The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


April 6, 2013

Spring time for calf health programs

ENID, Okla. — Spring is the time cattle producers concern themselves with the health programs of a new calf crop or newly purchased stocker cattle to be put on spring and summer grass.

Health programs are an important part of any cattle operation. They impact animal productivity and well-being, producer profitability and consumer acceptance of beef products.

Quality health programs have several different facets including proper nutrition, general management, and of course, the use of vaccinations and antibiotics to prevent and treat diseases.

Calves still nursing their mother initially are protected by the cows’ colostrum, antibody enriched milk letdown by the cow immediately after calving. But ultimately, calves should receive initial vaccinations to protect them and their herd mates from diseases common to cattle. Other vaccinations should follow at varying times of the production cycle.

Newly purchased calves typically come with uncertain health histories so producers must be aware that unless otherwise known, it is best to assume all calves need high levels of nutrition and vaccinations as initial preparation for the challenges of disease and the stress of a new home.

Adequate feedstuffs that appropriately match the animals’ requirements for maintenance and growth are prerequisite, and sick animals whose dietary intake is usually less than that of a healthy animal must have special attention given their feed.

Regardless of their health status, all animals require minimum levels of protein, energy, vitamins and minerals. A concern for producers with recently purchased cattle is whether the calves recognize feed for what it is, so rations must be palatable to attract cattle to eat.

Vaccines and antibiotic treatments for sick cattle are administered through injections. Very infrequently, but unfortunately, injection lesions result causing blemishes in the carcass and sometimes visible knots on the live animal.

Twenty years ago beef quality audits assessed the incidence of these lesions at approximately 20 percent. Today that incidence is closer to two percent. That reduction is the direct result of producer education programs that brought attention to the prevalence of the problem and a solution for it.

Nelson says it was once common for necessary injections to be administered in muscles of the top or bottom rump areas of the animal. They were convenient and relatively safe sites for producers, and the animals.

What producers did not know until beef quality assurance programs began to audit such things, was that millions of dollars were annually lost to the beef industry due to negative effects on beef carcasses, lost product that had to be trimmed, and the labor costs to do it.

Injections now are recommended to be given in the neck area subcutaneously or intramuscular as directed by the product label and veterinary advice. Of course, proper hygiene, equipment and technique are required.

Sill, occasional knots will be visible in the neck following injection of some vaccines, knots that have always resulted, but were hidden deep in the muscles of the rump. Cattlemen realize today, though, that such knots are not defects in the cattle, but only evidence that the animal has been vaccinated. These knots do not affect carcass quality.

The health of animals also is affected by the general management of producers. That management includes how gently the animals are handled at processing or during feeding. Inappropriate handling increases the stress experienced by the cattle leading to reductions in feed intake, immune function and the ability of the animal to resist disease.

Producers who want more information on animal health programs should contact their Oklahoma State University Extension office or their local veterinarian.  

Nelson is Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service ag educator for Garfield County.

Text Only
  • farm - Rick Nelson web.jpg Wheat tour to provide crop information

    Damage to wheat from the recent freeze will depend on growth stages and temperatures. It will take approximately seven to 10 days following a freeze to determine damage.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • FFA logo.jpg Drummond students receive honors

    Several members traveled to Alva for the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Interscholastic Contest.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • farm - garber ffa web.jpg Garber FFA members place in speech contests

    The Ag 1 quiz bowl team placed fourth and qualified for state. On the second day of the event, the animal science quiz bowl team placed second and qualified for state.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Danna Zook cutout web.jpg Producers need to consider cow supplements

    Springtime for many Oklahoma producers often means calving time.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Master Gardener logocmyk.jpg It’s time to dirty hands

    Bees are venturing out to visit the new flowers. Keep a close watch on your garden. Often, helpful pest-destroying insects are out, getting ready to work for you, also. These, and the bees helpfully pollinating flowers, shouldn’t be discouraged by the undiscriminating spraying of insecticides.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • farm - 4H web.jpg 4-H’ers meet with state lawmakers

    Sen. Eddie Fields spoke to the group upon their arrival at the Capitol.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Canola tour to have stops in area

    The tour will be held at the canola field of Flying G Farms located 91⁄2 miles west of Orienta on U.S. 412 and then north into the field.

    April 12, 2014

  • farm - Rick Nelson web.jpg Money up front can mean bigger returns later

    Implants are a safe, effective technology that typically offer a 10-to-1 return on investment.

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • FFA logo.jpg 9 area students to receive WLC program scholarships

    FFA members will tour our nation’s capital, visit with members of Congress and perform a service learning project within the Washington area, while building friendships with fellow FFA members from across the nation.

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • FFA logo.jpg NW Oklahoma FFA members named proficiency finalists

    Three finalists are selected in each of 49 agricultural proficiency award categories. The state winner in each area will be announced April 30 during the 88th State FFA Convention held at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads