December 07, 2023

From the Barns: Keeping herd healthy

My how things can change in just one month. I am talking about the weather and subsequent conditions. Every other month has been different all summer. May was wet, then June got fairly dry, then July was extremely wet. Got into August and it has turned really dry. We haven’t had hardly any measurable precipitation in the last 30 days and it is certainly showing the effects. Pastures have gone from green with a lot of forage to brown and short. Also dry and dusty and that doesn’t bode well for cattle health. I hope September reverses this problem, but I have a feeling it will stay dry and warm.

We did manage to get some Wintergrazer cereal rye sowed last week, 80 acres of it. Half of that acreage is in bottom and that had enough moisture still yet to get that sprouted. The ridges have still not come up. They are calling for a decent chance of rain each of the next seven days, so hopefully we will get something out of that. That would really do that rye some good at the right time. If we could get a good stand up and going, we should have a lot of forage to graze mid-late fall and then again late winter and spring.

We did end up getting three loads of fat steers delivered up to Tama this past month and sold on the USPB grid. We ended up running between 50% and 65% prime for those loads. Will not have any more fats ready to go until late October. We did ship out two loads of 8-weight heifers today. They ended up going to Nebraska.

A lot of feeder cattle seem to be moving right now, especially out of the south. In the last eight days, we have received 325 heifers, weighing 425 to 525, plus others we got earlier in August — we have got a lot of newer cattle to care for. Trying to keep them all vaccinated and boostered up and stay on top of sickness. Today we treated quite a few of the heifers that came in last week, but hoping we caught them at the right time to stop any mass illness.

I am really trying to track vaccination protocols and antibiotic response to pulls and there are a slew of results to look at. One thing is for certain and that is that each group has its own unique problems and has to be handled and treated accordingly.

It is just a fact that some of these higher risk cattle, no matter how you process them or medicate them, are going to get sick and turn into mortalities or chronics. Can’t completely be avoided, but the key is to minimize those problems. In the last month, we have added the Endovac-Beef vaccine, and we are thinking the most recent cattle have shown less signs of sickness than, say, the cattle we have been placing earlier in the summer. We will continue to monitor that and I will hopefully have some conclusions on antibiotic successes by next month.

We have been buying and bringing in a lot of hay over the last several weeks. We go through a lot of hay over the course of a year, either through the tub grinder which ultimately ends up in growing/finishing diets or to be fed to breeding stock this winter. If conditions stay dry, we may be forced to feed a lot more hay than normal, so we are trying to be prepared and have plenty of hay on hand just in case that happens.

Jeff Beasley

Jeff Beasley

Creal Springs, Ill.