Benefits of Pre-Weaning Vaccinations in Beef Calves


“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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Considerations during a prolonged housing period


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.

Lacpatrick milk price N and P, Concentrates fodder nitrates gdt lakeland, dairy

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.


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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Health is in the eye of the #cow you are beholding

cow photo

Q. Is it true that light colored cows have more eye problems than darker colored cows?

A. Yes, this can be true. Breeds with light pigment around their eyes do have more trouble with diseases such as cancer eye and sunburn. The same can be said for light pigment in the udder region. However, within breeds there are also individuals that have dark pigment around the eyes and udders, which certainly helps to protect these areas and lessens the chance for disease. When possible, it is good to select cattle that have dark pigment around their eyes and udders. In doing so, treatment costs will be minimized. read more…

New cow disease: Mycoplasma bovis


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


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

“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


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?


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…