Summer's hot dry weather can take a toll on cattle in the High Plains, but producers can take steps to keep health and productivity problems at bay, says Kansas State University beef cattle specialist Twig Marston. He provides the following tips for producers as they manage their cowherd operations to maximize nutrition and health during July:

  • Provide plenty of clean, fresh water.
  • Provide free-choice mineral to correct any mineral deficiencies or imbalances.
  • Monitor grazing conditions and rotate pastures, if possible and/or practical.
  • Ammoniation can increase the digestibility of wheat straw and other grass hays and crop residues. If planning ammoniated wheat straw for winter needs, keep in mind that:
    1. The best time to ammoniate is immediately after wheat harvest, prior to weather deterioration.
    2. The ammoniation process is temperature-sensitive, fastest during hot days.
    3. Apply 60 lbs. of anhydrous ammonia per ton of straw.
    4. Do not ammoniate wheat hay or any other intermediate or high-quality forage as production of imidazole, an organic compound, can cause hyperactivity and death.
    5. Process will double crude protein content, enhance intake and be cost effective.
More info about ammoniation treatment of low-quality forages is available at www.oznet.ksu.edu (type in FORA12 for a fact sheet or MF1073 for a publication in the search window). Or visit www.beefcowcalf.com and type "ammoniating forages" or "ammoniation" into the "Title search" box on the opening page.
  • Consider early weaning if drought conditions develop and persist.
  • Consider creep feeding only if cost-effective.
  • Monitor and treat pinkeye cases.
  • Control flies. Price and efficiency will dictate the best option(s) to use.
  • Monitor and treat foot rot cases.
  • Avoid handling and transporting cattle during the hottest part of the day to reduce heat stress.
  • Vaccinate replacement heifers for Brucellosis if within proper age range (4 - 10 months).
  • Continue anaplasmosis control program (consult local veterinarian).
Marston also provides these tips for forage and pasture management in July:
  • Check and maintain summer water supplies.
  • Place mineral feeders strategically to enhance grazing distribution.
  • Check water gaps after possible washouts.
  • Harvest hays in a timely manner; think quality and quantity. If possible, run a routine nitrate test on a field before harvesting hay.
  • Plan hay storage placement wisely. Putting hay conveniently near feeding sites reduces labor, time demands and equipment-repair cost.
Good general management practices, Marston says, also include heeding the old saying "Good fences and good brands make good neighbors." And he recommends producers check equipment such as sprayers, dust bags, oilers and haying equipment and then repair or replace them, as needed.

"Have spare parts on hand," Marston adds. "Down time can make a big difference in hay quality."

Editor's Note: For more on the above topics, visit www.beefcowcalf.com, a BEEF magazine resource for cow-calf producers that offers links to thousands of research papers and fact sheets on cow-calf production and management topics.
-- Kansas State University Extension news release