August 10, 2015

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk. Sure glad you joined us today. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. I’m joined here by Dr. Dave Rethorst. We’re gonna have a great show talking about Weaning Quality Assurance. And if you haven’t noticed yet, we have some special guests here, our Advanced Feedlot Production Medicine Class. We have Kansas State, Colorado State, Washington State, and North Carolina State fourth year veterinary students represented and we even have a birthday today-David Hanks. Anyway, thanks for joining us. More to come. Stay tuned.

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(Dan) Dr. Dave welcome to the show. (Dave) Glad to be here, as always Dan. (Dan) Folks, Dr. Dave Rethorst is the Director of Outreach for the Beef Cattle Institute and is a great veterinarian for the beef industry. And today we’re gonna talk about a program that he’s developed and is working with producers and veterinarians called Weaning Quality Assurance. And Dr. Dave when we talk about…kind of give us some of the general premise of what is around Weaning Quality Assurance. (Dave) Well Weaning Quality Assurance starts with a typical preconditioning program, where the calves are vaccinated, weaned, castrated, dehorned on the ranch for 45 days. But Weaning Quality Assurance takes that a couple of steps farther. One, we go back and we look at the maternal nutrition while that cow’s pregnant and make sure that…we want to make sure the protein and the energy are right. We want to make sure the trace mineral supplementation is proper that last trimester. So, we really enhance that calf’s immune system from birth on. The other thing we emphasize is low stress handling, low stress weaning methods. Anything we can do to reduce the stress on that calf and enhance the immune system. (Dan) So, it’s kind of taken theā€¦couple of things, it’s that Vac-45 preconditioning program, plus managing the nutrition of that calf from conception to weaning. (Dave) Right. (Dan) And incorporating the cattle handling, which really hasn’t been incorporated in those preconditioning programs. So, it really is a quality assurance program, not necessarily a…something that’s hard and fast or thou shalt…or… (Dave) Right. It’s not a thou shalt, but we really encourage, you know the low stress handling. If you’re gonna vaccinate calves, you don’t gather ’em from six miles out and bring ’em in a run and vaccinate ’em and wean ’em all in the same day. Too many stressors. (Dan) Right. And I think that one of the things that when we do look at the traditional preconditioning program the common comment is, well why would I do that? I’m not gonna get paid for it? You know, I think that we’re seeing those economic signals today with the price of these cattle. (Dave) Absolutely with the price of these cattle, when you’ve got to pay $1,200 to $1,500 dollars for a weaned calf this fall, you want to make sure that the people you’re buying that calf from have done everything they possibly can for that calf to live in your possession. (Dan) Yep. And I think the other thing that people forget about in the preconditioning program, or maybe they don’t realize, is that it isn’t necessarily the price premium at the sale barn, but it’s the pounds that you can potentially put on those calves. (Dave) It’s the pounds for that 45 days is what really pays the bill on that thing. (Dan) Cool. Well, we’re gonna take a break. And we’re gonna come back with Dr. Dave and we’re gonna talk about some of the different methods in which you can wean these calves, whether it’s a soft wean or different techniques from around the country that Dr. Dave has studied and incorporated into Weaning Quality Assurance. Thanks for watching DocTalk. We’re gonna take a break. And we’ll be back with Weaning Quality Assurance with Dr. Dave Rethorst.

(Dan) Folks, welcome back to Doc Talk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with my colleague and friend, Dr. Dave Rethorst. We both are at the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University in the College of Veterinary Medicine. And weaning is one of those potentially stressful moments in the calf’s life. And in the cow’s life. And so what we can do to alleviate that stress and prevent shipping stress or bovine respiratory disease, or improve performances is important. And Dr. Dave, let’s go through some of the things, because weaning is a lot of things, but the thing that we’re really talking about here is maternal separation. (Dave) Right. And typically the beef industry has used just an abrupt separation or abrupt weaning. You take the calf off the cow and the further apart you can get those two, the better off you are. Creates a lot of stress, makes that calf walk and bawl and more prone to have to be treated for respiratory disease. There’s several methods out there that we can use to cut down that stress. The first one I usually talk about is an Australian method that’s called Yard Weaning. And it’s actually an abrupt weaning, separate the cows and calves. Get the cows out of the picture, but then those people go in and they start handling those cattle in the pen every day. They walk ’em down the fence, they stop ’em, they turn ’em around, take ’em back, stop ’em, they’ll take ’em up by the bunk. And as Dr. Tom says, park ’em by the bunk so they know where the bunk is, they know where the tank is. But they start off doing that twice a day, just to calm those calves, show ’em where the tank and bunk are. (Dan) And provide some guidance for those cattle in the pen. So, they’re really… this goes back to Dr. Tom Noffsinger’s acclimation, exercise the cattle to help them understand what’s going on. (Dave) What’s going on. And you form a bond between the cattle and the caregiver. (Dan) And you’re building trust then. (Dave) Right. (Dan) In the cattle, so that they’re easier to handle, calm ’em down, decrease the stress. (Dave) Absolutely, right, absolutely. (Dan) OK. (Dave) OK. Second method is what we call the Hawaiian Method. And that starts like at spring branding time. You get those calves branded, vaccinated, castrated and then you hold ’em off of the cow overnight. At sunup the next morning you put ’em back with Mom. Then when you get to your preweaning vaccination, you do the same thing. You get the calves vaccinated. You hold ’em off the cow overnight, provide ’em a little bit of hay, a little bit of water. Sunup the next morning, you put ’em back with Mom. And what you’re doing in that situation is just training that calf to be separated from Mom. Training them that it’s not a great, big deal to be separated from Mom. (Dan) And then they go right back on the next day. (Dave) They go back on the next day. This is the method that Dr. Tom uses on his wife’s cows. And in fact, Dr. Tom will separate those calves one time between the preweaning vaccination and weaning just to reinforce that, that hey, it’s alright to be separated from Mom. And then they get to weaning and you know, put ’em in the pen, but the next morning they don’t go back with Mom and they’re not upset about it. Works great. (Dan) Cool. Let’s take a break. When we come back, couple more methods of maternal separation with Dr. Dave Rethorst.

