October’s timely tips

By Dr. Roy Burris, University of Kentucky Beef Extension

Spring-calving herds

• Schedule a pregnancy examination of cows if not done previously. Winter feeding costs can be minimized by eliminating open cows prior to winterfeeding.

• If you have already done a preweaning working, revaccinate (booster) calves as needed. Treat calves for internal and external parasites. If you vaccinate calves yourself, be sure to store, handle and administer vaccines properly.

• Wean calves before cows lose body condition.

• Obtain weaning weights of your calves and enter. Weaning is the time to do your first round of culling and selecting breeding stock. You can eliminate obviously inferior calves, especially those with wild or nervous dispositions. Consider the number of heifers that you will need to save for your cow herd. Bulls which are old, unsound, roguish, etc. can be culled now. It is not too early to begin thinking about replacements now.

• Use a good record keeping program. Keep good records and treat your cow-calf operation like a business.

• Evaluate the body condition of your cows and improve their condition prior to winter.

Fall-calving herds

• The calving season should be in full swing for fall calvers. Check cows frequently. Identify calves and commercial males should be castrated and implanted.

• It is time to get everything ready for the fall-breeding season, too. Line-up semen, supplies, etc. now and get your bulls ready to go (don’t forget their breeding soundness evaluation).

• Put fall-calving cows on accumulated pasture before the breeding season. This has generally been a good year for moisture. Be sure to save some grass in the breeding pastures.

• Obtain yearling measurements (weight, hip height, scrotal circumference, etc.) on replacement animals—especially for registered ones, check pelvic areas, too.


• If you are purchasing weaned/stressed calves, have your receiving/feeding program in place. Feed a stress ration which contains at least 13% protein and is fairly energy dense.

• Manage to keep newly weaned and/or purchased calves healthy. Calves should be penned in a small lot with adequate feed, water and shade to reduce stress. Careful handling and comfortable, uncrowded conditions can decrease stress.

• When newly-weaned calves are purchased in the fall, sickness and death loss can be a big problem. Work with your veterinarian on a health and receiving program. Consider purchasing CPH-45 feeder calves which are preweaned, vaccinated, bunk-adjusted and treated for parasites.

• Watch calves closely for a few weeks after their arrival. Have a treatment program ready for any health problems. Early recognition of sick cattle improves their chance of recovery. Watch for drooped ears, hollow appearance, reluctance to rise, stiff gait, coughing and dull or sunken eyes. A good “receiving” program is essential to profitability.

General Reminders

• Remove fly-control eartags from all animals, dispose of according to instructions on package. Treat for grubs/lice.

• Avoid prussic acid poisoning which can happen when frosts rupture the plant cells in sorghums, sorghum-sudan hybrids, sudangrass and johnsongrass releasing prussic (hydrocyanic) acid. Fields can be grazed after the plants have dried up after a frost. New growth that occurs in stalk fields is potentially dangerous whether frosted or not.

• Take soil samples for soil analysis to determine pasture fertility needs. Apply phosphate, potash and lime accordingly.

• Test hay quality and make inventory of hay supplies and needs. Make adjustments now – buy feed before you run out in the winter.

• Do not harvest or graze alfalfa now in order for it to replenish root reserves.

Read the full article at http://www.cattlenetwork.com/advice-and-tips/drovers-cowcalf/octobers-timely-tips?ss=advice_and_tips,drovers_cow/calf

5 questions to ask before grazing corn stalk residue

5 questions to ask before grazing corn stalk residue

Here are five questions to ask before turning the cows on stalks, including: 

1. What’s left in the field? 

After the corn crop has been harvested, it’s good to know what’s left for grazing. It’s estimated that approximately 50% of the weight of the total corn plant remains in the stalk, leaf, cob and husk components. According to a report from Iowa State University’s Extension Beef Center, “For each bushel of shelled corn produced per acre, 50 pounds of residue is also produced. For example, an acre yielding 120 bushels of shelled corn per acre will produce approximately 6,000 pounds of corn residue.”

2. How long will it last?

With good weather conditions, it’s reasonable to assume that 1 acre of corn residue will provide 60 days of grazing for a 1,000-pound animal, according to the report. In the article from Iowa State University, “Mature cows in the middle trimester of gestation that are in desirable body condition typically maintain their body weight and may gain up to 1 pound per head daily. As the grain component is consumed and availability of husks and leaves declines, protein supplementation may be needed to maintain body condition.”

