was successfully added to your cart.

Cart

Category

Cattle

What is E. coli?

By | Cattle, Cow-Calf | No Comments

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.

Sources
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 Pro Earth Rep Dave Jagow

By | Cattle, Horses, Rep Profiles | No Comments
Photos: Dave Jagow

Location: Hardwick, Minnesota

Talk to Dave Jagow for a few minutes and it’s apparent that if there’s one thing this man knows, it’s livestock. Located in the SW corner of Minnesota, Dave has grown a solid network of friends and fellow stockmen in the area.

Learn more about Dave! Read on…

PE: So, Dave, what made you want to get involved in working with Pro Earth?

DJ: I met Matt (Zancanella) a few years ago and became acquainted with him. I started using both the CattlActive® and Zesterra®. Last year I saw him at a stock show and he mentioned that he didn’t have anyone covering my area of Minnesota. I decided that because I believe in the products and what they can do, I wanted to share them with other livestock producers in my area.

PE: What do you like most about our product(s)?

DJ: I enjoy being able to show the results to people and letting them see for themselves what they can do. I also really love the ease of use.

PE: What is one accomplishment you’re incredibly proud of?

DJ: Introducing some of the smaller feedlots on CattlActive® and seeing it help their bottom line.

PE: So, what would you like us to know about you? Your family, hobbies… anything you would like us all to know.

DJ: Well, I’m married and have 4 kids. I’ve worked in agriculture my whole career — feedlots, cow/calf operations, and now I’m the transportation manager for New Horizon Farms. In my free time, I enjoy trail riding and ranch rodeos. I also collect and trade old bits and spurs and have recently become interested in old cast iron cookware.

PE: Which Pro Earth Products do you offer to folks in your area?

DJ: I offer CattlActive® and Zesterra®. I also carry the lick tubs for both products.

PE: What area(s) do you serve?

DJ: I am located in the SW corner of Minnesota and serve Worthington, Rock County, Pipestone County, Nobles County, and Murray County.

PE: What is the easiest way for people to contact you? 

DJ: I’m most easily reached by phone. My number is 507-290-2183

Related Posts

Meet Dillon Sackett: 2018 South Dakota State Champion Tie-down Roper
Meet Pro Earth Rep Heather Butler
Meet Pro Earth Rep Blake Sutton

Meet Pro Earth Rep Blake Sutton

By | Cattle, Horses, Rep Profiles | No Comments
Photos: Blake Sutton

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Health and fitness aren’t just trendy leanings for Pro Earth Rep Blake Sutton — they’re a way of life. His enthusiasm to share his knowledge and resources doesn’t just stop at people — he specializes in compounded pharmaceuticals for the veterinary industry.

Learn more about Blake! Read on…

PE: So, Blake, what made you want to get involved in working with Pro Earth?

BS: I’ve been in the Animal Health industry close to 10 years, selling compounded pharmaceuticals for small and large animal hospitals (equine hospitals), so I really wanted to offer my clients another healthy alternative to medications. It’s helped me diversify my business nicely. I have clients all over the country, so by offering PEAH products to them now, I thought it was a smart move for my business.

PE: What do you like most about our product(s)?

BS: The thing I absolutely love about the PEAH line of products is the all-natural option to offer your clients, help them, and inform them about preventative health. It’s fun tackling health issues before they even happen.

PE: What is one accomplishment you’re incredibly proud of?

BS: I’m proud of keeping my lifestyle healthy and fit. Being active is a big part of my life, so eating right and working out is something I’m consistent with and proud of because it’s not exactly easy to do as you get older.

PE: So, what would you like us to know about you? Your family, hobbies… anything you would like us all to know.

BS: I’m a Wisconsin guy at heart, born and raised in Beaver Dam, WI. After high school, I played golf at University of Wisconsin – Parkside (Kenosha, WI DII) and graduated with a BA of Science in Health and Fitness.

I enjoy fishing, golfing, playing tennis, going to the gym, wake surfing and enjoying the summer. When I’m not being active I enjoy relaxing, having a nice dinner with a Brandy Old-Fashioned Sweet.

PE: Which Pro Earth Products do you offer to folks in your area?

BS: I offer CattlActive® and Zesterra®. I also carry the lick tubs for both products, along with Cut-Away and Tummy Tamerz.

PE: What area(s) do you serve?

