December 22, 2014

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome to Doc Talk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson and I’m glad that you joined us today. It’s going to be a great show because calving season is upon us. Things are gonna be happening with cows having calves, heifers having calves and we need to know how to take care of those babies on Day One. Today Dr. Dave Rethorst joins me and we’re gonna talk about Day One Calf Care. Stay tuned.

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(Dan) Dr. Dave, welcome to the show. (Dave) Good to be here. (Dan) Well folks this is Dr. Dave Rethorst, he’s the Director of Outreach for the Beef Cattle Institute. He’s got 35 years, plus… (Dave) Plus. (Dan) …of experience in cow/calf practice in south central Nebraska, all across Kansas and has been one of those national leaders on the cow/calf front. And we’re gonna talk about getting these calves up and going and Day One. And Dr. Dave you said some thing to me before we started shooting that I thought was kind of interesting. You said, you know we’re going to start on Day One, preparing these calves for weaning. (Dave) Absolutely. (Dan) Well, we’re not going to wean these calves until 200 and some days on feed. What do you mean by that? (Dave) Well we actually started preparing these calves for weaning at the moment of conception, because we’ve managed the nutrition on this Mama cow all through pregnancy, we’ve done the energy right, the protein right, the trace minerals right. And now we’ve got this little booger on the ground. So, now it’s time to take the next step. Because what we’re after is low stress weaning so we can reduce the amount of respiratory disease we see at weaning time and we can reduce the antibiotics that we’re using and we can keep our consumer happy. (Dan) There we go. And we keep that calf healthy. (Dave) Absolutely. (Dan) So, let’s start out first things first, colostrum. When you know, something that is vitally important to calf care. How soon do we have to have colostrum in? What do you recommend to producers watch on colostrum and that with the heifers and calf? (Dave) I like to see colostrum intake in the first six hours if they’re getting up and nursing on their own. Anytime you pull a calf, that calf’s already stressed, that gut’s gonna shut down sooner. So, if you pull a calf go ahead and milk that heifer out, milk that cow out, get at least a quart of colostrum, right there as soon as you pull it. And we think about colostrum as being antibodies and yes, we’re concerned about antibodies for our E. coli and for viruses. But colostrum is also an energy source. It’s real high fat content so it’s an energy source for that calf for the first few days. So then, that goes back, well if that cow’s in a 5 1/2 or a 6 body condition score, we’ve got plenty of fat in that colostrum. Gets that little rascal warmed up a little quicker. (Dan) Yes. And energy, protein. Great protein source. I think that people don’t understand how much the protein level and energy level diminish in the subsequent… even the second and third milkings compared to that first one. (Dave) Oh, absolutely. The antibodies drop off, the protein drops off, fat drops off. That first milk is vitally important. (Dan) And if we’re gonna grab some colostrum, say a cow loses a calf, or a heifer, we definitely want to go with a cow colostrum versus a heifer. (Dave) Absolutely. Because that cow’s been exposed to more in her lifetime. So, she’s going to have a few more strains of antibodies in there. (Dan) And she’s been around the farm. We’re gonna take a break folks. When we come back we’re gonna start talking about handling that calf, castrating, disbudding. Lots of things to come here with Dr. Dave Rethorst.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to Doc Talk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Dave Rethorst and we are from the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University. And we’re having a great day today talking about Day One Calf Care. We got the colostrum in their belly and we’re getting them warmed up. Let’s talk about handling that calf. What are some of the things we want to do Day One when we handle the baby calves? (Dave) Well I heard Dr. Kip Lukasavage talk Saturday out in Dodge, about handling these and if we’ve got to chase these calves down with a four wheeler when we’re tagging ’em or if we put a band on them or something like this, we’re training that calf and if we chase them down with a four wheeler we’re training that calf that that’s how we’re gonna handle him all his life. And so we need to learn how to handle these calves quietly, handle Mama quietly, again working on that low stress handling, so when we get ready to wean ’em they don’t take off for the far end of the pasture or bounce off the fence across the way in the pen.