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.
For most producers it has been a long, cold winter and spring has been a bit stubborn about showing itself. I was recently traveling from Minnesota to southeastern Kansas about a month ago, and grasslands had not really started greening up at that time. This is pretty late for that part of the country and because of the cold temperatures, I would say those same delayed spring conditions are the norm with most of the US and Canada. We are now into late April and cows are stretching the fences as they look at greener pastures on the other side. Total pasture production can be negatively impacted if pastures are grazed too soon in the spring as carbohydrate reserves become severely reduced. Rather than storing carbohydrates from actively growing leaves, plant roots are called upon for energy to help support plant growth.
Injury caused by dystocia causes up to 80% of perinatal calf losses and is most common in first calf heifers. Excessive calf size can result in malpresentation due to the calf not being able to properly position itself in the birth canal or total fetopelvic disproportion requiring C-section delivery.
One of my early feed career mentors, Mick Lovelace, was famous for teaching me and several colleagues I still work with today the value of mineral supplementation. It wasn’t the importance of mineral nutrition that Mick taught but rather the importance of consistent and predictable intake with self-fed supplements. One of his favorite sayings was, “there’s two ways to supplement cattle, our way or the wrong way.” While this is definitely a biased statement and overlooking lots of good products, the take home message he was conveying was that a mineral program, no matter how good it looks on paper, isn’t worth anything if intake is improper or management is lacking.
I once wrote a blog asking if your supplement could multi-task. While the intent of this blog is similar, it will be much more product specific, for the summer ahead. See if you can figure out which product I’m talking about in the paragraphs ahead.