Monthly Archives: December 2007

Calf Scours: Causes and Treatment

Calf Scours: Causes and Treatment

Don Hansen, Extension Veterinarian, Oregon State University

There are several causes of disease and death in newborn calves. In many locations, the leading causes of beef-calf deaths are related to difficult births (dystocia). After that, however, the most common calfhood problems are infectious diseases. Of these, scours, or diarrhea, which occurs within the first several days of life, is the single most important cause of calf sickness and death in the United States. Almost no herd goes through a calving season without some scours. In severe outbreaks, the effects of scours in an individual herd can be overwhelming. Illness may occur in 70 percent of calves born and death may occur in 50 percent.


Winter Tetany – Frequently Asked Questions

Winter Tetany – Frequently Asked Questions

Ropin’ the Web

            What is Winter Tetany?

Winter tetany is a metabolic condition caused by lower than average blood magnesium (Mg) levels. This condition occurs when cattle consume poor quality hay or straw, that contain low levels of magnesium, or good quality cereal greenfeed or silage with high levels of potassium (K). High levels of potassium in the diet reduces the absorption of magnesium and calcium (Ca). Cattle depend upon a continual daily supply of magnesium and calcium from the digestive tract to maintain normal blood concentrations. Often in Alberta winter tetany is associated with feeding grain and straw or greenfeed based rations that contain low or borderline calcium and magnesium, and high potassium levels compared to the cow’s requirements.


Twelve Tricks For A More Effective 2008

Twelve Tricks For A More Effective 2008

Troy Marshall

Beef Magazine

Have you ever reached the end of a day, month or year, and set back and asked where all the time went? I’m guessing you started out with a definite “to-do” list and despite the fact you were busy and productive all day, your list was essentially the same size at day’s end. You spent your time, you just didn’t spend it on accomplishing your projects.

Life has many distractions. While some are unavoidable, a good number can be reduced. Experts say that identifying the most frequent sources of distractions in your day is the start of lowering their impact on your daily life.


Income Tax Rules For Weather Related Sales Of Livestock

Income Tax Rules For Weather Related Sales Of Livestock

Weather often raise havoc with the income stream on a farm. This year’s drought is no exception as livestock farmers wrestle with short feed supplies coupled with substantial increases in feed costs. A common response is to reduce herd size by selling more livestock than in a normal year. However, this has the potential of creating dramatically higher taxable income. To assist farmers with leveling such taxable income spikes, the federal tax code has two provisions (elections) that address the issue of increased income when forced to sell more livestock than normal because of a weather related situation.


Proposed ban on packer-owned cattle divides ranchers

Proposed ban on packer-owned cattle divides ranchers

NCBA calls limit unfair, R-CALF says it will improve competition

Wes Nelson

Capital Press

Like many a package under the Christmas tree, the Senate’s recent passage of the Farm, Nutrition and Bioenergy Act of 2007 didn’t please all members of the cattle industry.

Like the version passed by the House of Representatives (H.R. 2419) earlier this summer, the Senate farm bill contains some improvements for cattlemen, including a provision allowing interstate shipment of state-inspected meat. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association strongly supports the provision as a way for state-regulated businesses to better compete and for cattle producers and small local businesses to boost market-branded beef products.

It also improved “country-of-origin labeling” for which groups such as the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund/United Stockgrowers of America have lobbied hard. The so-called “COOL” law becomes mandatory in September.


Cattlemen want to throttle back biofuel

Cattlemen want to throttle back biofuel

NCBA urges focus on sustainable energy independence

Wes Nelson

Capital Press

Jimmy’s cracking corn for biofuels is hardly drawing apathy among members of the cattle industry.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is the latest industry group to air concerns as Congress completes energy legislation mandating that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels be produced by 2022, with 15 billion gallons of fuel coming from grain-based sources such as corn.

The bill differs from the current Renewable Fuel Standard, which calls for production of 7.5 billion gallons by 2012 – a significantly more manageable mark than the 36 billions gallons mandated by the new bill, NCBA spokesmen said.

NCBA members have adopted policy opposing increasing this government mandate.


