We are already rolling through August.... not sure how summer goes so fast. As we approach fall, and incoming calves, I thought it would be a good time to talk about calves on intake.
STRESS: A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
Stress is a huge factor in how cattle perform. Where did your calves come from? A ranch? Sale barn? How many different tag colors are in the group? When were they weaned? Did they have vaccines prior to shipping? How long were they hauled? How long were they without food and water?
Most of these factors are out of your hands, but you can be ready on arrival and do everything possible to minimize additional stress.
Have water readily available, tanks full and clean on arrival
Have feed bunks full on arrival, no noisy tractors or equipment running by the bunks after unloading
If bedding, have in pens before arrival
If running cattle through the chute on arrival, for vaccines or metaphalaxis, have quiet, functioning facilities, do not keep cattle in holding pens, away from food and water any longer than needed
If waiting to process cattle, let cattle acclimate for 3 weeks. If cattle are going to get sick, 10-14 days is the worst timing...
If implanting, cattle must have energy to utilize implant... sick cattle are slowed by implanting.
For those weaning their own calves, low stress is still important, and it is all in your control.
Vaccinate calves prior to weaning!!! 3-4 weeks is ideal, time for immunity to build up before a stressful event.
Revaccinate 3-4 weeks after weaning.
Do NOT process cattle 10-14 days after weaning!!
Facilities- Make sure cattle and handlers have a safe environment.
Check for broken gates or panels, check for sharp edges for feet or sides to get caught on
Have clean needles and syringes, DO NOT insert dirty needles into vaccine bottles
Have functional head gate, adjusted to animal size
Minimize noise of equipment, whether repositioning motor for hydralics, adding rubber to gates
No yelling-cattle do not understand English/Spanish, or respond well to loud sounds
Electric prods are not a replacement for poor set up!!! If there is poor cattle flow, re-evaluate your system.. walk through and see what the cattle are seeing
With a tub system, cattle should spend minimal time in tub, only load as many as can fit into alley and chute... the longer they stay in an area with no exit, the more agitated they become
Be an advocate for production agriculture.
Livestock has to be a priority 365 days of the year
Continue to improve cattle comfort and health
Be open to outside advise... take advantage of outside collaboration: veterinarians and nutritionist should work together when problems arise
Tradition isn't always best, think outside the box....
Be very cautious of what you put on social media... train wrecks have a way of traveling around the world
Contact your veterinarian for vaccination protocols, health concerns, facility recommendations, troubleshooting... we are all in it for the steaks!