In Maryland, May and June are the ideal breeding season for spring calving herds – pastures are looking good and the high heat and humidity of the summers here hasn’t hit yet, making for lower stress cattle handling. With each breeding season, it’s important to look back on past years – stick with methods that have worked and also learn from mistakes that were made.
As summer heats up, water becomes more important for cattle. An animal’s body is comprised of 70% water and adequate water consumption is required to maximize performance. It’s no secret that withholding or restricting water can decrease feed intake and reduce gains. Yet many producers often forget to assess whether or not their animals have optimal access to high quality water. An animal’s water requirement is met through consumption of feed and drinking. Many feeds, such as silage and grasses, contain a large proportions of water that help cattle meet their water requirement. Additional requirements are met through drinking.
As winter approaches and cool-season grass growth begins to diminish, cattle producers should start thinking, if they haven’t already, about how much forage they will need to maintain their animals through the winter.
The fecal egg count reduction test is a tool that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a dewormer. This tool should be incorporated into the parasite management program on the farm to monitor the development of dewormer resistance.
There is no question that heat stress can negatively impact animal performance. Exposure to heat stress reduces daily gains, milk production, and reproductive efficiency, though specific impacts on production varies depending on the magnitude and duration of heat exposure. Prolonged exposure to heat stress is much more detrimental than short-term heat stress and its effects linger long after temperatures drop back below the heat stress threshold.
Weaning is one of the most stressful times for calves, and it doesn’t help that it’s also the most common time to give vaccinations. No one wants to work their cattle more than necessary. The WHEN of weaning: Generally 6-8 months of age; though calves can be weaned as young as 3 months. As long as your cows have good body condition and you have ample feed, there is really no reason to wean early. In Maryland, the majority of farms wean in the fall: September through early November.
Although the weather has been unseasonably cool through April and May, it’s not too early to start thinking about fly control. There are three major types of flies with economic significance to the U.S. beef and dairy industries. These include horn flies, face flies, and stable flies. Often, a combination of fly control measures will be the most effective. If one method does not seem to be working, double check to make sure that it is the right approach for the type of flies you see on your cattle. Make sure the proper dose of insecticide is being administered to the animals at each application. Furthermore, implement cleaning procedures to regularly remove decaying organic matter from sacrifice or feeding areas.
Producers should make culling decisions based on what is best for their farm’s profitability and what is best for animal well-being. In short, market cattle while they are in a condition that processors prefer before they become a transportation risk and their value declines.