The University of Nebraska has conducted several years of cow-calf research examining and comparing the potential for different production systems in Nebraska. Recent research has examined feeding cows and cow-calf pairs in a dry lot during a portion of the year as an alternative to grazing grass pasture.
In beef production, we tend to overdue genetic selection with the mentality that “more is better” or “bigger is better” in efforts to increase production. In doing so, we tend to select for short-term traits such as growth and milk yield to increase calf weaning weight for the potential of increased profitability.
As spring nears and grass begins to turn green, producers are anxious to get cows out to grass. However, cool season predominate areas tend to have lush spring growth which can lead to grass tetany in cows. While there are treatments for cows caught quick enough, prevention is always the best policy.
For most producers the spring breeding season is still a ways off, but now is a good time to review estrus synchronization protocols and develop a plan for this year. There are several Extension resources that can be helpful in preparing for the upcoming breeding season.
Brittle bone disease, or osteogenesis imperfecta, is a detrimental disorder in livestock. Calves with the condition commonly suffer multiple bone fractures in utero or at delivery, and if able to stand, have lax tendons. Depending on the cause, calves may also have blue coloration in what is otherwise the white of the eye and soft teeth. Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) occurs in many species where it is more highly studied. In most cases, it is attributed to a new genetic mutation that occurred in the affected individual.
Shelter for livestock during the winter months can influence the success of calving and a livestock operation. Protection from the wind and snow is not always readily available from natural topography or living windbreaks such as tree lines or shrub rows. The presence of wind increases heat loss in livestock during the winter and can penetrate the hair coat allowing cold air to reach the skin, accelerating the loss of heat. Constructing windbreaks increases protection for livestock. Installing a windbreak needs to come with the end goal in mind.
Colostrum, or first milk produced by the mother after birth, is high in nutrients and antibodies. A newborn calf lacks disease protection because antibodies do not pass across the cow’s placenta to the fetus’ circulatory system. Antibodies in colostrum provide calves with their initial protection.
Calves need about two quarts of colostrum (or at least five percent of the calf’s body weight) within four hours of birth – ideally within 30 minutes – and one gallon within 12 hours.