December 14, 2015

(Dan) Dr. Dan here, we’re gonna have a great show with Dr. Chris Reinhardt. For those of you that are in places where it snows, this is gonna be a fun one to talk about. It’s talking about prevention of cold stress in beef calves. And even if you don’t live where it snows, it can get cold and those cattle aren’t acclimated it might be more important for you. Stay tuned and enjoy the show.

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(Dan) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk. With me today is Dr. Chris Reinhardt who is a friend and a colleague over in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry here at Kansas State University. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson from the Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology here at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University and Chris, thanks for being on the show. (Chris) It’s a great day Doc. (Dan) It always is a great day. And we’re thankful for you all to watch DocTalk and we’re gonna talk about cold stress in calves. And I will talk the first segment and we will kind of tag team this today. I’ll talk about the little ones and then we’ll get Dr. Reinhardt involved with the feeder calves and the cows and others. But when we start out and the baby calf hits the ground, a lot of times we calve in the time of year where we still have snow on the ground and we can get cold stress in those baby calves. And the one thing I never really knew, you know, the easy way to diagnose cold stress in a calf, I mean granted when you find one that’s covered with ice or snow and it’s shivering, you know that you’re gonna have a cold stress. But you can use a rectal thermometer. And if those calves are less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, then they’re in mild hypothermia. If they get into that less than 94 degrees Fahrenheit that’s kind of your cutoff with your thermometer and some of your thermometers don’t go down that low, you better get one that does. That’s when you get into severe hypothermia. And that’s when we’ve got to warm those calves up. But less than 100 is mild. Less than 94 is severe. Make sure you get those calves in someplace to warm ’em up. There’s three ways to warm up baby calves. You can use the cab of the pickup, it’s probably OK when they’re 100 degrees or 99, but if they start to drop in that severe, then we’re talking about warming blankets, we’re talking about water baths, we’re talking about heat boxes. And you know, the first one, the water bath, if you’re gonna run water in a bath you’ve got to make sure you pop the calves head up, don’t let him drown. And then you want the water to be around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The thing I don’t like about water baths, if you’re going to use a water bath put a water bath out in the calving barn. OK? I see people that bring calves into their home, put ’em in bathtub, and we actually had a young child that died due to this because they put a calf to warm him up in the bath tub, the calf had salmonella. You get salmonella in the bathtub, the young child took a bath the next night, drank some of the water, got a multi-drug resistant salmonella. So, if you’re gonna use a water bath, do that. We use the warming blankets. You want to make sure you don’t burn the calf, you don’t have the blankets too hot. If you’re gonna use a hot box or a heat box, keep that box at 105-108 and make sure you have ventilation. Cause if you don’t have good ventilation, and air moving through you can get hot pockets there in those boxes. So, clean out the box between calves so that you don’t have diarrhea or different things pass between the calves. And then once you get ’em warmed up, then we’re gonna want to make sure you get colostrum in those calves. Or maybe you want to put colostrum in those calves before. But the key to neonates, whether it’s a puppy, a kitten, or a calf, when it’s cold stress, fluids, and warmth. Fluids and warmth. Two major things with starting those calves. We’re off and running. We’re gonna come back. We’re gonna get Dr. Reinhardt involved, talk about feedlot and cows cold stress. Thanks for joining us on Doc Talk. We’ll be back after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. We’re here with Dr. Chris Reinhardt, who is the Kansas Beef Cattle Extension Specialist and does a lot of work with feedlot cattle, does work with cow/calf production units, works globally. You’ve been in England, Mexico…(Chris) South Africa. (Dan) South Africa. (Chris) Spain. (Dan) Spain and western Kansas. And we spend a lot of time going to western Kansas. I don’t travel so well overseas, but Dr. Reinhardt is the one that does a good job on that. But let’s talk about cold stress and feedlot cattle Chris. (Chris) It’s the perfect time to start talking Doc. And as you mentioned on the neonates, preparation is critical. Cause if you’re going to cover this up after it’s already a problem, we’re gonna dig a really deep hole. (Dan) Right. And so when we get into the feedlots, we’re talking