3. When should I supplement?

Fall calving cows may need protein and energy supplementation, and because corn stalk residue is typically low in a number of minerals as well as vitamin A, a balanced mineral and vitamin mix should be offered free choice. According to the report, “To determine if supplementation is necessary, observe the manure. If little or no corn is visible, protein supplementation should be considered. Sources include alfalfa, corn gluten feed, distillers’ grains.

4. How can I extend the grazing time?

Cattlemen should consider strip grazing to make the corn stalks last longer and offer a more uniform quality of diet. Limiting the amount of stalks the herd can graze at once will force them to be more efficient and consume both the high and low-quality components of the residue. Strip grazing can also limit the damage on the field due to mud or icy conditions.

5. Should I be worried about nitrate toxicity?

According to the report, “Another issue can be nitrate toxicity—especially during drought conditions. The highest level of nitrate concentration in the corn plant is in the lowest part (18-24 inches) of the stalk. This area is typically the last to be grazed by cattle. Therefore, the potential for nitrate issues is unlikely. Soil compaction can also be a concern. Recent research from the Iowa State University Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture suggests that compaction is not an issue once the ground is frozen. Prior to freezing, there is potential for slight reduction in yield for no-till soybeans, although there was no difference in soybean yield in conventionally tillage systems.”


by   in BEEF Daily

Growing bred replacement heifers

By Glen Selk, Oklahoma State University

Bred replacement heifers that will calve in January and February need to continue to grow and maintain body condition.  Ideally, two year old heifers should be in a body condition score 6 at the time that their first calf is born.  This allows them the best opportunity to provide adequate colostrum to the baby, repair the reproductive tract, return to heat cycles, rebreed on time for next year, and continue normal body growth.  From now on until calving time, the heifers will need to be gaining 1 to 1 ½ pounds per head per day, assuming that they are in good boy condition coming out of summer.

Heifers will need supplemental protein, if the major source of forage in the diet is Bermuda grass or native pasture or grass hay.  If the forage source is adequate in quantity and average in quality (6-9% crude protein), heifers will needs about 2 pounds of a high protein (38-44% CP) supplement each day.  This will probably need to be increased with higher quality hay (such as alfalfa) or additional energy feed (20% range cubes) as winter weather adds additional nutrient requirements.

Wheat pasture (if adequate rainfall produces growth) can be used as a supplement for pregnant replacement heifers.  Using wheat pasture judiciously makes sense for pregnant heifers for two reasons.  Pregnant heifers consuming full feed of wheat pasture will gain at about 3 pounds per head per day.  If they are on the wheat too long, the heifers can become very fat and cause dystocia (calving difficulty.)  Also, the wheat pasture can be used for gain of stocker cattle or weaned replacement heifers more efficiently.  If wheat pasture is used for bred heifers, use it as a protein supplement by allowing the heifers access to the wheat pasture on at least alternate days. Some producers report that 1 day on wheat pasture and two days on native or Bermuda will work better.  This encourages the heifers to go rustle in the warm season pasture for the second day, rather than just stand by the gate waiting to be turned back in to the wheat.  Whatever method is used to grow the pregnant replacement heifers, plan to have them in good body condition by calving so that they will grow into fully-developed productive cows.

Read full article at http://www.cattlenetwork.com/advice-and-tips/cowcalf-producer/growing-bred-replacement-heifers

Management, health, and nutritional considerations for weaning calves … and potentially making you more money

By Karla H. Jenkins, Dee Griffin, Aaron Stalker- Nebraska-Lincoln Extension

Weaning time can be a stressful time for calves. Weaning calves at home and selling after the seasonal price pressure subsides can increase profitability. Reducing separation and handling stress, providing proper nutrition, and preconditioning against disease increases the value of the calves and improves their performance when they enter the growing and finishing period.

Using low-stress handling techniques to ease calves away from their mothers boosts the vaccinations calves were given before bull turnout. Vaccines should include: Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) virals including IBR (Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis), BVD (Bovine Virus Diarrhea), and BRSV (Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus); a BRD bacterial vaccine (examples include; Presponse, Pulmo-Guard, One-Shot, etc.) and a Clostridial such as a 7-Way Blackleg. Calves are very susceptible to parasites and an effective dewormer should be given as well. A growth implant approved for weaning calves will improve growth during the next 45 to 60 days post weaning for cattle not intended for replacement breeding stock.