BS: I am based in Milwaukee, but cover Madison, Green Bay and Kalamazoo, Michigan, as well.

PE: What is the easiest way for people to contact you? 

BS: I’m available by phone at 920-319-0785 or via email at ccsmeds@gmail.com

Related Posts

Meet Dillon Sackett: 2018 South Dakota State Champion Tie-down Roper
Meet Pro Earth Rep Heather Butler
Meet Pro Earth Rep Dave Jagow

Prebiotics: What They Are and What They Do

By | Acidosis and Shipping Fever, Branding, Cattle, Cow-Calf, Pre-Conditioning | No Comments

Prebiotics are an important part of the digestive cycle and especially for mammals. Although much research has been conducted on the importance of probiotics, it’s only been in recent years that the role of prebiotics has been closely examined and studied.

Not to be confused with probiotics, prebiotics support the health and continued growth of the beneficial microbes that make up prebiotics.

These findings have led to a major change in the way prebiotics and probiotics are being used in the cattle producer’s operation to help minimize the need for antibiotics while increasing gains.

Definition of Prebiotics

Prebiotics are feed ingredients that are not digestible or only partially digestible. They provide colonies of beneficial bacteria in the gut with “food” so they can continue to flourish. This, in turn, works to maintain a balanced digestive microbiota.

In specific, cattle benefit from the undigestible sugars that are often found in fibrous plant material. Most feedstuffs contain at least a small amount of prebiotic material. Prebiotics can be found naturally at some level in almost any feed.

This includes grass and other forage, grains, and formulated concentrated feeds. Some products on the market even add specialized blends of prebiotics.

How Do Prebiotics Work?

When a cow consumes feed, the rumen works to break it down more and more as it moves sequentially through each stomach chamber. In this way, the feed it is eating has the highest chance of being gleaned of nutrients for the cow’s utilization.

By the time this digesta reaches the intestinal tract nearly all of the nutrient-containing components have been extracted, allowing for the final stages of digestion and absorption into the body. The only exception to this is the undigestible matter that remains unprocessed. Much of this matter serves as a prebiotic.

Once these prebiotics reach the intestinal tract they begin to ferment, where they produce volatile fatty acids such as butyric acid. The beneficial bacteria in the gut thrive on these volatile fatty acids (VFAs), which in turn allows them to grow more robust and increase their numbers.

What Is the Most Common Source of Prebiotics in the Bovine Diet?

In an unenhanced diet (i.e. feedstuffs that have not been seeded with prebiotics), the most plentiful source or prebiotics comes from plant material such as hay or alfalfa. The undigestible fiber and other components in this roughage provide an excellent source of prebiotic material.

This is, in part, why cattle that are on a concentrated feed diet may be more prone to experiencing intestinal microbial imbalances.

To counter this issue with concentrated feeds, many companies are now offering diets using a wide variety of prebiotics. Perhaps the most widely known of these are mannan oligosaccharides (MOS).

MOS are highly beneficial for attracting and carrying harmful pathogens from the gut. They work by drawing in bad bacteria with a sugar known as mannose. These bacteria cannot derive energy from the sugar but do stick to it. They are then carried from the animal’s system without managing to infect it or further populate the gut.

Other prebiotics that have also shown to be valuable in developing a healthy digestive system include fructooligosaccharides and beta glucan.

Why Are Prebiotics Necessary?

The health of the digestive system and gut microbiota (as discussed in the first installment) is dependent upon the balance of microbes inhabiting the intestines.

Every animal has a different microbial makeup that forms their own individual microbiome. Despite this, there is one fact that is the same across the board – there must be a much higher level of beneficial microbes than commensal or pathogenic.

Prebiotics feed the beneficial bacteria that line the gut walls. They are responsible for helping further digest food, increase nutrient absorption and keep the pathogenic microbes at manageable numbers. They also provide a sort of “buffer” that prevents toxins from passing through the intestinal walls and into the bloodstream.

When enough prebiotics are not being introduced into the digestive system, the beneficial microbes don’t have access to the needed “food” that keeps them functioning and multiplying. As they “starve” they begin to die off in increasingly larger numbers.

As this die-off occurs, acid-producing harmful bacteria are able to establish themselves in larger numbers on the gut walls.

Once too much of the beneficial microbe population has been destroyed, it’s difficult to get the balance back where it belongs.

How Can Prebiotics Help?

