Tag Archives: cattle


I always cut (castrate) my calves at birth, but as I get older, that gets harder to do. I am thinking about waiting and castrating them closer to weaning and banding them. If I do, what is the best bander? I am also confused about vaccinations, especially tetanus in this case. What do you recommend?


In the spring, we had a reader interested in the best bander for early castration. Now you are interested in delaying castration. It just shows there is no one approach that fits every operation.

The best bander is one of those Ford or Chevy pickup questions… and many might want to add Ram, GMC and Toyota to the argument. The best bander is the one that works best for you. More important is your question regarding vaccinations.

I really like the initial series of IBR (infectious bovine rhinotracheitis), BVD (bovine viral diarrhea), PI3 (parainfluenza-3) and BRSV (bovine respiratory syncytial virus), and clostridials to be given between 3 and 4 months of age. Boosters should be given a few weeks later. If you are going to band bull calves, be sure to use the clostridial vaccine that contains tetanus (Clostridium tetani). Never assume a “seven-or-eight-way vaccine” contains tetanus. I don’t think tetanus antitoxin is needed when the right clostridial vaccine is used prior to or at the time of banding.

I always advise that you consult with your herd veterinarian who can help custom-design the best program for your operation and make sure any bulls banded are well-protected from tetanus.

WASHINGTON – National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Kevin Kester Wednesday issued the following statement in response to the introduction of the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act in the U.S. House of Representatives:

“The House version of the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act is another important step toward fixing the current Hours of Service rules for livestock haulers. The status quo presents major challenges for the beef industry and can often jeopardize the health and well-being of livestock. We are grateful that Representative Yoho and 45 bipartisan cosponsors stepped up to support the legislation.”


The House version of the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act is the companion legislation to the Senate version of the bill, which was introduced in the Senate by Senator Bill Sasse (R-NE).

For a breakdown of recent Congressional actions on ELDs/Hours of Service, please view our recent blog post.

It may be time to cut cattle stocking rates by as much as 10% in some parts of the Northern Plains.

That news comes as drought conditions that began last year there continue, and many producers are warned to expect reductions in forage production on pasture and rangeland going forward.

“Last year, some producers experienced as much as a 75 percent reduction in forage production on pasture, range and hayland due to the drought,” said Kevin Sedivec, North Dakota State University Extension rangeland management specialist.

In many areas, pasture and rangeland received excess grazing pressure. These pastures may need extra time to recover before producers initiate grazing.

Rick Schmidt, an Extension agent in Oliver County, reported a delay in grass development this spring, compared with 2017. He said it was the result of overgrazing, cool weather and lack of moisture.

“Last year, western wheatgrass had reached the 3 1/2-leaf stage, or grazing readiness, on May 9,” he said. “However, this spring, it had only 1 1/2 leaves on May 14.”

Grazing before grasses are at the appropriate stage of maturity can cause up to a 60% reduction in forage production. This, in turn, leads to a reduction in recommended stocking rates and/or animal performance.

Grazing readiness for most domesticated pasture in the area (smooth brome grass and crested wheatgrass, for example) is the three-leaf stage. For native range grasses it’s at the 3 1/2-leaf stage.

Nearly 90% of North Dakota is experiencing some level of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“If these conditions continue through May, producers will need to reduce their stocking rates by 10 percent or more,” advised Miranda Meehan, Extension livestock environmental stewardship specialist. “In the event these conditions extend into June, a 20 percent or greater reduction will be needed, depending on severity of drought. Precipitation during these months is critical, as it dictates 80 percent of grass growth in North Dakota.”

Making early adjustments to stocking rates will prevent overgrazing and reduce the length of time grass takes to recover, as well as improve the long-term sustainability of livestock operations, the specialists stressed. Overgrazing can have long-term impacts on the entire rangeland plant community, leading to a loss of forage production, changes in plant species composition, soil erosion, weed growth and a reduction in the soil’s ability to hold water.

Producers should have a plan in place to reduce stocking rates if overgrazing occurred in 2017 and drought persists in 2018, the specialists added. The quickest solution is culling, however, those decisions will be more difficult for producers who already cut herds last year, when drought conditions began.

North Dakota producers are far from alone in their concerns over forage conditions and a lack of moisture. The U.S. Drought Monitor map, for the week ending May 17, 2018, reported almost half the country as being anywhere from “abnormally dry” to in “exceptional drought.” Those states with some areas considered in exceptional drought (D4) included Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and California.


MT. VERNON, Mo. — May is a good time to score your cow herd for hair shedding according to Eldon Cole, livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“Hair shedding is around 0.35 percent heritable. That means you can select cattle that shed off more quickly than others,” said Cole.

Early shedders wean off heavier calves, suffer less heat stress, tend to breed back more readily and are more attractive to look at than animals that retain their winter coat all summer.

Much attention has focused on slicker hair coats as a result of fescue toxicosis.

“One practice that may help your cattle’s performance on ‘hot’ fescue is to observe your herd for quick shedding animals,” said Cole.

A scorecard on each animal can be made on a 1 to 5 basis. Each April or May simply observe each of your breeding females for completeness of hair shedding. A 1 is an animal that is completely shed off; their coat is sleek and shiny with even hair on the lower part of the body gone.

A score of 2 is given to animals with about 75 percent of their hair shed off. Most of the hair on the upper part of their body will be gone. The 3’s have shed about 50 percent of their hair and a 4 will only have shed 25 percent of their winter coat. Finally, a 5 score is one that retains their winter coat even in the heat of mid-summer.

“You will be surprised at the variation you find within your herd for shedding. As you work towards a more productive cow herd use shedding along with growth, performance, carcass EPD’s, (expected progeny differences),” said Cole. “We do not have a hair shedding EPD yet but someday we might.”

Cole says it is important to note that besides genetic differences, age, nutrition and season of calving can all affect shedding status.

“Some slow shedders may still calve on a regular basis and wean above average weight calves and vice versa. If that’s the case, I will hold on to them as long as they perform well,” said Cole.

For more information, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Lawrence County, (417) 466-3102; Andy McCorkill in Dallas County at (417) 345-7551; Dr. Randy Wiedmeier, in Ozark County at (417) 679-3525; or Dr. Patrick Davis in Cedar County at (417) 276-3313.

University of Missouri Extension programs focus on the high-priority needs of Missourians to improve lives, communities and economies by providing relevant, responsive and reliable educational solutions. MU Extension programs are open to all. More information on this topic is available online at http://extension.missouri.edu.