(Dr. Dan Thomson) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk. We are going to have a great show today. I’m glad you’ve joined us. We are going to have Dr. KC Olson who is a ruminant nutritionist and a professor in the Department of Animal Science. We’re going to talk about some things whether it’s making sure that your cows have body condition score, some of the things that if you’re going to have a consultant come to your farm or ranch this time of the year, what would they be looking for and what would they be talking to you about. Thanks for watching the show.
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(Dr. Dan) Hey, welcome to the show, Dr. Olson. (Dr. KC Olson) Thank you, Dan. (Dr. Dan) Folks, this is Dr. KC Olson. He’s a friend and colleague here at Kansas State University. He’s over in the Animal Science Department where he serves as the WM and FA Lewis Chair of Range Beef Cattle Nutrition. Dr. Olson is one of those that is known, not only nationally but internationally for his knowledge in range beef cattle nutrition. And probably the thing that amazes me the most is how humble, hard working he is and how down-to-earth he is, for all the papers and stuff that you have written. (Dr. KC) Goodness. That’s high praise. I don’t deserve it folks. (Dr. Dan) He does. But anyway, we’ve talked about a nutritional consult and as we talked off-camera and in planning the show, not everybody can afford someone to come out. (Dr. KC) No. Our average commercial cowherd here in the state of Kansas is less than 100 cows. Even our bigger operations are certainly less than 400. With that kind of a cash-flow picture, it’s very difficult to afford professional advice on a regular basis. We can all always rely on our local veterinary practitioners and our extension specialist but having an individual on retainer is probably cost prohibitive for most of us. (Dr. Dan) We decided, hey, Dr. Olson can, with a few hundred thousand people watching; we could just take the consultant to you. I asked Dr. Olson what are some of the things that you would look at if you were coming in to do a nutritional consult this time of year to somebody’s herd. What are some things that you would be looking at or be talking to your producers about? (Dr. KC) Sure. Specific for this time of year, our spring calving producers are just entering late gestation, most of them, and there’s an additional level of nutritional stress on those cows. For our fall calving producers, those cows would be about mid lactation right now. There’s a similar level of nutritional stress on those cattle. First thing I’m going to ask to do is see the cows and walk through. I’m going to be looking for body condition. Evaluating body condition visually is always a little risky, but you can tell pretty closely walking through a set of cows, how many of them looked to be in adequate condition and how many look like they could need a few extra groceries. I had the privilege, this fall of two hours of windshield time with Burke Teichert, one of the greatest ranch managers of all time. He was telling me a story about one of his former employees. The first thing he said about this employee is that his cows perform best than of all the individual foremen on the ranch that he was managing at the time. He said that that group of cows had the lowest supplementation bill. I said, “Well, Burke, how do you pull that off?” and he said, “Well, he looked at his cows at least every other day and when the time came for those cows to need just a little bit extra, he would reach into that cake box and you could get a little extra.” Sort of put and take scenario of supplementation. When they look like they were hungry, they got more feed and when they didn’t look like they were hungry; they got a little bit less. Pretty good philosophy. (Dr. Dan) Kind of like maybe what I should do, look in the mirror and back off, push away from the dinner table a little quick. (Dr. KC) My condition is looking extra good today. How we do about that? (Dr. Dan) I think it gets back to just don’t overlook the obvious. You’re with your cows every day and there are some things that we can be reading. (Dr. KC) There’s no substitute for time spent with those cows and put an eyes on. (Dr. Dan) Well, let’s take a break. When we come back from the break, we’re going to talk about some things, folks, such as mineral intake, some of the things that you can do to get ready for your calving season coming up and much more. We’re having fun here with Dr. KC Olson, more DocTalk after these messages.
