Tag Archives: cattle

A heat stress forecast is as important to a cattle producer, as the rain forecast is to a crop producer. Checking a heat index, and adapting handling to the forecast, will help mitigate risk when working cattle during summer months.

Rob Eirich, Nebraska Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) coordinator, and Mariah Woolsoncroft, Nebraska Extension beef educator say it’s the connection between heat and humidity that’s especially important in knowing when to reduce stress on cattle this time of the year. They encourage the use of both a heat index, and an assessment of individual animals’ body temperatures using a panting score, to guide management.

Panting scores fall on a scale of 0 to 4, with 0 equaling normal respiration and 4 being severe open-mouthed panting, a protruding tongue, excessive salivation. Usually the neck is extended forward at a 4. (https://extension.unl.edu/…)

With the Cattle Temperature Humidity Index, cattle can be in the danger area with temperatures as low as 82 degrees F, and a relative humidity of 75%. They are considered in an emergency situation with temperatures of 86 degrees F and relative humidity of 85%. (https://extension.unl.edu/…)

There are several tips to minimize the impact of heat on cattle:

*Always handle cattle early in the mornings, before 8 a.m. Don’t move or handle cattle after 10 a.m. during the summer months.

*Don’t handle cattle in the evening, even though environmental temperatures are down. This is because the animal’s core temperature peaks two hours after the environmental temperature peaks, and takes 4 to 6 hours to go back to normal.

*Work cattle in smaller groups so animals are not standing in a holding area for more than 30 minutes.

*Facilites should be shaded and good air-flow provided.
*A sprinkler system may be used to help cool animals.
*Work cattle slowly, using low stress handling techniques.
*Try to have cattle move shorter distances during the heat. This may mean moving animals closer to loading facilities during the feeding period.
*Be aware that sick or stressed animals are at more danger for heat stress and need additional shade and cooling.


We need to rework our corral and get a new chute. Do you have any suggestions? Who makes the best chutes?


Asking who makes the best cattle chute is sort of like asking who makes the best pickup truck. Want to start a fight? Start talking about religion, politics or pickups.

A lot of this is personal preference. I prefer scissor-type headcatches, but others prefer pivoting, self-catching types. I really like chutes that squeeze straight inward rather than in a V shape. I think cattle just seem to do better with a light, equal squeeze.

Chute size and weight must be matched with cattle size. Don’t buy more than you need, but be sure you get enough. There is nothing more stressful than trying to work large cattle in a chute that’s too small.

The most common design flaw I see in corrals is the lanes are too wide. While corrals that are adjustable with crowding alleys are ideal, they are expensive. If this is not an option, alleys 28 to 30 inches wide are enough for most cattle. If you have really large cattle, your alleys may need to be a little wider, but you may have a problem with calves turning around in them. Making alleys V-shaped can help with this, but when a cow or bull goes down, it can be difficult to get them up.

Alleys that gently curve take advantage of the natural tendency of cattle to circle, and solid walls also help keep cattle moving forward. A “crowding tub” with a crowding or sweep gate at least 12 feet long makes getting cattle into the chute much less stressful on man and beast.

The American Angus Association® and Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) welcome Dr. Duc Lu as a newly named research geneticist for the cattle industry’s leading genetic evaluation center.

 In his position, Dr. Lu will analyze AGI’s delivery of weekly genomic evaluation, continue to expand the knowledge of genetic evaluation, analyze high-density genomic data, and research new procedures, processes and techniques to help improve genetic and genomic evaluation.

“Dr. Lu has a rich history in genomic and genetic research and analysis, which makes him a perfect fit for this position,” said Dr. Stephen Miller, AGI director of genetic research. “He certainly brings with him a wealth of understanding and knowledge of genetics and how we can better analyze and test to further the Angus breed in the future.”

Dr. Lu has an extensive experience with analyzing genomic data. He completed his Ph.D. from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 2012. There, he analyzed some of the first high-density genotype data related to feed efficiency in beef cattle. His postdoctoral fellowship with the Livestock Gentec Centre at the University of Alberta provided the key analysis capabilities to lead a pan-Canadian Cattle Genome Project. From 2014-2016, Dr. Lu was a scientist with AgResearch Ltd. in New Zealand where he helped develop new methods for imputation using sequence data and investigated genomic regions related to beef quality. Since October of 2016, Dr. Lu has been with North Carolina State University’s department of animal science. He investigated potential interaction between host genome and its gut metagenomes in swine in relation to animal performance including growth and efficiency.

The AGI team is excited to further enhance the genetic tools available to cattle producers, while also diving deeper into the research topics identified as critically important by Angus breeders in the 2016 Long Range Strategic Plan. By adding Dr. Lu, AGI will be able to help further the science and technology used to advance the beef industry.