(Dan) Folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Dave Rethorst. And we’re talking about Weaning Quality Assurance, which is a program that Dr. Dave has developed and is working on with other universities and people around the world to improve the stress situation around calves and the weaning times. But as we left we were talking about two of the four ways to separate calves and decrease stress. We’ve got two more to discuss. (Dave) Yes. The first one is that we’re gonna talk about now is the… what’s commonly called the Two Step Method, or the Nose Flap Method. And what this involves is putting a clip in the nose of these calves about a week before you’re planning on weaning. And what this clip does is it prevents that calf from nursing. So, that calf is still out there with Mom on pasture or where ever, and he can graze and he can drink water, but he can’t nurse. And so then a week later, you wean the calves, you run ’em back through, give ’em any boosters or whatever that are needed, but then you take that nose clip out. And they haven’t nursed for a week. So, it’s just a way to cut down on that stress. They aren’t in the pen saying, well I really want to nurse. They’re already used to not nursing. (Dan) Right. So they know how to eat, they know how to drink. They aren’t looking for Mom for nourishment. I assume that when you put that first nose flap, put that in that week, is when you’re gonna give that first vaccination. (Dave) Right. (Dan) While you got ’em in the chute. (Dave) While you got ’em in the chute. You can give that preweaning vaccination and you know if you did things right in the spring, that’s just a booster anyway, so we’re in good shape. (Dan) Cool. (Dave) OK. Then our last method is called Fence Line Weaning. And that’s just basically what it is. You separate the cows and calves. Put the calves in the pen where they’ve got feed and water and then the cows are maintained for a few days, just across the fence from those calves. So, calves can still see Mom. They can talk to Mom over the fence, they just can’t go nurse. But it keeps those calves calmer when they aren’t at the bunk eating or getting a drink of water at the tank. They can go back and lay against the fence next to Mom and everything’s hunky dory. (Dan) Yea. Great technique and compared to what…the abrupt weaning and that, it really takes some thought and some involvement on the producer’s end. (Dave) Right. Takes some planning. Takes sometimes a little facility changes or whatever, but really pays huge benefits in reducing the stress and thus reducing the antibiotics we’ve got to use and the number of calves we’ve got to handle to treat. (Dan) You bet. Handling calves. Anything special on calves versus bigger cattle that we need to pay attention to? (Dave) Just work with the cattle. Just learn balance points and realize that they’re prey animals and think about what you’re doing. What it boils down to- get back to basic animal husbandry. (Dan) Yep. And I think that one of the things that I’ve learned from Dr. Tom through Bud Williams is build trust in the cattle. Don’t be noisy. Use that low stress cattle handling. Use the instincts of the cattle. We’re gonna take a break folks. When we come back, we’ll wrap up with Dr. Dave Rethorst on Weaning Quality Assurance.

(Dan) Folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with my friend Dr. David Rethorst, who is the Director of Outreach for the Beef Cattle Institute and spends a lot of time with producers. He’s a veterinarian. He’s got 35 years of practice experience. And still learning everyday, just like the rest of us. But a wealth of knowledge when it come to beef cattle production and this Weaning Quality Assurance program that he’s developed with collaboration of many others. Let’s talk a little bit about some of the traditional points of the preconditioning whether it’s vaccinations and castrating, dehorning or deworming. When are..when and what are we willing to vaccinate with? (Dave) Our typical Vac-45 program want a viral vaccination in those calves. They want a clostridial vaccination, internal and external parasites addressed and the calves weaned for 45 days. And that’s our baseline. (Dan) OK. (Dave) But the main thing the difference between the 45 and the other programs is whether they’re weaned or not, a true preconditioning program is that calf that is vaccinated, castrated early in life, dehorned early in life, weaned on the ranch for 45 days. We’ve got other programs out there that don’t involve the weaning, but you really can’t call those calves a preconditioned calf. Those are a preweaned, vaccinated calf, that are sold off the cow. (Dan) Right. (Dave) Different deal. (Dan) Right. So when we vaccinate, when are some of the times that we’re getting those vaccinations in those calves? I understand branding. (Dave) OK. (Dave) Branding. (Dan) Or turnout. (Dave) Turnout, yea. Turnout is.. we want to get traditionally, we get a clostridial in those calves. We really like to get a viral vaccination in those calves at that time. (Dan) And that’s gonna be your BVD, IBR, PI3 and BRSV. (Dave) BVRS. And I’m…we can use a killed or we can used a modified live. I really like the modified live because it primes those white blood cells better than the killed vaccine does. (Dan) OK. (Dave) And that way when we do that vaccination ahead of weaning, that is a true booster. (Dan) OK. (Dave) And we get better immunity if we go modified live at spring branding and then another modified live. (Dan) Let’s move forward to bringing off grass or when we’re coming to weaning, we’re gonna do a preweaning shot? (Dave) I really like the preweaning shots, you know. I really like two to three weeks out, do a booster on our viral, do a booster on our clostridial, and we’ll go ahead in many instances and use like an injectable avermectin there so we get that parasite load cut down ahead of weaning. (Dan) Perfect. Thanks for being here today. (Dave) Good to be here. (Dan) Folks, thanks for watching Doc Talk. Remember to always work with your local veterinarian. If you want to know more about what we do you can find us on the web at I’m Dr. Dan Thomson from Kansas State University. You’ve been watching DocTalk. Thanks for doing that. I’ll see you down the road.

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