in the box now! I have not heard a bad thing about Pro Earth Products.
PEAH: We’re so happy that it’s helping both you and your horse! Can you tell us what your goals for the next few months are?
DS: My goals for 2018 has been to be state champion tie-down roper and make nationals for the first time. There I hope to be 6th or better in the world at the end of nationals!
PEAH: We’re rooting for you! Tell us a little more about you… what would you like us to know?
DS: The horses I use are trained by my family and I. That’s what makes a win even better! Having Zesterra® for my horse throughout the 2018 year has made every bit of difference in winning a state championship in the tie-down!
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