“Dr. Lu will be a tremendous asset to our team,” said Dr. Dan Moser, AGI president. “With his skill set and advanced research history, he will be helping AGI continue to add more value to the beef industry and the Angus breed. We are thrilled to have him join our team.”

Established in 2007, AGI is a subsidiary of the American Angus Association® to provide services to the beef industry that assist in the genetic evaluation of economically important traits. AGI develops and promotes technology for use of the beef industry, including DNA technology, and has developed genomic-enhanced expected progeny differences (GE-EPDs) for the Angus breed on a weekly basis. AGI provides important genomic tools, not just for the Angus breed, but for the cattle industry as a whole.

COVINGTON, Ga.,– Recently celebrating its 25th year as a leading Georgia agribusiness enterprise, Kelly Products today announced that the company has started a blockchain system for tracking proteins in the Southeastern United States. The new blockchain system will address current issues producers face with building a traceable brand for beef and other proteins.

Kelly Registration Systems, the software division of Kelly Products, has previously developed inventory tracking and administrative management solutions for the agribusiness and manufacturing industries and is well positioned to apply these tools to the blockchain.

“We’ve had success creating solutions specifically geared towards the agribusiness market,” said Stuart Edmondson, chief technology officer, Kelly Registration Systems. “Utilizing blockchain technology for our new tracking system gives producers the opportunity to streamline their protein tracking and make it extremely accessible and transparent.”

Participating producers will track their cattle and livestock through RFID and this data will be collected at predefined intervals. Since this solution is built on blockchain technology, this data will be easily accessible to the producers’ partners, retailers and even consumers.

Kelly Products is currently testing the new blockchain system through Farmview Market, which it started in 2015, before making it available to producers across the Southeast. As a farmers market, specialty grocery and butcher that works with numerous local and regional protein suppliers, Farmview Market is an ideal testing ground for tracking animals through the supply chain and demonstrating the benefit of providing additional transparency directly to consumers.

“We plan to start the blockchain with our own animals and then expand it to other members of the meat processing and supply chain across the state of Georgia and the Southeast. We believe transparency and food safety are top priorities, not only for our consumers at Farmview Market but for our state’s entire food system,” said Keith Kelly, president and chief executive officer of Kelly Products.

Data collected will include information regarding each animal’s breed, sire, sex, vaccinations, weights, average daily gains, antibiotic or growth hormone use, feed and forages, farm location, changes in ownership, date slaughtered, date processed, carcass grading and other factors.

“After 25 years in the agribusiness industry, we identified a major need for state food producers to better track and report on protein sources,” said Kelly, who frequently advocates for strengthening the beef brand in Kelly Products’ home state of Georgia. “Our new blockchain solution has the potential to completely change how protein is sourced, increase transparency for the end consumer and strengthen the producer’s protein brand.”

Corn struggling in drought-stressed growing areas this season, may be a good option for cattle feed–providing at least some salvage value for affected acres. There are, however, a few cautionary notes.

Kansas State University beef systems specialist, Jaymelynn Farney, says silage is likely the best choice, but notes there are other considerations.

“Drought-stressed corn silage or baleage is often higher in protein than conventional corn silage, even though energy values are generally lower,” she notes. “Additionally, drought-stressed corn silage has less lignin than conventional silages.”

She says if property ensiled, nitrate concentration on drought-stressed corn will be reduced 30% to 60% after the ensiling process. Optimal moisture content for proper ensiling depends on storage method. Silage stored in a bunker, for example, should be harvested at 65% to 70% moisture; baleage can be 45% to 60% moisture.

“Putting up drought-stressed corn for hay,” she adds, “is the least recommended because even when we think it is very dry, it’s large stem generally isn’t. If putting up for hay, condition the stem to aid in drying.”

Farney points to a 2012 North Dakota State University study where corn was cut for hay and had to cure for 30 days to reach 16.2% moisture. Also nitrates are not reduced in hay, like they are during the ensiling process.

Another option to use drought-stressed corn would be in-field grazing. This would minimize nutrient removal from the field. Be aware there is potential for nitrate toxicity and acidosis. Nitrate toxicity potential is reduced if cattle don’t eat the stem and lower 8 inches. Acidosis can be a concern, depending on how much mature grain is in the field.

“To minimize issues with acidosis, strip graze and allow the cows only a couple of days in each strip,” she recommends. “Calf gains while grazing standing corn have been reported between 1.6 and 3.3 pounds per day.”

The energy value of drought-damaged silage can range from 75% to 95% that of regular silages. Farney says it’s important to test silage for nutrient content to help balance the ration. Limit feeding is best for this, as cows will voluntarily consume 2.5% of body weight on a dry matter basis of corn silage.

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Montana officials say the payments to ranchers for livestock killed by certain wild predators exceeded budget but were not as high as projected.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the Livestock Loss Board paid out $8,000 in claims over its $200,000 budget, dipping into cash reserves to cover last year’s bills.

