By now, more and more producers are learning about the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) that will bring about a change in regulating feed-through antibiotics. There’s been a lot of recent popular press and blog chatter on this subject. The intent of the rule, now finalized, isn’t really that different from when it was introduced and debated at the Food and Drug Administration in 2009. The industry comment period has resulting in some changes related to documentation. The final rules have been published this year (June), and have already taken affect for some drugs and more (the main ones concerned in cattle feeds) will go into effect on January 1, 2017.
As winter approaches we need to start thinking about feeding hay. This year has been very hit-or-miss in terms of rainfall. Those who got it, got more than enough. And those who didn’t, well... The problem is that most of the available hay is going to come from those areas that received ample rainfall and faced less-than-ideal harvesting conditions. Under those circumstances, mold becomes an issue.
The CRYSTALYX® Earn to Learn™ program is back for another year and better than ever. This blog discussion is not about the performance of CRYSTALYX® on livestock, rather about today’s youth in agriculture; which is our future. The future of CRYSTALYX® is not only about cows but kids too.
July is here, and with it, some of the hottest days of the summer are just ahead of us. Self-fed intake of CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements can be higher in the summer/warmer months. During the manufacturing process, CRYSTALYX® is packaged in to barrels at a temperature of approximately 150 to 175 degrees. At this temperature, CRYSTALYX® is very pliable, much like Play Doh® or thick cookie dough. As it cools, it becomes hard. Hardness is a primary factor in determining the self-fed intake of CRYSTALYX®. As you would expect, if CRYSTALYX® warms back up towards that 150 degree temperature, it will become softer again. That is just the nature of a Low-Moisture Block.
June is Dairy Month which means Dairy Breakfast, Farm City Days and Dairy Food Specials are common in the dairy communities around the country. These events provide a great opportunity to show the consumer how we take care of our cattle and the effort it takes to produce the food and products they enjoy. Opponents of modern agriculture may say we need to return to the old way of doing things and use fear mongering of “Factory Farms” in their message. Some interesting dairy farm statistics of today’s dairy farms compared to dairy farms in 1944 show how today’s farms need fewer cows and resources while producing significantly less waste and green house gases. Source J. of Animal Science, 2009
In my travels this week I have seen rows of corn emerging from recently planted fields and even a few fields of mowed hay. All indication of a warm spring which will lead to summer time temperatures and the risk of reduce animal performance due to heat stress.
Stress is a natural part of life for both cattle and humans. Some stress is unavoidable, such as stress associated with calving or weaning. But other stresses can be lessened with careful management.
On a short term basis, stress isn’t a bad thing. Stress prepares an animal for a “fight or flight” response. Cortisol and epinephrine are released during a stress event. These hormones facilitate increased heart rate, mobilization of glucose for a quick burst of energy, decreased sensitivity to pain and the suppression of nonessential processes such as digestion.
Newly weaned, fall-born calves are full of potential; potential for amazing gains as well as health issues. Backgrounding these calves on pasture this spring can help minimize the potential for health issues, but sometimes gain can suffer. However, with proper supplementation, including an ionophore, you can maximize growth, and ultimately returns, while minimizing the risks.
Spring is just busier and more crowded!
Managing the Spring rush is associated with calving season on beef cattle operations with spring calving herds. Many dairy farms will notice a seasonal increase in calving during the spring as well. Grazing dairies will calve in the spring to match the nutrient demand with the available forage. Traditional confinement operations often see an increase in spring calving for two reasons. Many operations do not calve first calf heifers in the coldest winter months. Increased spring calving of mature cows is often a result of heat stress. Cows that fail to conceive due to the heat of July and August will often become pregnant in September. These cows will enter the dry cow pens starting in March with subsequent calving in April through June. The net result is often an overcrowded situation in the dry cow, pre-fresh and fresh pens. Overcrowding in these pens leads to increased fresh cow problems after calving, most notably ketosis and uterine infections.