American agriculture is a world leader because of the innovation and hard work of the American Farmer and Rancher. Adopting new technologies has been at the center of this success. Often the innovation is the result of a need to improve animal performance, health and well being or improved utilization of a limited resource. If the estimates of 9 billion people in the world by 2050 are correct, the primary limiting resources will be land and water. Maintaining the choice to use the tools and technology available is being debated and we are at risk of not having many of these tools. Changes occurring in our industry can be seen as an obstacle or opportunity to better communicate why and how we manage livestock. The Food Safety Modernization Act and the move to veterinary oversight using the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) for medicated feeds are great opportunities to build trust and accountability with the food consumer.
Vaccines are an important part of the annual ‘to do’ list of any livestock operation. However, with the ever increasing list of cattle vaccines available, the cost to vaccinate can range from $3/hd up to $9/hd, not including labor. When you consider how much of an investment vaccines are, can you take the chance that they won’t be effective?
June is a busy month with many activities that will allow us to provide the general public a little more access to our cattle operations. June is Dairy Month with many activities such as Dairy Breakfast and Farm and City Days and for beef operations there are farm tours and breed association events. These are wonderful activities to highlight the care and dedication that is given to our animals. The interest of the general population in THEIR food supply is at an all-time high. Unfortunately, the availability of misleading information and outright deceptive information about production agriculture and livestock production is also very abundant. In addition, I take issue with advertising by some in the feed and food industry which contributes to the consumer’s confusion by implying that one a product is more wholesome or safer than another that is produced by a different production processes. I challenge you to take the opportunity to open the door a little wider to be even more transparent on your management practices. We need this to continue to gain the trust and support of the general population. If we fail to explain the technology we use, we run the risk of losing access to that technology.
As we approach the hot summer months, more and more producers are dealing with the nuisance of pinkeye. Pinkeye is a highly infectious bacterial disease. Although pinkeye is nonfatal, it costs cattle producers over $150 million per year. These expenses result from decreased weight gain, reduced milk production and treatment costs. Additionally, infected animals are worth less at sale time. Pinkeye is second only to scours/diarrhea in terms of diseases affecting calves.
Have you ever wondered who gets paid to think up names for cars, or any new product? You know, great names like Charger, Road Runner, Chevelle, Mustang, Cougar, and Corvette. Those names had some meaning behind them, and hopefully it translated quickly, when you heard someone mention them.
Weather has an enormous impact on our industry; everything from precipitation concerns to temperature extremes affecting our crops and livestock. This past winter was one for the record books, now it is time to prepare for warmer temperatures and reduce the impact of heat stress on your dairy and feedlot cattle. We now have a better understanding of the impact that brief periods of low rumen pH can have on animal performance. Periods of low rumen pH can result in reduced rumen function, death of rumen bacteria and systemic endotoxemia.
Regardless of your address, we can all agree that it’s been a long winter. Even though we’re officially in spring, it doesn’t look or feel like it in southern Minnesota. The long range forecasts are calling for cooler than average temperatures in most areas with average precipitation. The combination of cool weather and rain is perfect for cool season pastures to take off. While the green pastures are a welcome sight, they can potentially cause grass tetany.
I look forward to March most every year, even if the weather and my favorite basketball teams are so unpredictable. March Basketball is so unpredictable that a group is offering a BILLION dollar challenge for a perfect bracket. Good luck! The odds are against you. For dairy and beef producers some things in March are fairly certain; Fighting a few weeks of MUD and several days when Mother Nature will be confused about starting spring or holding on to winter. Weather changes impact feed intake and increase health risks for cattle. The odds of your cattle having consistent eating patterns or feed delivery in March are about as good as me have a winning basketball bracket with my UK Wildcats going all the way. We can’t control Mother Nature, however there are several CRYSTALYX® Self Fed Supplements that can help your livestock maintain performance through March Madness.
It’s no secret that Beef cow nutrient requirements start increasing prior to calving and continue up until the cow herd is bred. In spring calving herds many producers have matched these increasing nutrient needs with their calving season to take advantage of these actively growing pastures to help limit the amount of supplemental inputs needed. There has been a wide variety of conditions across the US this past winter with extremely dry conditions in the west and very cold temperatures in many other parts of the country. This is a strong reason for concern going into calving and supports the need to evaluate your nutrition program in order to ensure calf health and performance and timely rebreeding. Reports from the Extension Service in SW Missouri this winter have indicated reduced conception rates and even death losses in cows from the colder than normal weather conditions. Lingering cold temperatures could easily result in reduced cow body condition if energy adjustments were not made jeopardizing both calving and rebreeding. Shortcuts in the area of nutrition now can seriously affect your profitability given the current calf prices.