From flies, to heat, to anthrax, to pinkeye -- here are four health concerns producers should know about.
Summer is a season when the cattle typically are out grazing, and you relish the fact that there is no hay to feed. However, summer is also a time when calves and cows can experience health issues. When you’re checking the pasture and looking over pairs, here are four beef cattle health questions you should ask yourself this week.
1. Are Flies Bugging Your Cattle?
In the archives of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation is an old article about managing for flies, and even though it’s dated, the information is still pertinent. The article examines various fly control methods and explains the threat of these flies.
“It doesn't take a large number of flies to have an impact on your cattle's production,” writes Robert Wells for the Foundation. “As few as 100 to 200 flies per side are enough to impact stocker gains by 50 lbs. during the summer. This is greater than or comparable to the weight gain achieved through a growth implant program. If you can see more than a hand-sized patch of flies on each side, typically behind the shoulders, of your cattle, there are enough to be a problem.”
2. Is The Heat Weighing Your Herd Down?
It’s been a hot, dry summer in some areas of the country, and many cattle herds are feeling the heat. In Nebraska, several thousand head of cattle have died statewide in 2013 as a result of high heat, humidity and calm winds.
As reported by the Journal Star (Lincoln, NE), “Feedlot cattle are more vulnerable to heat waves, especially early heat waves without air movement, because thousands of them typically are grouped in unshaded pens in plump condition. Some feedlot operators use sprinklers to cool them down. But contingency measures sometimes backfire. Putting extra water tanks in the middle of pens, for example, can cause animals to cluster around the tanks and become victims of each other's body heat.”
3. Is Anthrax A Real Threat To Your Cattle?
The Rapid City Journal reports, “South Dakota State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven is urging ranchers to take steps to protect their cattle after a case of anthrax was confirmed in a calf in Turner County. It is the state's first confirmed case of the livestock disease this year.”
4. Is Pinkeye Plaguing Your Cows?
The economic damage that pinkeye causes can be dramatic. From pinkeye scars to lower weaning weights, this is definitely one health concern that troubles many herds.
According to The Western Producer, “Calves experiencing pinkeye weigh on average 30 lbs. less than calves not affected. Calves with both eyes affected had even more dramatic decreases in productivity. Their weaning weights were 40 lbs. less than calves not affected with pinkeye. Post-weaning data was available on many of the calves and although there were some compensatory gains, calves affected by pinkeye before weaning still weighed on average 15 lbs. less at 12 months of age.”
How are you coping with the heat and flies this summer? Are you battling any pinkeye? How about pneumonia? What health concerns are you most worried about this summer? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.