(Dan) It’s really, you’re setting the tone for the… it’s kind of like kick-off in a football game. You’re setting the tone for the whole game in that first time that you meet that baby calf. (Dave) That’s absolutely correct. (Dan) Now, the one other thing you have to be careful about is maybe now chasing the cow or the calf, but maybe the cow chasing you. (Dave) Well yea. But if we kinda work with these cows a little bit and they figure out that… take our time. You know sometimes you have to… Bud Williams used to say you’ve got to stop and roll a smoke once and a while. Might take you a little longer than you have on plan, but let the cow know what you’re doing and most of the times you can get up to them without them eating your lunch. (Dan) It’s kind of like a lot of things that as you gain wisdom, I don’t want to say as we get old, but as you gain wisdom, taking a little more time… (Dave) Absolutely. (Dan) … and rolling a smoke and doing it right. (Dave) Yep. (Dan) You know you always wondered how the old timers had those horses that were so broke and the dogs that were so well trained, and the cattle that moved through the facilities, it’s because they took their time and did it right. (Dave) They were patient. (Dan) And I think that patience and kindness and thinking of the long term outcome rather than the short term gain, is important. (Dave) Right. Absolutely. If you got a basketball game you have to be to in 15 minutes, let the calf go til morning to tag him. (Dan) Yea. Well you know me, I have a few of those to go to. (Dave) Yes, sir. (Dan) Alright, let’s jump into here. We’ve got about a minute before the break. Let’s jump into castration quick. And just briefly discuss what you’re wanting to do with castration. (Dave) You know we’ve got to get these calves castrated sooner, you know. Castrating a 500 pound calf at weaning or an 800 pound yearling just does not make sense in this day and age. If we can do it at birth with a little green donut, that’s great. We can slip that on there as we’re tagging that calf. We don’t have to worry about lidocaine or meloxicam or anything else, let’s just get it done and we’re in good shape. Another stress associated with weaning that goes away when we do that. (Dan) And I just read a paper that shows that we don’t lose performance in those calves. When we come back from the break, we’re gonna talk a little bit more about castration, we’re going to lean into disbudding and talk about some of the vaccinations that maybe you’re going to do on Day One. You’re watching Doc Talk. More after the break.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to Doc Talk. Dr. Dan and Dr. Dave from the Beef Cattle Institute, talking about Day One Calf Care. So the calf has hit the ground, we handled it appropriately, we didn’t chase it down, we took our time, had our patience, got colostrum in it, made sure it got good colostrum intake in the first six hours. Castration, do it when they’re babies. (Dave) Absolutely. (Dan) Elastrator band. Make sure you get both testicles. (Dave) Yea, if you’re gonna use an elastrator band make sure you get those testicles. If you use a knife, that’s acceptable at that stage too and you know you get both testicles then. (Dan) So castrate ’em when they’re young and again as I said leaving the break I’ve seen some research recently looking at castrating baby calves versus castrating them at weaning, and when you look at throughout the weaning process there is no difference in the body weight of those calves. So one of the things that producers worry about is losing performance. Actually, you have equal performance because of decreased stress. (Dave) Right. (Dan) OK, let’s talk about disbudding. I don’t want to use the term dehorning. (Dave) OK. (Dan) Because I think once the horn is attached to the skull unless we’re doing it for some reason, in a commercial calf operation I don’t see any reason to take those horns off. (Dave) Right. Let’s just get the buds off of there before they’re attached to the skull. (Dan) What is a bud? (Dave) A bud is what turns into the horn. It’s about the size of a quarter and it’s hornified tissue. But it hasn’t attached to the skull. It’s still in the skin. (Dan) So, it’s still, as long as it’s still moveable, that’s a bud. (Dave) That’s a bud. And you can have some of those the buds that are a quarter