For producers this year, as with many, troubles seem to start and end each new endeavor.
Snowstorms and frigid temperatures throughout the winter caused many to become dangerously low on feed. Early spring snowstorms greeted producers in the beginning of their calving season and flooding saw them through until the end. Late spring saw cool temperatures and damp conditions that delayed grass growth on grazingland and stunted nature's ability to get rid of excess water on the land.
Now, as producers prepare to put their herds out to pasture, experts said they need to be aware of how all of these elements may come into play.
"It was a tough winter. The stress from the cold and the marginal feed at times have resulted in not enough colostrum getting to the calves so there has been above normal levels of pneumonia and scour recently," said John Dhuyvetter, livestock systems agent for North Dakota State University Extension Service. He added that run-down cows were also at greater risk of pneumonia and exhibited greater numbers of illness.
Compounding the problem is the fact that the last few years of drought have resulted in less nutritious forage, said Charles Stoltenow, NDSU vet.
"These animals are so strung out from winter and spring that their immune systems are not as strong as they should be so I expect to see an increase in pasture pneumonia, foot rot, pink eye and other common nagging ails so producers need to make sure these animals are getting a trace mineral and protein mix.''
Although most of the calves are now recovering, the effects of the harsh winter conditions may have some long-term ramifications, said Susan Keller, state veterinarian.
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