Cow/Calf Health Calendar
Tips for Beef Producers
Beef producers of the area received a good refresher on cowherd health from Larry Hollis, K-State's beef veterinarian. With spring calving season not that far off, now is the time to evaluate your cow herd to help make the calving season go smoother and set your cow herd up for success in the next breeding season. Hollis shared these management tips to assist over forty cow-calf producers have a more successful calving season.
Culling open, old, ornery, and oddball cows is especially vital during short forage years like this one. Secondly, females should be evaluated as to body condition score (BCS) between 4.5 and 5.5 during the final trimester. A higher body condition score allows for improved calving ease, along with higher quality colostrum. First-calf heifers should have a BCS of 5.5 to 6 before calving as they are still trying to grow, while also providing milk and preparing to rebreed. During the third trimester and at least 30 days prior to calving, producers should consider vaccinating to boost immunity and help the new-born calf resist scours. The immune response developed from the vaccination forms antibodies that pass from cow to calf through the colostrum.
Planning ahead of calving season to have a grass area that has been saved for calving and having several small birthing patches is beneficial to the health of the new calf versus calving in non-grass areas. Hollis advised producers to have clean obstetrical equipment located prior to calving. After the calf arrives safely, make sure the calf consumes at least one quart of colostrum within 4 to 6 hours of birth. This is also a good time to make sure the calf is getting up and around without any motor function problems. To get off to a really good start health-wise the calf should consume three quarts of colostrum within the first 24 hours of life as the calf absorbs very little antibodies after 24 hours of age.
Proper nutrition, good sources of clean water and attention to detail will help cattle stay healthier and to be ready to calf again within a year. The Cow/Calf Health Calendar of DVM Hollis can be viewed online at www.atchison.ksu.edu/.
Livestock issues of animal care, health, meat consumption were touched on by Eric Atkinson of K-State radio. Farmers were reminded they are key food producers but are only 2 percent of the US population. The majority of consumers do not understand where food originates and it is important for farmers to carry a positive message about farm life and the safe production of food.
The Atchison County Livestock Board and banks of Atchison County helped Extension to organize this educational program.