In animals with a healthy gut microbiota, keeping an adequate level of prebiotics in the diet will help maintain the status quo. However, for those animals that have a compromised digestive system, prebiotics may be the key to giving them an honest chance at becoming healthy.

It has been found that calves that receive adequate prebiotics both pre and post-weaning tend to have greater gains. This is due to increased nutrient absorption.

A popular remedy for calves that are poor doers is to administer lactulose, a synthetic disaccharide. Studies have found that calves that have been given this course of therapy frequently develop strong immune systems and are able to overcome some of the issues associated with premature birth.

Additionally, prebiotics increase the body’s ability to rid itself of waste and toxins by increasing stool size, moisture content and composition. Both constipation and diarrhea can be devastating conditions for the young calf.

In Conclusion

Prebiotics are an absolutely necessary aspect of maintaining a healthy microbiome. The gut’s ability to function optimally depends on two main things – how strong the beneficial microbial population is and whether or not the pH is properly balanced.

Both of these functions depend on the presence of adequate amounts of prebiotics to support the digestive system.

SOURCES:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4462921/

http://ijlr.org/issue/prebiotics-new-feed-supplement-dairy-calf/

http://www.credenceresearch.com/press/global-prebiotics-in-animal-feed-market

https://www.progressivedairy.com/topics/feed-nutrition/youve-heard-about-probiotics-for-cows-but-what-about-prebiotics

http://feedlotmagazine.com/benefits-of-using-probiotics-prebiotics-in-cattle-feed/

Related Posts

Herd Handling Techniques and Their Effects on the Immune System

Stress and Cortisol Can Undermine Your Herd Vaccination Programs

Understanding Adaptive Immunity

What is a microbiome?

By | Acidosis and Shipping Fever, Branding, Cattle, Cow-Calf, Pre-Conditioning | No Comments

What In the World Is A Microbiome?

Part one of a three-part series on the microbiome and the role of the digestive system in the overall health of cattle.

Let’s face it – ruminants are some of the most complexly-designed animals on the planet. Their multi-chambered stomachs must be in sync like clockwork to ensure the animal gets the nutrients it needs.

These inner workings are further complicated by the fact that the resident microbial population must maintain a careful balance in order for proper digestion to take place.

You may have heard the term “microbiome” before. For as important as it is, it very rarely features in discussions surrounding the gut-immune system link.

To understand the roles of the various parts of the digestive system, including its microbial element, it’s helpful to know what the microbiome is and how it functions as a whole.

The skinny of a microbiome

The honed-down definition of a microbiome is a group of different kinds microorganisms that live together, creating a unique miniature ecosystem in a host. Think of it this way: The entire body is a city. Within that city are numerous inhabitants including plants and animals that create the residents.

Within this microbiome, these residents include symbiotic, commensal and pathogenic bacteria, viruses and fungi. In this particular case, the microbiome is the cow’s body.

Now, onto these neighborhoods. In every living organism are multiple “neighborhoods” or communities known as microbiota. Each of these is unique in the types and numbers of different microbes living within that group. Microbiota are present in every part of the body.

For the purposes of this article, the main focus will be on the bacterial microbiome that is found in the cow’s digestive system.

The Good, the Bad, The Lazy: different bacteria of the microbiome

There are three different categories of bacteria that live in the microbiome. These three categories are symbiotic, commensal and pathogenic.

Symbiotic bacteria are those bacteria that work with the body and contribute positively to the animal’s well-being. In true symbiotic fashion, they take what they need from the host, and in return, give the host something it needs.

Commensal bacteria are the freeloaders of the bacterial world. They don’t hurt the host, but certainly don’t provide anything, either.

Then we come to the pathogenic bacteria. These “criminals” of the bacterial world are usually present in the fewest numbers. They are very opportunistic and will take advantage if they find a weakness in the system. This is when they are most likely to cause disease.

The overall health of a microbiome determines how everyone lives together and whether or not the pathogenic bacteria will be able to take hold and cause disease. In healthy animals, they live side-by-side with smaller populations of the “bad” bacteria being kept to a minimum.

Got microbiome?

Literally every multi-celled animal (and even plants) on the planet depend on their microbiomes to keep them healthy and alive. Focusing in even closer, the individual microbiota in a microbiome serves its own purpose, making sure the whole can function properly.

A cow’s body has a multi-layered system of defenses that protect it from disease. This is where the microbiome shines as the hero.

