Benefits of Pre-Weaning Vaccinations in Beef Calves

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“Producers should consider vaccinating calves at 2 to 4 months of age, depending on the operation,” said Dr. DL Step, professional services veterinarian, Boehringer Ingelheim.

Colostrum consumed by a newborn calf provides protection against infectious diseases. However, this protection is only temporary, lasting a few weeks to months, and calves must start building their own immunities. Vaccination during this time of transition can help protect the calf until weaning age. The following are three key benefits of incorporating pre-weaning vaccinations on your operation.

  1. Reduced stress

During weaning, calves are faced with stressors such as castration, transportation, disease challenges, weather fluctuations, dietary changes and more. Stress can cause immunosuppression in a calf, decreasing its ability to respond to disease-causing pathogens and vaccines, making it susceptible to respiratory disease. “Early vaccination gives calves the opportunity to stimulate their immune systems to work at optimum levels,” said Dr. Step.

  1. Enhanced BRD and BVDV protection

Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is the top health and economic issue facing the beef industry today.3 Once calves are affected by BRD, there are both immediate and long-lasting effects on performance. Studies have shown that calves challenged by BRD could weigh up to 36 pounds less at weaning than their healthy herd mates. Early vaccination can help producers prepare calves for challenges they may face during weaning time, ensure calves are less susceptible to becoming infected with pathogens and have a more rapid immune response to the various pathogens that cause BRD.

Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV), another growing health issue in the cattle industry, can result in reproductive, digestive and respiratory problems in the herd. Once infected, calves can shed a high level of the virus, spreading the disease to other susceptible animals. Studies have demonstrated calves as young as 5 to 6 weeks of age can be effectively immunized against BVDV. “BVDV Type 1b has been identified as the most common subtype found in persistently infected calves, so make sure the vaccine you choose offers solid protection against it,” Dr. Step recommended.

  1. Cost effective

In the case of calf health, prevention is key. Calves affected by BRD can greatly reduce profits through poor performance and increased morbidity. The average cost of BRD in the U.S. cattle industry is more than $640 million annually. “When your calves are protected and healthy, it will show in their performance and well-being,” said Dr. Step.

Pre-weaning vaccination is an opportunity to provide additional comfort and protection for your calves. “Producers should work with their local veterinarian to develop a vaccination program catered to their environmental conditions and herd goals,” Dr. Step added. Read More…

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Older Americans are hooked on vitamins

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When she was a young physician, Dr. Martha Gulati noticed that many of her mentors were prescribing vitamin E and folic acid to patients. Preliminary studies in the early 1990s had linked both supplements to a lower risk of heart disease.

She urged her father to pop the pills as well. But a few years later, Gulati, now chief of cardiology for the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, found herself reversing course after rigorous clinical trials found neither supplement did anything to protect the heart. Even worse, studies linked high-dose vitamin E to a higher risk of heart failure, prostate cancer and death from any cause. “‘You might want to stop taking [these],’ ” she told her father.

More than half of Americans take vitamin supplements, including 68 percent of those 65 and older, a 2013 Gallup poll said. Among older adults, 29 percent take four or more supplements, according to a Journal of Nutrition study.

Often, preliminary studies fuel exuberance about a dietary supplement, leading millions of people to buy in to the trend. Many never stop. They continue even though more rigorous studies — which can take many years to complete -— hardly ever find that vitamins prevent disease, and in some cases cause harm. “The enthusiasm does tend to outpace the evidence,” said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

There’s no conclusive evidence that dietary supplements prevent chronic disease in the average American, Manson said. And while a handful of vitamin and mineral studies have had positive results, those findings haven’t been strong enough to generally recommend supplements, she said.

The National Institutes of Health has spent more than $2.4 billion since 1999 studying vitamins and minerals. Yet for “all the research we’ve done, we don’t have much to show for it,” said Dr. Barnett Kramer, director of cancer prevention at the National Cancer Institute.

Part of the problem, Kramer said, could be that much nutrition research has been based on faulty assumptions, including the notion that people need more vitamins and minerals than a typical diet provides; that megadoses are safe; and that the benefits of vegetables can be boiled down into a pill.

Vitamin-rich foods can cure diseases related to vitamin deficiency. Oranges and limes prevent scurvy. And research has long shown that populations that eat a lot of fruits and vegetables tend to be healthier than others.

