Congratulations! You made it through one of the worst droughts on record. Now that the rains have come and the grass is green again, your worries are over, right? Wrong! Now your livestock are picking up all of the parasites that lay dormant all of those months of drought. Are you ready?
Now is the time to start planning your winter-feeding program. Adequate nutrition is vital for both the calf and cow in terms of health and productivity. Thin cows are harder to breed back; produce less milk and wean lighter calves. However, on the flip side, it is important to supplement only what is necessary without wasting feed or money in order to remain profitable.
In honor of Farm Safety Month, I want to touch on a topic that should be near and dear to us all--food safety. As livestock producers, we need to remember that in the end we are producing human food. In doing so, it is our responsibility to carefully adhere to all guidelines regarding drugs and pesticides used in our animals. Not doing so could put the safety of the food we are producing in jeopardy. Additionally, the negative publicity generated could negatively affect the market for everyone for months or even years.
There is a lot of confusion regarding copper and sheep. Many have been told for years to steer clear of copper in sheep feeds and rations no matter what. However, the truth is a little less black and white than that.
As we near the end of the winter feeding period, sometimes we have to make tough choices regarding use of moldy hay. Horses and other non-ruminants are most susceptible to mold toxicity and should not be fed moldy hay except under the most dire situations.