Starting with its hide, this is the first defense barrier. It physically protects against the invasion of pathogens and other foreign substances from entering the body.

Up next are the mucous membranes. They play host to a wide variety of cells and microbes that help prevent disease. They also provide a layer of protection for underlying tissues.

Last, but not least, we have the gut. The gut is the number-one most important element of a healthy microbiome.

How?

Sure, it breaks down food and makes it useable. Between digestive enzymes and acids, the bulk of the feed gets broken down. Then what? This is where the symbiotic bacteria present in the gut get their moment to shine.

They further break down feed into absorbable nutrients and, in the process, create some pretty amazing metabolic by-products that are actually highly beneficial to the cow.

These chemicals support a healthy gut lining. They neutralize excess acid and encourage the growth of more beneficial bacteria. This not only crowds out any extra pathogens but also keeps toxins from crossing the gut barrier and entering into the bloodstream.

Big bonus: they promote stimulation and support of the overall immune system.

How does the ruminal microbiome develop?

A calf’s system is a blank slate when it’s born. When in utero, the calf doesn’t have to contend with bacterial or viral issues – ideally, its mother’s body takes care of all of that.

Once it is born, the creation of its unique microbiome begins.

Exposure to microbes found in the birth canal are the first the calf will encounter. From there, the next introduction is to those found in the environment around it – the air, soil, and plant life it comes into contact with will contribute new microbial elements to the overall development of its microbiome.

A calf’s gut doesn’t have any marked populations of bacteria, fungus, yeast or viruses until it nurses for the first time. The combination of the microbes found in those first feedings of a cow’s colostrum, along with any found on the teats provide the framework for the gut’s development.

Because these first nursings determine a calf’s health for the rest of its life, it’s integral that the mother have a strong and healthy rumen that allows her to produce a high-quality colostrum.

Obviously, the microbial population plays the biggest role in the development of the digestive microbiome. Despite this, additional factors such as genetic makeup and the diet have a significant influence on the ongoing health of the microbiome.

Antibiotics: both friend and foe

Believe it or not, the average cow’s microbiome, and in turn its digestive microbiota, was actually healthier a hundred years ago than it is today.

This is due to the introduction and overuse of antibiotics. While these drugs can literally be the difference between life and death when facing a major bacterial infection, they can also be the worst enemy of the balance of the microbiome.

The reason for this is because antibiotics are unable to determine which microbes are beneficial and which are harmful. They end up killing the majority of the bacteria they encounter, pathogenic or not.

As the balance of bacteria is disturbed, the entire microbiome – not just in the gut – is thrown out of whack. This gives opportunistic microbes such as yeasts and funguses a chance to grow unchecked.

The use of antibiotics is being closely examined now. Careful use and management are helping many producers avoid developing antibiotic-resistant diseases in their herds.

Sustaining a healthy microbiome

Ensuring your herd maintains healthy microbiomes can be a big task but is well worth it. The most important aspect of this is giving your cattle a stress-free environment. This helps reduce the production of various chemical components (including gastric acids and cortisol), thus helping maintain homeostasis.

Secondly, directly supporting the microbiome with a healthy diet that is rich in nutrients and has a high prebiotic content.

The cow’s microbiome is the determining factor in its success or failure. Whether raising breeding stock, a feeder calf or a dairy cow, maintaining the balanced microbiome is pivotal in ensuring that animal thrives during its lifespan.

In the next installments, we will cover the importance of prebiotics and their role in maintaining a well-balanced gut and overall microbiome.

Related Posts

Herd Handling Techniques and Their Effects on the Immune System

Stress and Cortisol Can Undermine Your Herd Vaccination Programs

Prebiotics: What They Are and What They Do

Understanding Adaptive Immunity

By | Acidosis and Shipping Fever, Branding, Cattle, Cow-Calf, Pre-Conditioning | No Comments

The Adaptive Immune System:

What It Is and How It Works

The immune system. It’s an abstract concept that, at best, is confusing.

It’s common knowledge that the immune system protects against disease-causing pathogens. For instance, a cut may become contaminated with foreign material such as dirt or debris that contains bacteria.

The immune system then detects a threat, kicks in, and sends an army of different cells to mop up the damage and kill off the invading germs.

This type of immune response is the perfect answer when there is an immediate threat; the body does what it must to take care of the pressing possibility of infection.

