Tips To Avoid Summer Beef Health, Productivity Problems

By Twig Marston, Kansas State Research And Extension. Summer's hot, dry weather can take a toll on cattle in the High Plains, but producers can take steps to keep health and productivity problems at bay.
calendar icon 9 June 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

Marston provided the following tips for producers to keep in mind as they manage their cow herd operations to maximize nutrition and health during July:

  • Provide plenty of clean, fresh water.
  • Provide free-choice mineral to correct any mineral deficiencies or imbalances.
  • Monitor grazing conditions and rotate pastures, if possible and/or practical.
  • Ammoniation can increase the digestibility of wheat straw and other grass hays and crop residues. If planning ammoniated wheat straw for winter needs, keep in mind:
  1. The best time to ammoniate is immediately after wheat harvest, prior to weather  deterioration.
  2. The ammoniation process is temperature-sensitive, fastest during hot days.
  3. Apply 60 pounds of anhydrous ammonia per ton of straw.
  4. Do not ammoniate wheat hay or any other intermediate or high quality forage as production of imidazole, an organic compound, can cause hyperactivity and death .
  5. Process will double crude protein content, enhance intake and be cost effective.

  • Consider early weaning if drought conditions develop and persist.
  • Consider creep feeding only if cost-effective.
  • Monitor and treat pink eye cases.
  • Control flies. Price and efficiency will dictate the best option(s) to use.
  • Monitor and treat foot rot cases.
  • Avoid handling and transporting cattle during the hottest part of the day to reduce heat stress.
  • Vaccinate replacement heifers for Brucellosis if within proper age range (four to 10 months).
  • Continue anaplasmosis control program (consulting local veterinarian).
Marston also provides these tips for forage and pasture management during July:
  • Check and maintain summer water supplies.
  • Place mineral feeders strategically to enhance grazing distribution.
  • Check water gaps after possible washouts.
  • Harvest hays in a timely manner; think quality and quantity. Harvest sudan and sudan hybrids for hay in the boot stage (normally three to four feet in height). If possible, run a routine nitrate test on a field before harvesting hay.
  • Plan hay storage placement wisely. Putting hay conveniently near feeding sites reduces labor, time demands, and equipment repair cost.

Good general management practices, Marston said, also include heeding the old saying “Good fences and good brands make good neighbors.”

And, he recommended that producers check equipment such as sprayers, dust bags, oilers and haying equipment and then repair or replace them, as needed.

“Have spare parts on hand,” Marston added. “Down time can make a big difference in hay quality.”

June 2007

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