Beef cattle conference scheduled

Beef cattle conference scheduled

Rowynn Ricks

Woodward News

The annual Northwest Oklahoma Beef Cattle Conference has been set for Jan. 8, 2008 at the Major County Fairgrounds in Fairview and Jan. 9, 2008 at the Woods County Fairgrounds in Alva.

The conference offers area cattle producers the opportunity to learn what to expect in the upcoming year as they listen to presentations given by professionals from the OSU Extension service, which sponsors the conference.


Pain Control In Food Animals Is A Growing Issue

Pain Control In Food Animals Is A Growing Issue

Beef Magazine

I can guarantee you that many in the 98% of society with no direct ties to agriculture see prevention or treatment of pain in farm animals as a moral issue. In fact, it’s possible that within the next 5-10 years, some type of analgesia will be required for castration of bull calves more than 60 days of age, and for dehorning.

This prediction may or may not be accurate, but will such an eventuality — if it comes — be at the design of the industry, or mandated by uninformed outside parties?


Evaluate Weaning Options

Evaluate Weaning Options

Historic management practices have evolved because they fit — fit the cattle, fit the forage supply, and/or fit available labor and management. But sometimes it pays to stop and look at alternative ways of doing things, either because the underlying situation has changed (short or long term), or because new information is available. One area that might benefit from periodic review is the timing and management of weaning calves.

“Early” weaning of calves takes in a fairly broad range of practices, and is often considered when forage supplies are, or are expected to be, in short supply, when hay costs are high relative to grain, or in response to seasonal changes in the market for weaned calves. Research shows that early weaning may also be justified by subsequent feedlot performance, or improvements in dam body condition and reproduction.


Web site gives advice on winter livestock forage

Web site gives advice on winter livestock forage

The Palladium Item

Indiana livestock producers have a new resource available to help them get through the winter with low forage supplies.

Purdue University Cooperative Extension specialists teamed to create the “Managing the Forage Shortage” Web site, available at

“The goal is to minimize the impact of this year’s low forage supply,” said Keith Johnson, Purdue Extension forage specialist. “If we can keep our livestock healthy through the winter, the impact will be confined to increased feed expenses and we will not have the negative aspects of poor animal performance in 2008 and lingering into 2009.”

The Web site features videos, news articles, publications, alternative feed profiles and contact information for local hay auctions. It also offers tips for rejuvenating forages after a difficult growing season, how to sample baled hay and crop residues, as well as advice for determining the animals’ body condition score.


Beef cattle producers need to do more planning than usual to get through this winter

Beef cattle producers need to do more planning than usual to get through this winter

Leland Tribune

North Carolina is still under severe drought conditions, and the feed supply is already getting very tight.  The growing season started with a late freeze which damaged many forage crops, and then the weather turned dry which further hurt pasture and hay production.

In 2007 there were 392,000 beef cows in North Carolina.  That does not make North Carolina a “major” beef cow state, but that is still a lot of cows, and they eat a lot of feed.


Crop input costs expected to soar

Crop input costs expected to soar

Agri News

Many experts are estimating that crop input costs for seed, fertilizer, pesticides and fuel for corn and soybean production this year will increase as much as 25 percent to 35 percent, says Kent Thiesse, vice president of MinnStar Bank in Lake Crystal.

That could increase per-acre production costs by $50-75 per acre or more for corn and $25-50 per acre for soybeans, he said.

This doesn’t include any potential added costs for fungicides to control soybean rust and other diseases or insecticides for soybean aphids. Thiesse said producers should look for opportunities in coming weeks to lock-in costs for seed, fertilizer, chemicals, fuel, drying gas and other expenses.


New state program aims to put more pounds on Missouri cattle industry

New state program aims to put more pounds on Missouri cattle industry

Ann Pierceall


A new program designed to beef up the cattle industry in Missouri is expected to start soon after the first of the year.

Proposed guidelines for the new Quality Beef Tax Credit Program for Missouri cattlemen have been drafted and await final approval by the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Authority.

Tony Stafford, executive director of the authority, and his staff have been working on the guidelines since Gov. Matt Blunt made them part of the state’s economic development bill in September.

“The intent of the program is to increase the amount of beef production in the state,” Stafford said.