In a perfect universe, a basic immune response would eliminate any threat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

So, what about when the body is exposed to specific pathogens time and time again? This is where the adaptive immune system gets its chance to take the wheel, or in some cases, work alongside the innate immune system.

A Closer Look at Adaptive Immunity

Every creature on the planet must carry some sort of immunity that allows it to fight off disease that can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi. From insects to elephants, they must have a strong immune system in order to thrive.

Babies of all species are born with a small amount of immunity (innate immunity) and receive a major boost from the colostrum they get from their mothers in the first days of life.

This immunity allows them to contend with minor infections and helps them to resist common, everyday pathogens. What they are lacking is the more specific responses of adaptive immunity. This is where time, exposure and vaccinations come in.

Each time the body is exposed to a new pathogen, the adaptive immune system “remembers” it and develops specific antibodies to destroy that disease. For instance, childhood chickenpox is only contracted once (in most cases).

Once the body has recovered from a disease, it then recognizes and ideally develops specific antibodies to prevent infection by that disease from ever occurring again. The next time exposure occurs, the adaptive immune system will recognize the virus and be lying in wait to kill it off before it can cause infection again.

Vaccinations work from this principle. A weakened, modified or killed version of a disease is introduced into the body. It elicits a response from the immune system to take care of the invading pathogen.

Because it is not a full-blown version, it does not cause clinical illness. It does, however, pack enough of a punch to make the body recognize it and build antibodies to protect against future infection from the pathogen.

Unfortunately, the body doesn’t just come by strong adaptive immunity. There are a few factors that help determine whether an individual’s immune system will be able to properly develop antibodies. The most important of these factors is digestive integrity.

While it may sound odd, most of the immune system develops in and is dependent on a strong digestive system.

Leaky gut syndrome and acidosis can wear down the body’s ability to create effective defenses. This, in turn, leads to an inability to develop strong, disease-specific antibodies, opening the animal up to the possibility of serious disease.

What Does This Have To Do With Cattle?

In the case of cattle, a focused protocol that encourages the growth and support of beneficial gut flora is key. Maintaining a thriving colony of beneficial microbes relies heavily on a balanced pH.

Although any species can experience acidosis, cattle are arguably one of the most impacted by this condition.

By keeping acidosis from developing, a cow has a much greater chance of being healthy and maintaining a strong adaptive immune system.

Want to learn more about how you can help your cattle thrive? Check out what CattlActive can do for you!

Related Posts

Herd Handling Techniques and Their Effects on the Immune System

Stress and Cortisol Can Undermine Your Herd Vaccination Programs

The Immune Stress of Transportation and Poor Husbandry

Heat Stress and Your Cattle

By | Cattle, Cow-Calf, Pre-Conditioning | No Comments

Heat stress is an age-old problem and can have a detrimental impact on your herd. Your cattle may be particularly sensitive to high dew points and extreme temperatures, resulting in heat stress. This only worsens if there is no significant cooling period after the sun goes down and throughout the night. Essentially, this will guarantee that they won’t have any opportunity to cool down, putting a great deal of strain on their bodies and resulting in heat stress.

What to Watch For

Heat stress isn’t difficult to spot — it’s very obvious when an animal is in distress. They will display symptoms such as:

Early stage heat stress:

  • increased respiratory rate
  • open-mouth breathing
  • slobbering

Should the heat stress advance, cattle are likely to:

  • lose coordination
  • tremble
  • stagger

If a cow goes down as a result of heat stress, the chances of them getting back up and being able to recover are very, very low.

How to Avoid Heat Stress in Your Herd

To help your herd transition through these relentlessly warm days and nights, we’ve provided a short (but thorough) list of things you can do to safeguard your cattle. If your cattle are showing signs of heat stress, it’s integral that you provide immediate intervention. If possible, help the process in the evening after the sun has set to help them maintain a fairly natural heat dissipation pattern.

Keep water fresh and provide additional water sources. If your cattle are on pasture, give them access to more water. For example, if there is only one tank in each pasture, add one or two more spaced out a bit. Stay on top of the water — make sure it is clean, free of foreign material and top it up regularly.

Keep handling to a minimum, or avoid it altogether, if possible. This includes moving, processing or transporting your cattle. If it’s absolutely necessary, work during the early morning hours when the temperatures will be at their lowest for the day. Always try to practice low-stress handling techniques, but especially during inclement weather, such as extreme heat.

