Beef meetings to concentrate on successful calving
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Producers can get a head start for calving season by taking advice from area experts.
The 2009-2010 area beef meetings, hosted by the Indiana Beef Cattle Association (IBCA) and Purdue University, will take place in Indiana's 10 Extension areas between November and January.
"The meetings will provide producers with valuable information that they can use for their own herds," said Ron Lemenager, Purdue Extension beef specialist.
Topics for this year's meetings include calving, vaccinating for scours and the Sandhill Calving System.
In 2007 the beef industry started a downturn in the number of cattle raised throughout the nation, and the current numbers do not show much improvement. The number of cows across the country and in Indiana is down because of the significant rise in input costs such as feed and land prices.
"Since producers don't have as many cows, we won't see calf numbers as high as we have in the past. We want producers to understand the importance of calf survival and what they can do during the calving season to improve that," Lemenager said.
One way to improve calf survival is to protect them from scours. Scours in newborn calves is usually caused by a bacteria or virus.
"Scours can rapidly dehydrate a calf, a leading cause of mortality. Force-feeding electrolytes with an esophageal feeder to rehydrate the calf is an important part of treating calf scours," Lemenager said.
There are three main steps producers should take in order to protect the herd from scours: nutrition, antibody protection from colostrum and protection from nature's elements.
Cow nutrition will be a primary factor in determining colostrum quality and the calf's ability to absorb the immune globulins that provide it with passive immunity.
"Colostrum is essential for calf health. It gives the calf the ability to resist disease and fight off infection," Lemenager said.
Producers should make sure that the calf gets the colostrum shortly after birth. If the calf does not, then the large protein molecules that provide passive immunity will be virtually gone within 12 hours.
Environment also is important. Calving season can last several months, which means producers have to be prepared for different types of weather conditions.
The type of environment the calf is born into should be dry and free of wind.
"Newborn calves need a low-stress environment free of mud, rain and wind, which are all big stressors for calves. If they are outside, they need some type of shelter where they can get away from the weather," Lemenager said.
The Sandhill Calving System was developed so each cow that was calving could give birth in a clean pasture. It involves rotating pregnant cows to a clean pasture on a weekly basis.
"A producer can start out with a set number of cows ready to calve within a month of each other. The producer will want to move the non-calved cows to a new clean pasture each week," Lemenager said.
This system separates newborn calves from later-born calves and also prevents the spread of disease.
The first meeting is Nov. 5 in Butlerville. Other locations include Mitchell, Jasper, Greencastle, Martinsville, Richmond, Logansport, West Lafayette, Wanatah and Columbia City.
For more information on the meetings visit http://www.indianabeef.org/assn/documentz/oct2009/200910_regional_mtg_scheduleforweb.pdf or contact Lemenager at 765-494-4817, firstname.lastname@example.org, or the IBCA at 317-293-2333.
Writer: Sayde Rayburn, 765-494-8402, email@example.com
Source: Ron Lemenager, 765-494-4817, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ag Communications: (765) 494-8415
Steve Leer, email@example.com
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