(Dr. Dan): Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. KC Olson, who is a Range Cattle Nutritionist. He’s a professor and matter of fact, the WM and FA Lewis Chair, Range Cattle Production Nutrition at Department of Animal Sciences here at Kansas State University. KC, we talked about body condition score. You said you’ve gotten some pretty interesting questions or comments about mineral intake this year. (Dr. KC) I have and we have this idea in the cow management world that we have to have minerals in front of cows every day all the time. We worry constantly about intake not being adequate or intake being excessive. It’s usually one or the other and that is unfortunately, part and parcel of any kind of feedstuff that we rely on the animal to select for itself. Good rule of thumb here folks, mineral palatability is usually to blame when we have under-consumption issues. If you do have an under-consumption situation, make sure that any loose salt or any white salt, plain white salt that you have out there for the cow that gets picked up so that the only salt source is that mineral. Now that will generally cure under-consumption. Over-consumption is something that we worry about. People worry about just as much. Here are the facts, if cattle consume a two-week supply of mineral at $800 a ton in two days, don’t bring anymore for two weeks. Minerals, sediments and fluids and tissues of the body and it takes weeks and months not days to manifest any deficiency. In the situation where your cattle might be over-consuming mineral, keep track of how much goes out there at any one time. Allow for the number of cattle in the group consumption at about a quarter a pound per day. Then figure out how many days should pass before you have to go out there and put more mineral in the feeder. Don’t go back before that time is up, that’ll cure your over-consumption problems. (Dr. Dan) And that’ll probably help you with cow costs and yet still get adequate mineral. That’s why I think a lot of people, when I was talking to the class the other day about, it take 90 days to get hypervitaminosis A clinical signs. You can have decreases in performance but very rarely are we getting into things where we’re really deficient if we’re putting it out there. (Dr. KC) Like I said, all those minerals, all those vitamins that we’re concerned about, it takes time to manifest the deficiency. The important thing is just to manage that intake of mineral supplements. (Dr. Dan) When you’re looking at these mineral supplementations, what are some of your rules of thumb or some of the, what are the most important minerals for you as a ruminant nutritionist? (Dr. KC) As what would have it, I just talked to my mineral man on the phone earlier today and ordered some. A couple of things, if I’m feeding a by-product protein supplement like distiller granule corn gluten feed, there’s firm likelihood that most of the phosphorus can come out of my supplement of mineral cheapen the cost a great deal. Another thing, at this particular time of the year for the spring calving herd, the cow is sequestering some pretty important trace minerals; copper, selenium, zinc, in that fetus. Right now her overall body status is going to look pretty good if her nutrition is adequate, but as soon as that calf hits the ground, her body stores are going to drop off to very low levels or very low for the year. Making sure we’re on top of intake right now is particularly critical. (Dr. Dan) Well, folks, we’re going to take another break. Thanks for watching DocTalk today. It’s great to have Dr. Olson here. We’re talking about nutrition for your cowherd. We’re going to come back. We’re going to talk about some of the things that you can do to prepare for calving season and those spring calvers. Thanks for watching.
(Dr. Dan) Hey, folks welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. KC Olson. Dr. Olson is the WM and FA Lewis Chair in Range Beef Cattle Nutrition and he does a lot of work; he has his own research facility here, a living laboratory. You do a lot of work with outside herds and things to that nature as well. As we start to get ready for calving season, you said there was few things that maybe we ought to go through and start walking down the list on this springs calvers. (Dr. KC) Sure. One of the things I tell my students is the first calf that hits the ground should never surprise you. Look at your calendar, that first calf is going to hit the ground somewhere in the neighborhood of 282 days after bull exposure began the previous year. Don’t forget those cows can come a little early sometimes. (Dr. Dan) Well, what if my bull is in there all year? (Dr. KC) Well, I can’t really help you with that but I do know that gestation can vary plus or minus 19 days. (Dr. Dan) There we go. (Dr. KC) All the tools that you need to assist dams bringing the calf into the world and all the tools you need support health on a neonate, get them gathered together now. Make sure your calving equipment is in good working order, free of rust. Make sure you’ve got disinfectant needles. A possibility, God forbid, of frozen colostrum or artificial colostrum. Make sure you have all that stuff in one place so you don’t have hunt up when you have a crisis. (Dr. Dan) Yes and I’m an organizational freak when it comes to that time of the year and that because I don’t have good enough memory to go look at different places. I’ve built wooden calf grips to carry my stuff in and keep it