Dr. Barz: An ounce of prevention
The last two weeks have been phenomenal for the beef producer. All of a sudden there are no fat cattle in the country. This has increased the market substantially. With the increase in slaughter prices, the feeder prices have also risen. No one has any real reason for the increase or understands how long it will last, but everyone marketing cattle is excited. Couple this rally with the slump in the corn prices and soon everyone will be feeding cattle again. While making several feedlot visits last week, I saw an electrical sign posting the corn price at $2.91. I knew this isn’t good for row crop farmers, but what’s happened the last few years hasn’t been good for the beef producers. Will cash rents and pasture rents decrease?
We need to plan our turnout strategies to eliminate pasture problems we have had in the past. Many producers have been using Long Range as a means of controlling internal and external parasites. The carrier of this product allows for a double release of the insecticide. Initially the product is released after injection, but a portion is stored in an encapsulated chemical cocoon which dissolves several months later increasing the circulating insecticide. Initially the product was sold as a means to add extra pounds to the calf. The guarantee, which is still used today, was ‘if the pounds garnered by the calf isn’t enough to pay for the product. We have used the product on many herds and only one client exercised his right for refund.
New data, some done right here in South Dakota, exhibits over forty pounds of gain on the cows on pasture, versus untreated cows. This weight gain should help assure better reproductive rates, as well as increased calf weights due to better milk production. Another concern is fly control. Producers using Long Range report decreased fly population on the herd. These animals graze continually on prairie grasses while untreated animals in neighboring pasture are grouped and swatting flies. The phenomenon was not part of the initial labeling and not on the present label, but company representatives say the label is being rewritten and will be present on next years product.
Pinkeye is also a common summertime problem. When I went to school, it was caused by a bacterium called Moraxella bovis. This bacteria was then placed into several commercial vaccines. Soon we had a problem called winter pinkeye. This began in the summer, but continued into the feedlots after weaning. It also was very resistant to treatment. Culturing infected eyes resulted in a new pathogen, Moraxella bovaculi. Autogenous bacterins have been produced with good success. Sometimes we still had problems in spite of vaccinations. Culturing has now yielded a new organism, Mycoplasm bovoculi. As you can see, this once simple problem is becoming more and more complex.
Pasture pneumonia has always been a problem. Recent tabulation of samples submitted to SDSU last year indicated no viral causes from the common viruses found in vaccine, IBR, PI3, BVD, BRSV. Several of our producers have had problems caused by Corona virus. We normally think of Corona as a scour organism, but it may also cause respiratory problems. There is a new respiratory Corona virus vaccine. I have no experience with the product, but it may be cost effective if you have problems. In Europe Corona virus and BRSV (Bovine Respiratory Syncicial Virus) appear to cause similar symptoms and lesions, and may occur concurrently.
Once we move our beef herds to pasture, it is tough to doctor or handle them. We must prevent common problems to assure maximizing efficiency. Consult with your nutritionalist, extension specialist, and veterinarian to devise a plan for your herd. As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound cure. This will allow you to market more high quality calves this fall, improving the profitability of your operation.
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