Board executive director George Edwards says the board feared worse after the state Legislature added mountain lions to the list but did not increase the budget last year.

The board has reimbursed livestock owners for 40 animals killed by big cats since October. Edwards says mountain lions more often kill sheep and goats, which are less expensive than cattle.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services had estimated for mountain lion kills to cost more than $61,000 in 2016.


Early spring, I had several calves born during a week of torrential rains. They developed a skin rash that resembled eczema or psoriasis. One calf had it all over his body; some even had it inside their ears and between their toes (hoofs). It was very red and almost looked like they’d been scalded. My veterinarian told me to deworm them, and I also gave them a shot of Nuflor. They all healed and look like normal calves now. Any idea what this may have been?


This is a very common problem under these conditions. Lice and mange are more common in cooler seasons, while flies and other biting insects become more prevalent as the weather heats up. Any of these pests can cause increased scratching, which often leads to skin irritation and infection.

Wet weather combined with longer hair just makes everything worse. In addition, cattle concentrated into smaller areas for feeding or protection from cold weather means increased direct contact between infected and noninfected animals. So, you may have had a “perfect storm” for this to occur.

Many dewormers do help control external parasites, which could have been what initiated the problem. Nuflor probably helped control any secondary infection, and improved weather and shorter hair helped the calves continue to improve. Also, the calves’ immune systems became more active as they aged, which is always a good thing. Here’s hoping that next season you won’t see a repeat with the rash; but, if you do, you know what to do.

Four years of sales data, across 7,525 lots of cattle, reveals something interesting when it comes to heifer calves. Producers are leaving a lot of money on the table. That’s based on Western Video Market data from 2014 through 2017.

Average lot size in the four-year review was 134-head, with all animals in the study out of the western states—primarily California, Oregon and Nevada. Most (80%) were ranch raised, sold-from-the-farm calves. Calves ranged from 4-weights up to 9-weights. Sales the study focused on took place throughout the year, with the majority occurring in the summer months.

On average, just 19% (1,421) of the total sale lots (7,525) were implanted. Statistically, across the four years, there was no difference in sale price between implanted and non-implanted cattle even though implanted cattle received a slightly higher payout ($184.12/cwt versus $183.03/cwt). The difference was noteworthy for implanted heifers, however, which sold for $3.04/cwt more through those years, compared to non-implanted heifers.

Zoetis’ Tom Short, associate director of outcomes research with the company, has been studying this data. He told DTN that while there is a perception that non-hormone treated calves always sell for more, the data isn’t backing that up.

“In fact it tells us just the opposite,” he noted. “In the case of implanted heifers I think what we are seeing here is that buyers know a heifer with an implant will have better growth potential. Also he presumes that those heifers are less likely to have been around a bull, so there is less of a possibility of them being pregnant. From a buyer’s perspective this is a positive on more than one count. It is interesting.”

Asked if programs like the USDA’s Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC) could make up through premiums, for the lack of extra pounds an implant can yield, Short said this does not appear to be the case. Looking at NHTC cattle sold in summer 2017, 1,674 out of 2,018 total lots did not receive an implant. Only about 300 of those un-implanted lots, however, sold under a NHTC program. This means for 1,374 lots, there was neither the possibility of a premium, nor were there additional pounds to sell as a result of use of an implant. Average gain added through the use of a calf implant is reported at 19 pounds.

“Take a 6-weight calf and the NHTC premium was $2.25 per cwt, or about $13.50 per head” Short noted of 2017. “Now look at that calf with a sale price [market average] of $1.45 per cwt, or about $870. If we use the 19-pound advantage research shows us an implant is worth now ($27.55) and add that to the value of the calf, you get $897.55 for that same animal. That is about $28 more. In our current market that more than offsets qualifying for the NHTC.”

Through the entire four-year’s of data, across 7,525 lots, a total of 1,421 lots were implanted; 6,104 were not.

Short added he believes this data would be typical across the country. Asked if environment could reduce gains on implants, he said in drought situations it is possible performance might be compromised, although he added “many in the scientific community would say there is still some benefit. The implant can help you more effectively utilize the resources you have. It can make an operation more sustainable.”

The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension service notes in “Implants and Their Use in Beef Cattle Production” the use of implants is lowest in small cow-calf operations, with only 9% of those producers it surveyed using an implant in steers. Operators with more than 100 head used implants at a rate of about 37%. Implant use goes up dramatically for the stocker and feedlot phases. Heifers intended as replacements, the report notes, should be separated from stocker heifers, so implants can be used on the stockers without concerns over any impact on conception rates.

The report concludes: “Implants are one of the most cost effective technologies available to cattle producers.” It adds a nursing calf implanted at three months of age, and 150 days before weaning, can be expected to have an increase of value $15 to $30 per head.

For details on correct implant procedure, and to read the full report from Oklahoma Extension, go to this link: http://factsheets.okstate.edu/…