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A newborn black angus calf with it's mother

Very doable synchronization programs

Animal Health: Timing and attention to detail are key for breeding beef by AI

Several factors must be considered when deciding what AI synchronization program to use in your herd. One of the first is whether you have the time to heat detect yourself or if you want timed breeding. Cost is a consideration, as timed AI programs require more financial commitment and more passes through the chute. The three main synchronization programs I find most successful […] Read more


Fixing fractures in cattle is doable

Early attention to treatment can often get the critter back on its feet

Accidents happen. Sometimes a cow steps on her calf, breaking its leg, or a limb fractures due to extensive or improper pressure applied during a difficult calving. Veterinarian Eric Laporte, with the Bonnyville Clinic at Bonnyville, northeast of Edmonton, says he doesn’t see as many dystocia-related fractures now as in the past, due to better […] Read more



cow and calf

Hard to beat the value of good colostrum

Calf Management: Watch for blood infections such as septicemia

Calves sometimes develop systemic infection in which bacteria or their toxins get into the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. Some types of toxin-forming bacteria (usually gaining entrance to the body via the GI tract, after damaging the gut lining and slipping through it) cause rapid death. The calf goes into shock when internal organs […] Read more


Protecting calves through vaccination

Best to consult with veterinarian on what’s right for your farm

Newborn calves gain temporary (passive) immunity from disease when they ingest colostrum, since this “first milk” contains antibodies. After a few weeks or months this temporary protection diminishes, so calves must build their own immunities. Vaccinating at the proper time can help protect them until weaning age. Vaccinating them too soon, however, may not stimulate […] Read more



Old school nutrition works after calving

It doesn't have to cost a lot to maintain proper body condition

Already, I know a few producers have had a couple of sleepless nights checking cows at calving. Most have told me all has gone well, because their cows came through the winter in good shape and were well-prepared for this year’s calving season. Moving forward, they now feed their calved-out beef cows diets which contain […] Read more


Dealing with birthing complications

Congenital abnormalities can impede calving process

Occasionally a difficult calving is caused by abnormality in the fetus. David Steffen, a diagnostic pathologist at the University of Nebraska, says that whenever you’re checking a cow or heifer that’s not making progress in labour, keep in mind the possibility of congenital abnormality. Some congenital defects in the calf may hinder the birth progress […] Read more



Don’t overuse antibiotics in livestock

Cattle sometimes heal themselves, but get veterinary advice

Ranchers often wonder which antibiotics they should have on hand for calving. They like to be prepared, in case a calf becomes ill, a cow needs treatment after a difficult birth, or develops mastitis or some other infection. Dr. David Smith of Mississippi State University says cattlemen probably need to use fewer antibiotics than they […] Read more


Trace minerals directly affect unborn calves

If the cow isn’t getting sufficient minerals calf development and strength suffers

Within the next few months, there will be a lot of newborn calves on the ground. Fair- to good-quality forage is quite plentiful this year and grain is a reasonable price, so most of the cow herds I have seen across Western Canada this winter are in good body condition for calving. But one area […] Read more



Gruesome, but sometimes necessary

Animal Health: When there’s no other options, a dead calf needs to dismembered for removal

Fetotomy is a veterinarian’s fancy word for cutting up a dead calf within the cow during the birthing. While it sounds gruesome the process still has a valuable place in a competent veterinarian’s bag of tricks. The object is to reduce trauma or minimize damage to the cow. The calf at this point is a […] Read more


Several options for winter grazing

Better to spend money on topping up nutrition than hauling feed

Winter grazing can work because it addresses one of the largest costs in maintaining a cow herd — yardage. For a simple definition, yardage is everything that is not feed. It includes tractors, fuel, depreciation on equipment, yard lights, fences, corrals and labour among other things. Some recent work in both Alberta and Saskatchewan has […] Read more