about mud, cold, and water. (Chris) It’s easy to forget how important mud is in this problem. If we’re out in western Kansas and we haven’t gotten much precip, really we’re into January before we’re really worried about the real bitter cold, coming out of the north. But if you’ve got wet pen conditions it doesn’t have to be all that cold to really put the hammer on feeder cattle. (Dan) Yea, and you start to see some of the things where cattle can freeze some of their hair coat to the ground and then just trying, the energy it takes to get to the bunk, and so cleaning those pens and cleaning those aprons, imperative. (Chris) Cattle with dry hair they’re not really even chilly until down in the 50s. You wet cattle’s hair coat and they start getting cold in the 60s and even 70s. (Dan) Well, I do. (Chris) Yea. (Dan) I mean you start to think about that, and what are some of the things that we can do with these pen conditions? Some of the things management wise? Obviously there’s the emergency of when you have a storm to just push it to the back of the pen to give the calves a dry place to lay down and then haul it out later or redistribute it. But what are some other things we can do management wise? (Chris) As you mentioned before Doc, it’s all about preparation. We’ve got to go into the winter season knowing number one, it’s going to get cold. And number two, we’re probably going to get some precip. So, we’ve got to build up those mounds, be ready for when it does rain, or get that freezing rain, or an ice storm or snow, so that cattle have a relatively warm, dry place to lay down. (Dan) So, building mounds, bedding, different things to that can be advantageous. (Chris) Bedding is absolutely tremendous. One thing we forget about mounds, living in Kansas, we’re known to get a little wind and cattle will actually use the side of the mound opposite the wind as sort of a wind break. (Dan) Absolutely. And so that’s the other thing, is to make those mounds big enough so that everybody can get on it. Because the ones that don’t get on the mound are probably the ones that need it the most, the smaller calves, the weaker calves. And they’re the ones that get pushed out of the bunk, they get pushed off the mound, and so if you’re going to build one, make sure you build it big enough, just like you would prepare for bunk space with mound space. What about wind breaks? (Chris) Wind breaks from where we live north I think are a really important part of winter management and preparation. One thing about wind breaks is you want to make sure there’s a break in the wind breaks, and allow wind to flow through ’em, but break up the wind to where for the reason for that is that if you’ve got a continuous windbreak, it’s gonna do nothing but be a really good snow accumulator. (Dan) Cool. (Chris) And so having some gaps in the wind break, allowing the snow to move out, are really giving the cattle some protection from that cold north wind. (Dan) Perfect. We’re gonna take a break. When we come back, more on cold stress and beef cattle with Dr. Chris Reinhardt. Thanks for watching.

(Dan) Folks, welcome back to DocTalk, Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Chris Reinhardt. We’re at Kansas State University. We’re glad you joined us today. We’re talking about cold stress and it’s always enjoyable for me to spend some time with Dr. Reinhardt, not only to talk about cows, but every once in a while we do a little hunting and fishing as well. So, if you have any deer eradication problems out there, give us call we’ll come help. But anyway, when we’re talking about wind protection, we’re talking about one of the questions we get is how tall do I build this wind break? (Chris) Well, the key to remember is regardless of how tall the windbreak is, the wind will be broken in essence five to ten times the height of the wind break. (Dan) OK. So if I build a windbreak ten foot tall, I’m going to provide relief from the wind, then… (Chris) Basically up to 100 feet out. (Dan) Fifty to 100 feet out. And so, that’s kind of your gauge of how far you’re going to provide wind breaks within these. So, if you build it 20, 30 feet then you’re talking 150 to 300 foot of relief. (Chris) Exactly. And the other half of that is to remember snow is going to accumulate on the leeward, the non-windward side of that protection. And so we want to prepare for that too. Because in the spring that means more mud. (Dan) And these types of windbreaks would be important to understand for your cows as well. If you’ve got cows out on the range you’re gonna build a windbreak that’s big enough for everybody, you’re gonna have to get it big enough to cover the surface area, not only the width but the depth of the breaking of the wind. So, one thing that we talked about in the break that you reminded me of, if you’re some place where it gets hot and humid, what about the windbreaks then? (Chris) Wind breaks are great in the winter, December, January, particularly here in Kansas. Come July and August they can mean real problems for feedlot cattle. (Dan) Yea, we want