New cow disease: Mycoplasma bovis

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Mycoplasma bovis is on many farmers’ minds and has the potential to hit dairy and beef sectors in the pocket, but what actually is this disease?

What we know

  • This is the first time the disease has been found in New Zealand.
  • The disease causes mastitis, pneumonia, abortions and lameness, and can result in the deaths of cows and calves.
  • The disease can be hard to detect and treat because it has special characteristics including: The lack of a cell wall so that certain widely-used antibiotics are not effective; an ability to hide away from the immune system so that infections are difficult for cows to fight; the ability to create conditions that allow evasion from antibiotic treatment (eg within large abscesses).
  • Not all infected cows get sick or show signs of the disease, making it hard to detect. Some shed the disease without becoming ill, allowing for transmission between farms if these cows are moved.
  • It is mainly spread through ‘nose to nose’ contact between cattle through mucus and bodily fluids, and by direct contact with between infected animals and equipment which has been used on infected animals.
  • Mycoplasma bovis does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk. There is no concern about consuming milk and milk products.
  • MPI said all products from infected cows are fine for human consumption. This includes dairy and dairy products once pasteurised and all meat products.
  • While some of the conditions can be treated, affected cattle will always be carriers of the disease.
  • In Australia, the disease is throughout most dairying regions and had devastating impacts on some individual farms, leading to cows and calves being killed.
  • Since the disease arrived in Australia farmers have been using a PCR test, which detects evidence of infection in bulk milk.

Read more…

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Water vital for #livestock during drought

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A 10 percent loss of body water is fatal to most domestic livestock species.

Livestock producers need to make sure they have enough water for their animals because much of North Dakota is experiencing drought, according to North Dakota State University Extension Service livestock environmental stewardship specialist Miranda Meehan.

“Providing adequate water to livestock is critical for animal health and production; a 10 percent loss of body water is fatal to most species of domestic livestock,” she says. “Keep in mind that water requirements may double during hot weather.”

Carl Dahlen, NDSU Extension beef cattle specialist, says the amount of water livestock need depends on the conditions and type of animal.

“Providing adequate water to livestock is critical for animal health and production; a 10 percent loss of body water is fatal to most species of domestic livestock. Keep in mind that water requirements may double during hot weather.” Miranda Meehan, NDSU Extension service livestock environmental stewardship specialist

The general estimates of daily water intake for beef cattle when the temperature is 90 F are:

Cows – 18 gallons for nursing mothers; 15.3 gallons for bred dry cows and heifers

Bulls – 20 gallons

Growing cattle – 9.5 gallons for a 400-pound animal; 12.7 gallons for a 600-pound animal; 15 gallons for an 800-pound animal

Finishing cattle – 14.3 gallons for a 600-pound animal; 17.4 gallons for an 800-pound animal; 20.6 gallons for a 1,000-pound animal; 24 gallons for a 1,200-pound animal

Estimates of daily water intake for dairy cattle at 80 F are:

Dry cows (for maintenance and pregnancy) – 16.2 gallons for a 1,400-pound animal; 17.3 gallons for a 1,700-pound animal

Lactating 1,500-pound cows (for maintenance and milk production) – 28.9 gallons for 60 pounds of milk production; 32.2 gallons for 80 pounds of milk production; 35.6 gallons for 100 pounds of milk production

Heifers (for maintenance and pregnancy) – 6.1 gallons for a 400-pound animal; 11 gallons for an 800-pound animal; 14.5 gallons for a 1,200-pound animal

For more information, see the NDSU publication “Livestock Water Requirements” at http://tinyurl.com/LivestockWaterRequirements.

“Good-quality water can have a major impact on your cattle’s intake and weight gain,” Meehan says. “Canadian studies have shown the quality of water accessible to livestock is directly tied to the amount of forage they consume. Studies report improved gains by as much as 0.24 pound per day in yearlings and 0.33 pound per day in calves.”

In addition, providing good-quality water can improve herd health. Livestock whose primary water sources are ponds and dugouts have a greater risk of contracting illnesses such as giardia, leptospirosis and cyanobacterial poisoning, compared with livestock drinking from a trough.

Dugouts should be fenced to restrict livestock’s direct access to the water. The water then can be piped to a trough. This will increase the water’s palatability and reduce nutrients in the water. Increased nutrients have a direct impact on the growth of certain species of blue-green algae and elevated levels of sulfates, which have the potential to be toxic.

In many instances, the water in dugouts and dams has been reduced greatly because of the drought, increasing the risk for animal health issues related to water quality. Meehan recommends producers using dugouts and dams as their primary water source look into hauling water or installing an alternative water source.

Hauling water is a short-term fix, but it can help get producers through this year’s drought. Water developments are one of the investments that give producers the most bang for the buck, the specialists say.

