Clint Peck, the director of the Montana State University Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, has provided some timely suggestions to keep weaned calves from getting sick.

“A large part of BQA is prevention of disease so the animals under our care do not have to be treated after weaning, shipping or in the feedlot,” Peck said. Peck, a former county Extension agent and BEEF magazine senior editor, has provided a ten-point list of “weak links” in the chain of protecting cattle from disease at weaning.

1. Dust. Dust, he says, causes severe irritation to the upper respiratory tract and lungs and is a common problem in handling large numbers of cattle. “In most cases, it's not impossible to sprinkle the holding areas and corral pens to reduce dust,” he says.

2. Heat. Peck suggests that producers process cattle in the early morning, when possible. “Cattle tend to hold their body heat, so even if you work them in the early evening, when it may seem to be cooling down for you, they will still be retaining body heat,” he notes. “Any activity, or even just standing in the direct sun, will elevate their temperature and endanger their health.”

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