Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
November 11, 1999

Avoiding Weaning Problems

The dry fall has provided us with solid footing for both harvesting crops and livestock. The lack of mud is a blessing compared to environmental conditions we have experienced in past years. However, all pleasant experiences come at a cost of some sort.

The dry conditions have added to environmental stress. Moving livestock from a grazing area to dry dusty lots sets the stage for the development of respiratory problems. The dust inhaled from a dusty lot contains numerous spores that irritate the lung tissue. The dust itself may not be the culprit for lung congestion, but the dust provides a vehicle for detrimental organisms to enter the respiratory system and create havoc with tissue lining the lungs. Any time livestock managers have the opportunity to reduce the potential for the development of respiratory maladies we must take advantage of this management tool. One way to assist with reducing this problem is to put the cows in confinement and maintain the calves on a pasture across the fence from the cow herd. This method is just the reverse from what the standard procedure has been in the past. However, this management practice has worked extremely well for many producers.

Another very important management procedure that we need to consider this year is the quality of the water available for livestock. At a recent Beef Rendezvous meeting, Dr. Don Hunziger of Braymer Veterinary Services cautioned about digestive problems related to coccidiosis. The organism that causes this problem is present at all times. Under stressed conditions coccidia have the opportunity to raise their ugly heads and invade the gut lining of the cattle, often times resulting in bloody discharge. When we have this problem occurring in livestock, the opportunity for other organisms to enter the digestive system and spread to other parts of the body increases. The lack of water in ponds and cattle consuming muddy water is a primary method for the invasion of this organism. This past week I observed a cow in mud up to her belly while trying to get to what water was available in the only watering source in the pasture.

Providing clean water in a dust-free environment is an excellent management procedure to follow to reduce the probability for health problems for newly-weaned feeder cattle. If you have the opportunity to provide water in a tank that has to be filled with a hose or hydrant, then you have the opportunity to treat coccidiosis the instant it starts. There are numerous feeds on the market that contain a coccidiostat. However, keep in mind that a calf will usually drink and may not be enticed to eat from a bunk. Using preventive measures to reduce the potential for these problems will certainly be beneficial toward reducing treatment cost, prolonging the feeding period, and reducing feeding cost.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - November 11, 1999
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT111199.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004