Separating calves from their dams causes behavioral changes that lead to stress. Vocalization, walking fences, and reduced intake can all result in reduced performance and health concerns. Producers should choose the separation method that works best for their operation while taking as many precautions as possible to maintain performance and reduce illness.

• TRADITIONAL WEANING- Traditional weaning is defined as separating the cows and calves abruptly without any residual contact. Calves may be moved away from the ranch, or they may be confined to a dry lot or a small pasture while the cows are taken away from the immediate area. Traditional weaning results in vocalization and fence walking which can last up to 3 days.

• FENCELINE WEANING – Fenceline weaning (placing cows and calves on opposite sides of a fence) has been shown to result in fewer vocalizations, less fence walking, and more weight gain postweaning compared to traditional weaning of calves. Fenceline weaning works best using a tight, 4-5 strand barbwire fence, reinforced with woven wire or electric fence. However, successful fenceline weaning has been accomplished with two strands of electric fence. One key to successful fenceline weaning is ensuring the adjacent pastures share a fence long enough for the cows and calves to spread out and maintain relatively close physical proximity. The process takes about 5-7 days. Fenceline weaning is best accomplished by removing cows from the pasture the pairs were occupying rather than moving the calves to a new pasture because the calves are accustomed to the watering location and feeding facilities. Introducing pairs into the weaning pasture about 1 week prior to weaning is sufficient for calves to become familiar with the pasture. If calves are going to be supplemented, consider supplementing the pairs three days a week beginning about three weeks before weaning. This will teach the calves to eat supplement and familiarize them with the supplement truck.

• TWO-STEP WEANING – At the time of preconditioning, a plastic nose piece (sometimes called a “weaner”) is placed in the calf’s nose which allows the calf to graze and drink water, but prevents nursing (step 1). Calves are then returned to the cows for 10-14 days. After day 10 to 14 placement of the plastic nose piece, calves and cows are separated (step 2). Research has shown this method decreases vocalization and walking by cows and calves. At the time of dam and calf separation, calves and cows can be handled like that described in the “traditional” weaning method.

Nutrition is a key element in the weight gain and immune response of weaned calves. Milk is rich in energy, protein, and vitamins and minerals and needs to be replaced with high quality forage and possibly supplement to maintain preweaning nutrient intake. Fortifying the pre- and post- weaning diet with vitamins and minerals can contribute to improved immune function and reduced post- weaning sickness. Unlimited access to fresh, clean water is essential for weaned calves. If the post weaning water source is unfamiliar to the calves, make accommodations to familiarize the calves. Allowing the water source to overflow for a brief time may help calves find the water.

• WEANING ON GRASS – If calves are allowed to continue grazing after weaning, consider the nutrient content of the forage. Native range in the fall is…………………………………………

to read full article visit http://www.cattlenetwork.com/advice-and-tips/cowcalf-producer/management-health-and-nutritional-considerations-weaning-calves-%E2%80%A6

Long term management to reduce eye problems in cattle

Long term management to reduce eye problems in cattle

By: Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist

“Pinkeye has long been a costly nuisance to cattle producers.  Eye infections sometimes lead to partial or complete blindness in one or both eyes.  Reduced beef production in the form of lowered weight gain, milk production, body condition, and eventually even poorer reproduction can result from eye infections and lesions.  One of the culprits that initiates and spreads eye problems between herds and among herdmates is “Pinkeye” or more properly called Infectious Bovine Keratoconjnctivits.  An excellent Oklahoma State University fact sheet about the prevention and treatment of “Pinkeye” is available online at:


Iowa State University animal scientists analyzed field data from ISU herds and cooperator herds in 2003 through 2005.  They sought to estimate the genetic measurements that could aid in the selection of cattle resistant to Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IBK), commonly known as pinkeye.    They found a decrease in weaning weight of 30 pounds per calf infected with pinkeye.  The analysis of the field data revealed an estimate of 0.11 for heritability of resistance to pinkeye.  This estimate is considered to be of low heritability, which indicates that only slow progress can be made based on selection for IBK resistance.  It does mean that, over time, if we select replacements from cows that are not prone to having eye problems (especially pinkeye) we would be able to very gradually reduce the incidence of pinkeye in our herds.”………………

read the full article at http://feedlotmagazine.com/?p=6156