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Animal Health Notebook

“Summer Issues” continued

“Summer Issues” continued
Let's continue the conversation regarding summer pasture and what works.

Earlier this month I harped on the loss of forage quality and water quality in the mid-summer and later part of most years. I blamed lack of planning and grazing management on the “slump”.

Lack of cattle performance is a disease in the broader sense, but blackleg, pinkeye, and summer pneumonia are more startling. There is something about blind and/or dead that sure gets our attention.

Lush pasture can give cattle a leg up against disease, yet you need to be ready to respond if trouble arises.

Blackleg is an annual event in our country. The organism loves 3 to 8 month old calves that are doing well, anaerobic clay soils, and pastures that started to liginize and  contain a lot of stems. The normal call is for a dead, very stiff and blown up calf that was fine yesterday or the day before. He or she was always a very “goodin”. The mamma is usually standing around bawling with 3 ½ +  gallons of milk between her hind legs.

Blackleg vaccine works within 5 days after being given subcutaneously. If penicillin is given at the same time the outbreak is over. Otherwise calves will likely continue to die for nearly a week after vaccinating.  The take home message here is blackleg kills quick and kills the better calves, and the vaccine works even if given to newborns.

Yes, follow your vets’ advice concerning dosages, boosters, etc. Don’t get hung out with your pants down. It’s costly and embarrassing.

Blackleg may very likely be a stress induced disease since it seems to require calves that are growing fast on lots of milk and pastures or hay with goodly amounts of stems. But, Pinkeye is a stress disease. I gave my opinions about Pinkeye several months back but everyone seems to ask questions regularly.

Summary of Pinkeye:

-Organism requires a corneal lesion or scratch.

_Common after clipping pastures.

_Vitamin A helps, EDDI helps, fly control helps.

_Pinkeye vaccines help, especially after a booster dose is given.

_Outbreaks in most herds occur every 3-5 yrs.

_Most treatments help.

_Find the stress factor(s) and you will stop outbreaks of Pinkeye (lack of energy is the #1 stress factor most of the time)

__Slick haired, bright eyed cattle do not have much problem with Pinkeye. Don’t forget water quality.

Summer pneumonia can really be frustrating. The organisms are near identical to the ones causing death in 90% of cattle pneumonia. Summer pneumonia is often preceded by a colostrum breech. Either too little, too late, too dilute, or just not high quality. In our area fescue in pretty stands grazed for over 60 days are closely involved and yield low quality colostrum on a regular basis. As usual, low forage energy is important.

Summer pneumonia can kill calves almost as quickly as blackleg. But calves identified early respond to antimicrobial therapy in a high percentage of the cases.

Take home messages:

* ID the underlying stress factors and dilute them extremely.

* Use vaccines that work every year.

* Supplement for true deficiencies and don’t forget energy.

Have a good fall!

R.P. Cooke, DVM

Sparta, TN

**Doc can be reached at 931-761-5001 or email [email protected]

He offers economical telephone consultation service and small group intensive half day outside conferences on multiple ranch and pasture sites. Low input soil building, cattle production and health, and plant energy are his emphasis.

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