But when researchers tried to deliver the key ingredients of a healthy diet in a capsule, Kramer said, those efforts nearly always failed. It’s possible that the chemicals in the fruits and vegetables on your plate work together in ways that scientists don’t fully understand, said Marjorie McCullough, strategic director of nutritional epidemiology for the American Cancer Society.

More important, perhaps, is that most Americans get plenty of the essentials. Although the Western diet has a lot of problems — too much sodium, sugar, saturated fat and calories, in general — it’s not short on vitamins. Read more…

Considerations during a prolonged housing period

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As a result of the prolonged period of housing, dairy cattle need to be monitored closely. Below are a number of key areas to watch out for this week.

1. Poor cow welfare

Farmers need to be vigilant for extreme losses in body condition, overcrowding and lameness. Get a fresh pair of eyes (e.g. your local vet or advisor) to look over the herd and advise on practical responses.

2. Mastitis

Monitor SCC (somatic cell count) results closely. All cows should be pre-stripped at each milking to ensure early detection of mastitis. Cows with clinical mastitis should be treated promptly.

3. Acidosis

Where greater than normal levels of concentrates are required because of a fodder shortage, slowly increase the level of meal fed. Where more than 6kg of concentrate is required daily, offer a third feed around mid-day.

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This will reduce the risk of acidosis, laminitis and displaced abomasum occurring. Feed a buffer – such as sodium bicarbonate (200g/head/day) or AcidBuf – if the forage is less than 50% of the total diet.

4. Lameness

Monitor the cows gait and stance closely. Identify lame cows for prompt examination / hoof treatment to minimise the impact of lameness on milk production and reproductive performance.

5. Calf scours and pneumonia

Prolonged housing of dairy calves leaves them at greater risk of acquiring scours or pneumonia – particularly in overstocked or poorly-ventilated accommodation.

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Monitor carefully and provide adequate bedding, ventilation and a run-out area to turn calves out to grass at the earliest opportunity. Read more…

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The unique nutrient requirements of cats

Cat with bird in a teeth.

It’s no secret that people love their cats. Today, cats are considered the world’s most popular pet. In 2016, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owner Survey estimated 94.2 million cats and 89.7 million dogs in the United States.

However, when compared to dogs, cats have unique nutritional and dietary requirements that require special attention. These requirements stem from the cat’s evolution from its strictly carnivorous ancestors and the nutrients supplied to them through the consumption of animal tissue.

Today, the average house cat lives a much more sedentary lifestyle and can thrive on a variety of diet types. But when it comes to formulating diets for cats, special attention needs to be paid to a few key nutrients that must be included in sufficient amounts to maintain optimal health. The unique nutritional requirements of cats are related to their requirements for protein, taurine, arginine, vitamin A, vitamin D, niacin and arachidonic acid.

Protein and amino acids

From a nutrient perspective, cats do not necessarily require an ultra-high protein diet, but they do have higher requirements for amino acids from dietary protein than dogs. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and certain amino acids can be produced by the animal (i.e. nonessential amino acids), while others can only be obtained from the diet (i.e. essential amino acids).

Cats require 10 nonessential amino acids and 11 essential amino acids. They also have a unique requirement for the amino acid taurine as well as a need for significantly increased levels of arginine compared to dogs.

Arginine

Research has shown that cats are sensitive to diets lacking arginine. A diet deficient in arginine has been shown to rapidly result in severe clinical symptoms in cats due to increased levels of blood ammonia.

Arginine is necessary for the detoxification of ammonia by converting it to urea for excretion in the urine. During a deficiency of dietary arginine, ammonia builds up and results in ammonia toxicity within the cat. Cats are unable to synthesize the precursors ornithine and citrulline, both needed for the production of arginine.

However, arginine is abundantly available in animal protein, and cats have evolved to be reliant on it from a dietary source.

Taurine

Similar to arginine, taurine is an amino acid that is readily found in meat protein. Dogs and other mammals are able to produce taurine through the oxidation of sulphur amino acids, cysteine and methionine. For cats, the enzymes necessary for these pathways have low activity levels, and as such, cats are limited in their production of taurine.

