On Target Tips

Published on Mon, 05/23/2011 - 10:14am

Spring Work

A couple weeks ago we vaccinated our Red Poll cattle as well as wormed, weaned, and castrated most of the bulls.  Fall calving allows us to get the herd up, work them, and turn the cows back out for summer grazing.

Our protocol is very simple:

1. Cows are weighted, their hip height is measured, and a body condition score is determined.

2. Cows are palpated for the last time to confirm pregnancy dates.

3. Cows are vaccinated with Bovi-shield Gold® FP® 5 L5 to prevent respiratory infections as well as Leptospirosos.  This is a modified live virus and only has to be given once a year.  Ultrabac® 7 is used to prevent all strains of Black Leg.  Once PMH® by Intervet is also given to prevent Mannheimia Haemolytica - Pasteurella Multocida diseases.  All vaccines are given subcutaneously in the neck using aseptic techniques.  Use one-inch needles and change frequently to keep sharp and avoid trauma to the injection site.  Mix the vaccines gently in small quantities and place into a covered ice chest.  Unused products are discarded after working the herd.

4. A rotational wormer is used each spring.  This time we used a name brand pour-on topical.  Dose each cow according to her weight.  Do not guess a dose.  Under dose or overdose will cause you to throw a way medicine, thus wasting profit.

5. Give a quick look over to the cow in the chute. Check anything that looks abnormal, such as worn out teeth, lumps, udder problems, limping, or eye growths. This may determine if you should have these cows cut out of the herd.  This is also a perfect time to replace missing ear tags.

6. Mama cows are then placed into an area with good pasture beside a guardrail coral, where weanlings will be placed for 10 days.  Be sure the area where your weanlings will be placed is very secure and safe from injury.  Our water system and hayracks are the same in this area so there is no problem with adapting. Try to minimize stress to both mama and calf during these times.

7. The calves go through the same manner of vaccination protocol.

8. Worming is also administered according to their weight.  A fecal is collected two weeks prior and egg counts are determined.

9. Calves are approximate 205 days old and ready to be weaned.  Weights and heights are taken to add to the equation for EPD’s and frame scores.  We combine them with birth weights to choose our best calves for keeping.  Our policy is to save the top 30% of the heifers for either replacements back into the herd or sold for breeding.  Only four or five bull calves are kept for future herd sires.  The rest of the heifers and steers are placed in a separate feed out area where my son takes charge of marketing the finished product to a local restaurant (that praises our beef).

10. Bull calves that do not meet our standards are castrated and placed in the coral with our heifers for a 10 day observation.  If there is a problem, we can easily get those animals up quickly and safely to be worked.  This makes it very free of stress during a stressful time in a calf’s life.

11. As a safety precaution, the new replacement heifers are given a dose of prostaglandin just to be sure they are not bred accidentally.

12. The best heifers are then moved to the upper pastures to be feed high protein grass and separated from the main herd.

13. Steers and the rest of the heifers will be moved to the finish out pastures.

14. Work your cattle slow and quiet.  Avoid shouting, sticks, and hot shots.  You will be surprised how much healthier your animals are through out their lives.

15. Record your information.  You can never have enough statistics on your cattle.  Each year review your program and set higher goals for the next calf season.  Improve! Improve! Improve!  Now you are in the cattle business.