together and keep it organized. But tools, colostrum, anything else as far as managing that cow. What about facilities? (Dr. KC) That’s a very good point. The time to prepare your calving pastures, as you prepare your calving facilities, is now and not a month from now when those babies are hitting the ground. It’s a little appreciated fact that the best thing we can do to support neonate health doesn’t involve scours vaccination. It involves getting that dam and that calf in a clean environment to come into the world. You’ve all heard of the Sandhills calving system. I don’t believe they invented it but they got to name it. What that involves is moving pregnant cows away from lactating cows at about two or three-week intervals during the calving season. When we can get neonates separated from newborns at about a two-week birthday span, we break the cycle of transmission of scours. I’ve used that kind of a calving system for 10 years and in that whole time I’ve treated two cases of scours with supported therapy. (Dr. Dan) Yes and I think that the management of colostrum, clean calving environment and then managing biosecurity through the rotational pastures or that. So many times we’ve done the opposite. We kicked the cow with the calf out into the new pasture and leave the others up close because of convenience or whatever. (Dr. KC) Yes and I personally believe that that’s a mistake. We tend to think that our ability to get to a pregnant cow and help her with delivery is more important than she being in a clean environment with lots of air and space and experiences tell me that’s just not true. Convenient access is less important than that little umbrella of isolation, clean place for that cow that’s about to give birth. (Dr. Dan) Remember after the water breaks, 30 minutes you need to investigate on a cow, 60 minutes on a heifer. More after this break with Dr. KC Olson.
(Dr. Dan) Hey folks welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thompson here with Dr. KC Olson who is a professor in the Department of Animal Science where he serves as the WM and FA Lewis Chair of Range Beef Cattle Nutrition. It’s great to have you on the show. We’ve talked about the spring calvers and we would hate to discriminate and not include the fall calvers. (Dr. KC) No we can’t do that. The last couple of years when cow/calf prices, especially the in the fall have been so poor I think that’s prompted many of our producers in Kansas to get interested in fall calving and convert some of those reproductive failures from the spring herd to the summer — to the fall rather. We’ve got nutritional challenges obviously at this time of the year for that fall calving herd, some of the same issues: mineral intake, body condition score management are still relevant. But one of the things that if you don’t have a lot of experience in spring calving is thinking about where that — where those fall born calves are going to go from here. If you’re like me, marketing that fall born calf is a new thing. One of the things that have been a real strength of the fall calving producers in Kansas over the last decade is selling that calf into a grass fever market as it’s called. Lots and lots of people are looking for that healthy, locally raised calf to put into a summer grazing system. Two things I’ll say about that. The cost structure for fall calving herd tends to be a little higher than it is for spring calving herd because you’re having to feed that cow, support that cow through the winter months with nutrition. However, the revenue side of the equation is almost always in favor of the fall calving herd because you get to sell into a much more favorable calf market in the months of March, April, and May. Have a plan for what to do with that fall born calf. One of the things that I would really suggest to if you’re new to the fall calving game, is think about your operation and whether or not there is a place to allow that calf to grow on forages that it can go out and harvest for himself or herself for a potential sale in the months of August or September. Historically, our yearling calf market has been really strong at that time of the year and adding another 200 to 300 pounds to that calf that’s born in the fall, weaned in the spring and then grazed in a retained ownership position through the summer can be a tremendous and easy new source of cash flow. (Dr. Dan) Yes and also in that if you have available for that grass time, you’re going to have two different sets of people bidding on it; feedlots and people with grass. Being from the feedlot world we were always struggling during that time of year because people would be able to bid them up because they don’t have the freight in them. (Dr. KC) Sure. Yes, local calves have tremendous advantages, with respect to freight. One of the reasons, speaking about the late summer marketing window for that yearling, any feeder that’s looking at that critter is going to be thinking about that April harvest window, April, May harvest window for that calf as a finished beast. (Dr. Dan) Well, thanks again. I appreciate having Dr. Olson on here. I appreciate you watching DocTalk. Remember, always work with your local veterinarian. If you want to know more about what we do on Doc Talk, you can find us on the web at www.doctalktv.com. Thanks for watching today folks. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson and I’ll see you down the road.
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