Common developments include troughs, pumps, wells and pipelines. Many cost-share opportunities are available to producers installing water developments through the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, soil conservation districts or conservation groups. In addition, the North Dakota State Water Commission has opened the Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply Program, which will cover up to $3,500 of the eligible costs for water development projects.

“When thinking about water developments, also consider the importance of maintaining an ample supply of good-quality water for cattle during the heat of the summer,” Dahlen advises. “Heat stress can have major impacts on cattle productivity and also can be life-threatening. Evaluate your water supply lines and ensure you have sufficient water pressure and flow capacity to keep troughs full during times of peak water consumption.” Read more…

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Invest in patience and you will get best cow for less

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One of the most common questions I get from dairy farmers is, “How can I have high quality dairy cattle without paying the high prices for pedigree cows?”

This question arises from the desire of farmers to have high milk producing cattle but they are frustrated by the high purchase prices for such cattle.

The question has been very frequent in the last one month. I hope by making a full article response to the question, even those who have not yet asked the question will benefit.

I will use the Friesian cow breed as my reference in this article because it is the most common dairy cow breed in Kenya.

The Friesian, also called Holstein, is the highest milk producing dairy cattle breed. Often people confuse Friesian and Holstein as two different breeds. They are one and the same.

The term Friesian is mainly used in the United Kingdom while Holstein is used in the United States of America. The cattle originated from North Holland and Friesland Provinces of The Netherlands and spread widely globally due to their superior milk production. read more…

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Do cows pollute as much as cars – really?

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Cows emit a massive amount of methane through belching, with a lesser amount through flatulence. Statistics vary regarding how much methane the average dairy cow expels. Some experts say 100 liters to 200 liters a day (or about 26 gallons to about 53 gallons), while others say it’s up to 500 liters (about 132 gallons) a day. In any case, that’s a lot of methane, an amount comparable to the pollution produced by a car in a day.

To understand why cows produce methane, it’s important to know a bit more about how they work. Cows, goats, sheep and several other animals belong to a class of animals called ruminants. Ruminants have four stomachs and digest their food in their stomachs instead of in their intestines, as humans do. Ruminants eat food, regurgitate it as cud and eat it again. The stomachs are filled with bacteria that aid in digestion, but also produce methane. Read more…

Weaning management

If the spring-born calves aren’t weaned yet, then the time isn’t far away now that fall is here. This month we’ll look at recent research from Philipe Moriel and others at North Carolina State University on the role of maternal nutrition in calf performance and health.

Veterinarians and ranchers know healthy weaned calves begin with a well-vaccinated cowherd long before calving, because high-quality colostrum minimizes disease exposure for nursing calves. All true, yes, but even the best established herd immunity can fall short if nutrition falls short in the days before calving.

Work from the 1970s told us calves born to nutrient-restricted cows were more likely to be treated for bovine respiratory disease with greater death loss than calves from cows with adequate nutrition. More recent Nebraska field trials suggest protein supplementation to pregnant cows during the last trimester of gestation improves carcass quality grade and weights in steer progeny while decreasing puberty age and improving pregnancy rates in heifer calves compared to those from unsupplemented dams. These studies demonstrated the potential impact of extended nutrient restriction in late gestation. read more…

Effect of Probiotics/Prebiotics on Cattle Health and Productivity

Probiotics/prebiotics have the ability to modulate the balance and activities of the gastrointestinal (GI) microbiota, and are, thus, considered beneficial to the host animal and have been used as functional foods. Numerous factors, such as dietary and management constraints, have been shown to markedly affect the structure and activities of gut microbial communities in livestock animals. Previous studies reported the potential of probiotics and prebiotics in animal nutrition; however, their efficacies often vary and are inconsistent, possibly, in part, because the dynamics of the GI community have not been taken into consideration. Under stressed conditions, direct-fed microbials may be used to reduce the risk or severity of scours caused by disruption of the normal intestinal environment. The observable benefits of prebiotics may also be minimal in generally healthy calves, in which the microbial community is relatively stable. However, probiotic yeast strains have been administered with the aim of improving rumen fermentation efficiency by modulating microbial fermentation pathways. This review mainly focused on the benefits of probiotics/prebiotics on the GI microbial ecosystem in ruminants, which is deeply involved in nutrition and health for the animal. Read more…

Night milk: milk taken from cows at night might be the sleep aid you need

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As anyone who has suffered from insomnia knows well, drinking a glass of warm milk doesn’t always help. But it might, a new study reports, if the milk is taken from a cow at night.

According to an animal study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, night milk – literally milk collected from a cow at night – contains high amounts of tryptophan and melatonin, supplements proven to aid sleep and reduce anxiety. Read more…