Provide adequate shade. This is sometimes easier said than done, but your herd’s well-being depends on being able to seek relief from the sun’s burning rays. Dark-colored, young and old cattle have a particularly difficult time handling the direct sun. The easiest ways to provide shade are to move your cattle to pastures that provide natural tree cover or even holding pens that offer open buildings.

Create adequate air flow in enclosed barns. If you keep your animals in a setting such as a dairy operation or feed beef cattle indoors, be sure that there is adequate ventilation. If possible, open up the sides of the barn or use fans to keep the air moving through the structures. If possible, move any cattle that don’t need to be indoors to outside pens with shade. Overcrowding can push the temperatures up even more. In humid areas, refrain from using sprinklers, as this can raise humidity levels, but do little to help cool the cattle themselves.

Keep an eye out for unusual behavior. As with any animal, stress combined with heat can be a recipe for disaster. If your herd becomes stressed for some reason, watch carefully for unusual behavioral patterns (moving around too much, or not enough; aggression; lethargy, etc.).

Always be prepared. The worst thing you can do is enter into the hot summer season unprepared. For instance, have a contingency plan should your well or water source become unavailable. Be sure you have the ability to obtain enough water to keep your herd adequately hydrated. Should power go out in your fan-cooled buildings, make sure you have adequate outdoor space you can transfer your cattle into or that you have functioning backup generators to power the cooling system.

Keeping an eye on resources such as heat index maps can help ensure that you’re a step ahead of the weather. Keeping your cattle cool and healthy may take some extra effort but in the end will be well worth the effort.

Related Posts

Herd Handling Techniques and Their Effects on the Immune System

Stress and Cortisol Can Undermine Your Herd Vaccination Programs

The Immune Stress of Transportation and Poor Husbandry

Mineral Supplementation: A Summer Essential

By | Cattle, Cow-Calf, Pre-Conditioning | No Comments
It’s hot. Your cattle sweat. They need to consume more water. Because of this, they also need to be receiving adequate mineral supplementation to maintain proper balances to thrive. Minerals provide a wide array of necessary nutrients, from electrolytes to maintain adequate hydration and cardiovascular function to calcium for strong bones. It may be hard to keep up with the demands of checking and filling feeders or replacing blocks regularly, but it’s in your best interest to ensure your cattle have 24/7 access to adequate mineral supplementation.

Choosing the Right Supplements

It can be daunting to figure out which minerals your cattle need and which they don’t. It all comes down to the feed they’re consuming, the presence of naturally occurring minerals in the water source, etc.

  • Forage. Forage contains many different minerals your cattle may need. Depending on what the forage is, what type of soil it’s grown in and so on, it can be determined what gaps you need to fill. Testing is available on hay or pasture to determine what the nutrient content (including minerals) is present in your feed. Soil testing may also provide you with valuable information on what your land is capable of providing.
  • Concentrated feed. Concentrated feeds are often fortified with vitamins and minerals. The labeling on these feeds should include the different mineral contents. Depending on how much concentrated feed you’re offering, you may need to supplement or scale back mineral supplementation.
  • Water. Some areas produce water that is naturally rich in certain minerals. If your cattle drink consistently from the same well, creek or municipal water source it would be prudent to have the water tested for mineral content. As an aside, it’s important to note that water with strange odors or objectionable flavors (such as water with a high sulfur content) may discourage adequate water intake. Water additives can help increase palatability and thus, consumption.

Mineral Supplementation

Once you’ve determined which gaps you need to fill in your cattle’s mineral profile you can begin supplementing. In many cases standard mineral blocks are adequate. This is a convenient way to supplement cattle on range or pastureland that are eating a diet of grass and forage. If you’re keeping cattle in this setting, place the blocks in areas where they spend a lot of time. These can include areas near water sources, shady areas, loafing sheds, etc. This allows them maximum opportunity to consume optimum quantities. A common rule of thumb for free-access is to have one mineral station for every 30 head. If you are feeding a concentrated diet, you can use a feed additive with the right mineral balance to meet your cattle’s needs. Some companies will create customized mineral supplements to meet the specific needs of your cattle and their environment.