wind. We want wind. And those mounds will actually, cattle can get up on the mound, they serve a dual purpose cause they can get up and catch a breeze in the summer, but the windbreaks, you’ve gotta remove ’em. (Chris) Exactly, so if you’re living in North Dakota, year around wind protection is fine. But if you’re in even south central Nebraska, on south we’ve got to have removable wind breaks. (Dan) Absolutely. Well let’s move on. I’m gonna change gears with you here. Let’s move on to talking about cows. And talking about cold stress in the mature cow. So when do cows start to get cold? (Chris) A cow with a really good winter hair coat who is dry, especially northern bred cattle, they’re comfortable down to freezing point. (Dan) OK. And heavy wind coats, probably even comfortable lower than that. (Chris) Yep. And so, really when we’re looking at cattle in different areas of the world, if we have a cold snap in the south and they don’t have a hair coat, even as you mentioned 50, 60 degrees those cattle can start to feel, hit their lower, critical temperature or when they’re starting to get cold stressed. (Chris) Exactly. And that’s where a career stockman is able to read the cattle. And know what your cattle are prepared for. (Dan) Right. And so depending on hair coat, we can have different levels of when those animals are starting to have cold stress or start to go below their lower, critical temperature. (Chris) Right. (Dan) Alright. Well, we’re gonna take a break. When we come back, we’re gonna wrap up this discussion on cold stress. We’ll finish up talking about cows, how to feed the cows during cold stress. Thanks for joining us on DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson, here with Dr. Chris Reinhardt and we’ll see you after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Chris Reinhardt. We’re at Kansas State University where we work in the Department of Animal Science and Industry at the College of Veterinary Medicine. And when we look at lower critical temperature, and that’s the temperature in which cows start to experience cold stress, depending on the hair coat, is really where that lower critical temperature, and I had here a chart that shows if they have their slick summer coat, 59 degrees Fahrenheit is the lower critical temperature. If they have a fall hair coat, then we’re talking 45 degrees and then as the hair coat gets heavier, winter hair coat the 32 degrees Fahrenheit is the lower, critical temperature and then deep into winter northern cattle, heavy hair coat in the winter, they can go down to 18 degrees and that would be their lower, critical temperature. So, once you start to drop below that, then you start to have issues with cold stress. (Chris) Exactly. (Dan) So, nutritionally then how do we, what’s some rules of thumb or what are some things that we can do nutritionally, or what’s going on with that animal that we need to be knowing about? (Chris) To keep it simple, for every one degree below what Doc just mentioned as that lower critical temperature, for every one degree below that the energy required just to turn the lights on and keep the furnace burning goes up by one percent. So, it’s a one to one relationship. (Dan) So, if we decrease the if it’s cattle with just a normal winter hair coat, and we go to 30 degrees or let’s just say we have a 22 degree day, now we’re 10 degrees below their lower, critical temp. We have to increase that energy or she has to eat more to match that 10 percent increase in energy. (Chris) The challenge when we get into these cold snaps is that cows will lose body condition to meet that added demand for energy and we won’t see it for a period of weeks or months and then all of a sudden we wake up one day and cows are thin. And now we’re in a hurry to try to get body condition back on those cows. And so the value of knowing these numbers is when we get a cold snap down in the 20s or teens or below, we know going in we’ve got to increase the energy available to those cows. And I think it’s important to understand that we’re starting to hit that third trimester of pregnancy a lot of times in these cows. So, they have demand on that gravid uterus and that fetal development. Or if they’re a fall calver, now they’ve got cows that are lactating that are trying to keep that calf rolling during these cold months. And so not only do you have the demand of the physiology, but now we’ve got the demand of this as well. (Chris) Lactation is a huge energy demand. And to add severe cold stress on top of that, something’s gonna give. (Dan) Yea, absolutely. Well I think that when we start to think about this it’s something that’s a critical management decision. Work with your local veterinarian, work with a nutritionist like Dr. Reinhardt. Thanks for watching DocTalk. Remember, always work with your local veterinarian and if you want to find us on the web you can find us at www.doctalktv.com. Thanks for watching DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson and I’ll see you down the road.

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