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, according to Kansas State University (K-State) beef cattle specialist Twig Marston.

Marston provides the following tips for producers to keep in mind as they manage their cow herd operations to maximize nutrition and health during the month of 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.
  • 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 the proper age range (4-10 months).
  • Continue anaplasmosis control program (consulting local veterinarian).

Marston also offers these tips for forage and pasture management during 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. Harvest Sudan and Sudan hybrids for hay in the boot stage [normally 3 to 4 feet (ft.) in height]. 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 recommendes that 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.”

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