Dietary taurine is necessary in the diet for cardiovascular health, bile formation, retinal health, as well as proper growth and development in kittens. Symptoms of taurine deficiency include retinal degeneration and/or an enlarged heart, also known as dilated cardiomyopathy.
Vitamins

Vitamins are organic compounds necessary in minute amounts for proper regulatory function and health maintenance. Vitamins can be classified into one of two groups: fat-soluble or water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in fatty tissues, whereas water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored and are excreted in the urine if consumed in excess.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin necessary for bone health and development. Humans can produce vitamin D from exposure to sunlight or obtain the vitamin through food sources. Cats, however, are unable to synthesize vitamin D and depend solely on dietary sources.

A study investigating the exposure of both hairless and nonhairless kittens to direct sunlight demonstrated this lack of endogenous production. When the kittens were placed on a diet deficient in vitamin D they showed the same rate of vitamin D decline as kittens receiving the same diet but housed indoors.

Research has since concluded that cats’ skin has a low concentration of the precursor 7-dehydrocholesterol, necessary for the synthesis of vitamin D. Additionally, synthesis is prevented by the high activity of the enzyme responsible for breaking down this precursor substrate and converting it into cholesterol.

Historically, cats obtained their vitamin D from the liver of prey, such as birds and rodents. Commercial cat diets are typically supplemented with vitamin D to ensure adequate intake.

Vitamin A

Just like vitamin D, vitamin A is also a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin A is necessary for maintaining normal vision, immune function, as well as growth and development. As vitamin A is naturally abundant in animal tissue, cats have not evolved to synthesize vitamin A in the same way as herbivores and omnivores.

Plants produce β-carotene, a precursor for the synthesis of vitamin A by the body. Unlike omnivores and herbivores, cats appear to lack the enzyme necessary to convert β-carotene into retinal. It is assumed that cats have not evolved to synthesize vitamin A as meat proteins are low in carotenoids and the liver of prey is rich in vitamin A, so the conversion pathway would not be considered metabolically necessary or beneficial in terms of energy efficiency.

Niacin

Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for energy metabolism. Cats possess all the necessary enzymes and pathways for the production of niacin from the amino acid tryptophan.

Tryptophan can be metabolized to produce acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl CoA) and carbon dioxide or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD; the active form of niacin). In cats, the enzyme responsible for catalyzing the conversion of tryptophan to acetyl CoA and carbon dioxide has a high activity, so niacin is broken down faster than it is produced.

However, cats are well supplied with niacin from the NAD and NADP found in abundant concentrations in animal tissues. On average, cats require about 2.4 times the amount of niacin than dogs.

Arachidonic acid

Cats cannot make arachidonic acid and require a dietary source of the omega-6 fatty acid, especially during the demanding life stages of growth, gestation and lactation.

Arachidonic acid is found in abundant supply in animal tissues, especially organs. It is not present in plants, however omnivores and herbivores are able to synthesize arachidonic acid from linoleic acid, another type of omega-6 fatty acid. Arachidonic acid is a necessary component of cell membranes, and plays roles in cell signaling and inflammation. Read more…

Why Cats Love Drinking from the Sink?

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Even if you buy your cat the fanciest fountains and loveliest water bowls, you’ll notice your cat flagrantly does not care. Instead, your kitty will drink out of the sink or bathtub — when you’re trying to use them, of course.

According to veterinarian Marty Becker, there could be an evolutionary reason your cat’s not overjoyed with his bowl of water, or any other expensive H2O container you might have purchased.

“[One] reason cats might be suspicious of water in a bowl is the instinct that whispers to them telling them standing water isn’t always safe,” he writes in VetStreet. “It might be contaminated, for instance. For most wild animals — and I think we can safely say that most cats are at least wild at heart — running water is a better bet.”

It also could just be a matter of taste — no pun intended. Some experts think some cats just don’t like drinking out of porcelain or plastic, and that fresh, running water tastes better to them. It’s kind of like drinking cabernet out of a plastic cup, which, no judgement — I do that all the time. Still, we can all agree it’s less than ideal.

“There’s a lot of personal preference that comes into it,” veterinarian Eliza Sundahl tells Catster. “You can notice that the cat likes it out of a glass instead of a plastic bowl. Well, I like it out of glass instead of plastic, too.”

One of the solutions here could be to buy a fountain for your cat, so that it will drink the “free-flowing” water from the device rather than the sink. Anecdotally speaking, I have tried and failed many times to do this — and my cat still drinks out of the sink.

