Every cattle producer wants to get all they can from their land and cattle. Some times that means running a temporary fence to keep cattle in certain areas they just don’t care to go. What if there was a way to lure cattle to the other end without having to get out the T-posts and post driver? Why not use the supplement you already have to move your cattle around the pasture?
Thankfully, the drought conditions that most of the US was struggling with is turning itself back around, the western US being the exception of course. Forage is starting to come back and quality is improving, water sources are nearly back to normal. However, one thing that I know I’ve never thought about is what are the lingering effects of drought?
Salt has had an elevated place throughout history. The phrase ‘worth his salt’ can be traced to ancient Rome where soldiers were sometimes paid in salt. However precious salt is, it’s not enough when it comes to your cattle.
In the past few years there has been a shift in the mindset of the consumer when it comes to food production. Science, it seems, is no longer an acceptable answer to the how and why of management practices. A number of retailers have taken advantage of this and have further influenced public opinion with advertising that is emotionally charged and less than 100% honest.
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.
In January, I talked about the importance of zinc and vaccine effectiveness (read it here). Today, I’d like to continue the immune function discussion, but focusing on copper.
Copper has several important functions in the body ranging from metabolism, to enzyme function, to reproductive performance. Most notably, copper is a key component to proper antioxidant enzyme function (passive immunity, happens in the background) as well as antibody production and phagocyte activity (both are active immunity, happens in response to a pathogen). Cattle with a low to deficient copper status respond poorly to vaccines and disease challenges. This is because copper deficient cattle have decreased immune system protector cells, decreased antibody response to pathogens, and increased susceptibility to infection, including parasites.
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?
It continues to be good times cattle business. A colleague heard from a neighbor in eastern Wyoming that they received $1.25/lb more for their calves this year compared to last year. If you assume a 600 lb calf, that’s an additional $750 per calf! With higher than average profits and prices for replacement heifers, it only makes sense to reinvest in your cows.