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SDSU survey collects beef cow loss data

Sudhakar Bisen/Getty Images A dead cow laying in a field
UNEXPLAINED DEATH: Beef cow producers face death on the ranch, it is a fact of farm life. However, pinpointed why an animal died is often difficult. SDSU Extension is asking farmers to fill out a survey when a cow dies in hopes of finding the answer.
Extension specialists and veterinarians are investigating beef cow loss before calving.

Losing beef cows with or without clear causes of death is a frustrating reality that beef cattle producers face. Several environmental, nutritional and infectious circumstances can be involved. Still oftentimes the causes are not apparent, and it remains a mystery.

This year, a group of South Dakota State University Extension professionals and veterinarians are asking farmers who suffered cow deaths from now through calving season to contact them. They are collecting information and trying to solve some of these unexplained deaths.

“Our cow-calf producers put so much work and resources into breeding and maintaining the cows in their herds,” according to a news release from Russ Daly, SDSU Extension veterinarian and state public health veterinarian. “Any death loss represents a huge financial cost to that operation.”

Gathering intel

To help understand and prevent future beef cow loss, SDSU Extension is asking cattle producers who experience loss this season to participate in an online survey. It will gather information such as age of cow, body condition and environment. It asks grazing options like native, crop residues or introduced grasses. And other possible causes like water quality. All of the questions are related to death losses in beef cows from pasture turnout and calving.

Information shared will remain anonymous and will not be used for any purpose other than the project.

Beef producers willing to participate can access the survey on their computer or mobile device at The survey will stay open indefinitely.

Finding patterns

Daly says the group will take basic information about the animals and their environments and see what trends emerge. “We can then drill down on those factors, with a goal of determining interventions that can help prevent some of these death losses in the future,” he adds.

Currently, the survey is focused on cattle in South Dakota, and on cows that have had at least one calf, Daly explains. He adds that SDSU is interested in what cattle producers and veterinarians can share. However, if other producers have insights that don’t specifically fit the survey, they are certainly encouraged to reach out to Daly or their local SDSU Extension specialists.”

Producers who experience death losses should work with their veterinarian to determine what may be involved with each specific situation.

For more information regarding the survey or questions regarding beef cow health and loss, contact Daly at [email protected] or 605-688-6589

Source: The South Dakota State University Extension is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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