10 Cattle Facts That Will Impress Your Friends From Yale

10 Cattle Facts That Will Impress Your Friends From Yale

The United States and Brazil are the top beef producing countries in the world.

In the US, Texas has the most beef cows.

Cattle outnumber humans in 9 states: Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.


Beef Checkoff Task Force looks at hike in rates

Beef Checkoff Task Force looks at hike in rates

By Heather Carlile

Agri News

A Beef Checkoff Task Force, put together by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, has made four recommendations to update the Beef Checkoff Program.

If followed, one of the suggestions would lead to the first national raise in the rate producers pay to the program in its 20-plus year history.

“The task force was an idea started at the grassroots level by some state cattlemen associations,” said Mike John, former president of the NCBA. “At their direction, NCBA initiated this industry-wide review because we believed it was important to provide a forum for all national organizations involved in the industry to discuss and develop recommendations to strengthen the promotion, education and research engine of the beef industry.”

The program collects $1 per head on all cattle sold in the country and $1-per-head equivalent on imported cattle, beef and beef products.


Crop residues can lose nutritional value

Crop residues can lose nutritional value

by Dave Russell

Brwonfield Network

There have been numerous times in recent weeks that we have talked about the need for some livestock producers turning to crop residues as a feed source this winter. Keith Johnson, Purdue University extension forage specialist says that’s not a problem as long as producers understand that the nutritional value of corn residues decline as time passes.


Does supplemental Vitamin A impact quality grade?

Does supplemental Vitamin A impact quality grade?

By Troy Smith

Beef Quality Connection

What child hasn’t been told to eat his or her carrots, because they promote good eyesight? It’s true of foods containing carotenes and carotenoids which are precursors of Vitamin A. Students of animal science learn early that Vitamin A may be of most practical importance to ruminant nutrition for other reasons too. Vitamin A is essential to normal growth, reproduction and maintenance. It plays a big role in the utilization of other nutrients. But levels of Vitamin A in the diets of finishing cattle may also influence carcass quality grade.

Don’t jump to conclusions. It’s not about boosting dietary Vitamin A to enhance marbling and increase the percentage of carcasses that grade Choice or better. Rather, typical finishing diets may contain too much Vitamin A. That might actually inhibit marbling and, perhaps, prevent animals from achieving their genetic potential for quality grade.


Gene Based Test For Johne’s Disease

Gene Based Test For Johne’s Disease

If you aren’t familiar with Johne’s disease–the most costly disease facing the dairy cattle industry right now–you aren’t alone.

Johne’s (pronounced YO-nees) disease, which costs the U.S. dairy industry more than $1.5 billion annually, is caused by a bacterium that infects ruminant animals. Mycobacterium paratuberculosis is related to, but different from, the organism that causes cattle tuberculosis.

USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring Survey (NAHMS) Dairy 1996 Study reports that 45 percent of dairy producers were either unaware of Johne’s disease or recognized the name but knew little about it.


Factors Drive up Costs of Crucial Animal Feed

Factors Drive up Costs of Crucial Animal Feed

Ventura County Star,

by Stephanie Hoops

Hay prices have climbed to extraordinary highs in Ventura County, say local horse and cattle owners.

“They’ve been rising for a while,” said Alexis Ells, who runs The Equine Sanctuary, a nonprofit horse rescue organization in Ojai.

“It’s this drought,” said Ventura cattle rancher Richard Atmore.

Both Ells and Atmore said the drought has caused local cattle ranchers to buy more hay because they have less natural forage.


Grazing corn stalks containing excess grain

Grazing corn stalks containing excess grain

The Breeders Connection

Extra grain left behind by the combine can be a bonus for cattle grazing corn stalks, but too much grain can cause health problems.

Any time more than about eight bushels of grain per acre is left in the field after harvest, grazing cattle risk getting acidosis and founder. Both diseases are caused by excessive grain intake, which increases rumen acid production. This can cause severe foot and hoof problems, including lameness. While smut is not a health problem, some grain may contain other molds that can produce mycotoxins. Vomitoxin and fumonisin rarely cause problems for beef cattle at typical contamination levels; however, aflatoxin may be more of a concern this year. (See story in this week’s CropWatch.) If you suspect mycotoxin may be present, assay the grain to determine the extent of the potential problem.