Maybe we’ll never totally understand cats’ fascination with the sink. At least we know that they look very goofy trying to get water from a tiny faucet when they have a giant water bowl in front of them. That’s just cat logic. Read more

Major misperceptions in how supplements are tested before being launched for sale

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Many horse owners are quick to try new horse supplements to remedy any number of health issues. But just how well do people understand the equine supplement industry? Recent study results from Ireland suggest there’s room for improvement.

While several studies have focused on identifying types of supplements fed according to riding discipline, Jo-Anne Murray, PhD, PgDip, PgCert, BSc(Hons), BHSII, RNutr, FHEA, a professor at the University of Glasgow’s School of Veterinary Medicine, in Scotland, and colleagues sought to learn about the use and perceptions of dietary supplements among Irish equestrians. They defined a supplement as “any additional feed ingredient that is a nutritional or health supplement.”

The researchers distributed an online survey to collect information on user demographics, types of horse supplements fed, reasons for use, factors influencing supplement choice, where respondents sought advice, and perceptions of equine supplement testing and regulation.

The researchers collected responses from 134 equestrians identified as equine industry professionals (30%) or nonprofessionals/amateurs (70%).

Most participants (98% of professionals and 86% of nonprofessionals) reported feeding at least one supplement. Joint and calming supplements were the most common, fed by 22% and 13% of all participants, respectively. Respondents fed digestive, vitamin/mineral, and electrolyte supplements least frequently.

Further, the researchers found that:

  • 12% of participants reported giving horses more than the recommended feeding rate, anywhere from 1.5 to two times the manufacturer’s suggested amount;
  • 53% of respondents sought nutritional advice from their feed merchants while 46% sought advice from their veterinarians;
  • 90% of respondents said veterinary recommendation was the most influential factor when choosing a supplement, followed by cost (69%);
  • Many respondents believed horse supplements were regulated better than current law requires; more than 93% said they believe supplements must meet legal standards, 73% believe each supplement batch is analyzed for quality, and 92% believe supplements are tested on horses before being marketed; and
  • 89% of participants reported being dissatisfied with the availability of unbiased nutritional advice for their horses.

“This study has identified the main types of supplements used in the Irish equestrian industry along with the reasons for their use,” the researchers noted. “However, it has also highlighted major misperceptions in how supplements are tested before being launched for sale and further work on this aspect of the findings would be beneficial.”

Read More…

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Feed beef cows appropriately this spring

supplements-calves-0416f3-1734a_1PROLONGED WINTER: With limited forage growth, supplements need to be fed to meet nutritional requirements of cows nursing calves.

Prolonged winter weather has limited forage growth thus far this spring, which means many farmers are still feeding hay to cows. Pastures aren’t growing like they usually do in early spring.

Iowa State University Extension beef specialist Chris Clark reminds cow-calf producers of the importance of feeding cows appropriately this spring. Nutritional requirements are significantly greater during lactation, and it is critical to adjust rations appropriately.

“Energy and protein requirements are significantly greater during lactation. Many spring calves have already been born, but because of the weather, pastures are not yet growing very well,” Clark notes. “It’s important to realize that whether they’re in a cow-lot setting or already on pasture, cows need to be fed well enough to support early lactation.”

Feed supplement or quality hay
Typical winter diets, although balanced for gestational requirements, may not offer enough energy and protein to meet the requirements of early lactation. You may need to supplement with some type of concentrate or at least strive to use high-quality hay.

“To help cows provide a good supply of milk for the calves and yet maintain the cows’ body condition, we need to feed them well, as we are waiting for the grass to grow,” Clark says. “Cows really need some good hay to eat, and in many cases, additional supplementation to keep them on a good plane of nutrition. The challenge is that not everyone has a good handle on the quality of their hay. Plus, at this point in the spring season, hay inventories may be running pretty low.”

Use distillers grain to stretch hay
Corn coproducts are low-starch feeds that are very compatible with forage-based diets, and Clark says distillers grain can work well to supplement and stretch hay supplies. Other feeds such as soybean hulls, corn and corn silage also can be used for supplementation. Whatever feed is used, supplements must be fed appropriately to optimize rumen function, digestibility and animal health. Read more…

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