Raising Cattle Lets Talk Nutrition Plus Health

Make the most of your cattle operation and kick-start calf health.

Raising cattle up the right way means you have several irons in the fire, at the same time. Every step matters from the start.

“If we handle things the right way from the beginning, [cattle] should finish the right way in the end,” said Jess Hinrichs, DVM, Zoetis technical service veterinarian, during a virtual media roundtable event. “They’re not going to perform if they’re not being well taken care of.”

By ensuring the nutrition and health of their cattle herd, producers can garner a number of benefits. This can include sale-day premiums; improved performance and genetic potential; greater profitability; and a reputation for running a class-act cattle operation, from which folks want to purchase their calves.

NUTRITION -- good, bad or otherwise, nutrition impacts everything. 

Nutrition can have a positive or negative effect, impacting cattle by way of health, gain, reproduction, vaccine and stress response, and more.

“Nutrition can influence everything we do. Cattle with a good plane of nutrition will have a better opportunity to maintain healthy status,” Hinrichs said. “If cattle do not have a good plane of nutrition, they are not going to do well with stress, and it also changes their ability to respond positively to vaccinations. It also can influence their growth and response to disease challenges.”

Dr. Hinrichs reiterated how there simply is no one-size-fits-all nutritional approach for every operation. Given the range of growing seasons across the country -- impacted heavily by weather -- he encouraged producers to, “Make the best use of the resources you have. Testing the feedstuffs can be an important part of that. There is a great variation within feedstuffs. Seek professional help from a nutritionist; they do a great job helping us out to provide the best nutrition.”

HEALTH -- know your herd’s health risks, and protect against them.

“As we look at the health management programs of cattle, we need to assess the risk imminent to our herd, related to geography and exposure,” Dr. Hinrichs said.

As an example, he stated how anaplasmosis and other diseases may pose greater risk to some areas than others, and recommended producers take the following steps to ensure their herd’s health.

  • Assess threats based on geography and risk
  • Know endemic diseases in your area
  • Implement biosecurity measures
  • Reduce exposure to other herds
  • Identify threats through post-mortem exams
  • Once you’re fully aware of disease threats your herd is up against, ensure your vaccination protocols are up to snuff to give cattle the ultimate level of protection. Make sure to protect the reproductive performance of your cows and prevent respiratory disease from impacting your herd.

    “To keep the calf healthy, No. 1, you’ll need to prevent respiratory disease -- the No. 1 cause of financial loss and death loss in the cattle industry,” Dr. Hinrichs said. “Making correct vaccine selection choices is very important. The Bovi-Shield line of vaccines, and CattleMaster line of vaccines, can be implemented into any cowherd. I encourage producers to work with a veterinarian to determine which products will work best in each production system. If we vaccinate the right way, we’ll end up with a calf that is protected.”

    Vaccinate the right way by:

  • Prioritizing timing -- get ahead of disease exposure risk, and vaccinate healthy animals.
  • Ensuring proper handling -- during processing, how vaccines and cattle are handled can impact how cattle respond to the vaccine.
  • In summation, Dr. Hinrichs encouraged cow/calf producers not to underestimate the value of deworming cattle and implanting as part of their management program.

    “Deworming is very important to their productivity and keeping those calves healthy,” Dr. Hinrichs said, continuing with, “The more efficient use of feed resources is only one advantage to implanting, which also means we have more profitability. If we keep calves healthy, then performance, efficiency and profitability will come.”

    “With the help of sound management decisions and great nutrition and vaccination programs, producers can strive to have the healthiest herd possible, which will in turn help ensure their ranch is as profitable as possible for the generations to come,” said Arnold Nagely, DVM, co-founder of Valley Vet Supply.

    Continue learning and help ensure your herd’s health at ValleyVet.com.

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