to three-eights of an inch long and they’re still gonna be loose on the skull. (Dan) I think the other thing that people don’t get is that over 50 percent of dairy cows are born with horns, or buds. (Dave) Right. (Dan) We just don’t ever know it or don’t seem ’em in the parlor because they disbud all those baby calves on dairies on Day One. (Dave) Or very, very… you know for sure, week one. (Dan) How are the ways that you disbud? (Dave) You can disbud with paste, rough that bud up a little bit with a knife or something, put some paste on there and it’s a chemical cauterization. We can use a hot iron disbudding you know when the calves are a little older, like on typical grass turn out time on these beef calves, we can use a hot iron of some kind and burn that bud. (Dan) I’ve seen that- the little butane disbudders that you can carry in the glove box of the pickup. (Dave) Yep. (Dan) And a lot of dairymen using those, and can grab that calf you’re putting the tag in, the elastrator on there, and disbud them and you’re done. (Dave) And you’re done. (Dan) And the stress is nothing compared to… (Dave) You do that, they’re gonna go over and nurse Mom. They’re going to walk over a few feet, lay down and take a nap and by the time they wake up from their nap, they’re great. (Dan) It’s great for welfare, great for everything that we’re doing. When we come back from the break more with Dr. Dave Rethorst, we’re gonna talk about Day One Calf Care.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to Doc Talk, Dr. Dan and Dr. Dave from the BCI at Kansas State University’s College of Vet Med. We’re talking about Day One calf care. And let’s get to the last two, we have navel… (Dave) OK. (Dan) …care and black leg or vaccinations. So, with the navels, what are you telling producers? (Dave) You know if it’s a… “it depends” situation. If you’re out in native grass pasture and calving out there I don’t see any need to dip navels. But if you’re calving heifers in a dry lot and there’s a lot of manure around and things like that, probably best to dip the navels and use strong iodine to dip those, don’t use the tainting stuff. (Dan) Because navel ill is E. coli. And if you’re having a dry lot and the contact with the E. coli or the fecal matter in those dry lots with the navel, you can get that wick in and get an infection there. And then folks, that goes systemic and you get the joint ill and just like you do in poles. (Dave) Right. And the other thing that plays into the navel ill management goes back to colostrum intake. If you’re got good colostrum in those calves, you help reduce the need to iodine those navels. (Dan) Yep. Alright, black legs, or vaccination on Day One. Is that something that we do right off the bat, or do we wait til turnout, or what do you think? (Dave) That’s another “it depends,” Dan. (Dan) OK. Yep. (Dave) You know, in a lot of these real high growth calves that we see anymore where we’re feeding the cows well you know, we get out four to six weeks old and we’ll start seeing what we call the enterotoxemia calves. That the biggest, best doing calf will all of a sudden puff up and you’ll find him dead in a couple hours. We get colostridiums out of those when we take them to the D lab. Some people think that you know, given a seven way black leg at birth helps on that. (Dan) Jury still out? (Dave) Jury is still out. I really think that the type A perfringens probably has more to do with it than the C and D. (Dan) So, when we get so the real thing is on the black leg, is make sure we get it in there before the calves start nibbling on grass and grazing in those hot spot pastures. (Dave) Right, yep. The big thing is make sure that spring branding that you’re getting a good seven way black leg in them then. We’re also probably putting a modified live viral in ’em then to start dealing with respiratory disease. But we sure wanna get a black leg in them before they go to summer pasture. (Dan) Cool. So cattle handling, key, colostridium, maybe not so key, but make sure we get it at the time of branding. (Dave) It all goes back to basic animal husbandry practices and good management. We don’t have to manage through a needle. (Dan) Cool. Thanks for being here. (Dave) Absolutely good to be here. (Dan) Folks, thanks for watching Doc Talk Be sure to work with your local veterinarian. And if you want to know more about what Dr. Dave and I do here at K-State, you can find us on the web at I’m Dr. Dan Thomson from Doc Talk. You’ve been watching us today. Thanks for joining us and I’ll see you down the road.

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