Observing Mineral Consumption

It’s important to keep an eye on how well your cattle are consuming their mineral supplements. Replace them as needed to ensure that there is always a constant supply. It can become tricky if your veterinarian has recommended medications to include in a mineral combination. This will make it even more important to observe consumption to ensure that your cattle are receiving not only adequate minerals but also the proper amounts of medication. If those medications include antibiotics, you’ll need to establish a “Veterinary Feed Directive” (also known as a VFD). Your herd veterinarian can work with you on determining what is right for your herd’s management.

Proper mineral supplementation can mean the difference between your cattle thriving or merely surviving. Taking the time now to ensure your animals are receiving what they need will eventually find its way to a healthy bottom line.
Related Posts

Emergency! Are You Prepared?

By | Cattle, Horses | One Comment

Tornadoes. Floods. Fires. These are all terrifying events that can cause a great deal of devastation. As a horse or livestock owner, you have probably considered what you might do in the case of an emergency. You might even have an emergency procedure outlined. If not, it’s important to have a concrete plan should such an occasion ever arise.

Making a Plan

It may seem like a daunting task, but creating a thorough emergency plan could save you lots of time, heartache and money in the event of a disaster. The Center for Food Security and Public Health at the University of Iowa has created an excellent printable checklist to get your plan in order. Some of the things they recommend include:

  • Assessing your animals’ housing. Is it indoors, outdoors or both? Do these areas pose any threat to the animals’ well-being in the event of an emergency?
  • How many animals do you have on your property? Do you know where each of them is located at any given time?
  • Are they all clearly marked with brands or ear tags? Do you have vaccination and health records? How about records of ownership in the event that they become lost?
  • What are your plans for alternate water or feed sources? Would you have access to alternate power sources, as well?
  • Prepare an evacuation kit. This includes everything from buckets, supplements, and medications to flashlights and a storm radio.
  • Know where you’ll evacuate your animals to and ensure that you have adequate transportation such as trucks and trailers that would be available in case of such an event.
  • In the event that you wouldn’t be evacuating, be sure that areas that your animals would be dwelling or moved to are safe and secure for the duration of the emergency (for instance, finding high enough ground during a flood to move and hold them at).

Other Emergency Plan Considerations

While you’re laying out your livestock emergency plan, consider developing one for your pets at the same time. Most of us already have a disaster plan in place for our family, but often times the pets get forgotten in the mix. Prep4threats.org has great resources and suggestions for helping you get organized in case you need to move your pets quickly. They cover everything from planning transportation for those unusual critters (think fish and guinea pigs) to making sure your dog or cat is microchipped.

You can’t prevent emergencies and disasters from occurring, but with some careful planning and preparing, you can ensure that you and your animals are ready for whatever might blow your way.

Related Posts

How to Minimize Travel-Related Ulcers in Horses

Keeping Your Horse Hydrated on the Road

Herd Handling Techniques and Their Effects on the Immune System

Securing Herd Health for Vaccination Efficacy

By | Acidosis and Shipping Fever, Branding, Cattle, Cow-Calf, Pre-Conditioning | No Comments

Stress on cattle is inescapable. Just as with humans, daily occurrences can create stress reactions. In cattle, the long-term effects can have detrimental effects on herd health, including reduced milk production and quality; poor weight gain and vitality; reduced immunity to both common and less common pathogens; lower-grade meat; and, ultimately, lower bottom lines.

In a Catch 22-like scenario, the healthiest and strongest cattle are those that have high functioning immune systems. In order to support that high level of functionality, they most benefit from a well-planned vaccination program. Thus, in order for the vaccination program to work, herds must be in the best possible health prior to receiving vaccinations. This is where proper herd management comes into play.

The most effective way to ensure that a herd is primed and ready for vaccinations is to address their rumen health. As mentioned above, rumen pH is perhaps the most important factor in maintaining a viable and highly functioning rumen. Key points for maintaining a healthy rumen include:

  • Avoiding stressful situations for the cattle that will consequently increase cortisol release.
  • Feeding a balanced diet that promotes beneficial microbial growth within the rumen.
  • Maintaining a proper pH balance within the digestive system.
  • Encouraging adequate hydration.
  • Reducing the use of antibiotics when possible.

The bovine digestive system and immune system are indivisible. When they are both working at their optimum levels, they ensure disease resistance and stress resilience. Through careful behavioral and dietary management, every herd has the potential for top production and healthy profit margins.

Related Posts

Prudent Use of Antibiotics for Vaccine Efficacy

Prebiotics: What They Are and What They Do

Herd Handling Techniques and Their Effects on the Immune System

>