October 06, 2014

(Dr. Dan) Hi there, folks. Welcome to DocTalk. Man, I’m glad that you joined us today. We have Dr. Dave Rethorst here from Kansas State University and we’re gonna talk about what to do with those open cows and cows that are non-pregnant. It’s bound to be a great show. Dr. Dave’s always a great guest to have on the show. Thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you here in a minute.

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(Dr. Dan) Welcome to the show. (Male) Good to be here, Dan. (Dr. Dan) Good to have you here, Dr. Dave. Folks, this is Dr. Dave Rethorst and he is a faculty member at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine where he works at the Beef Cattle Institute and he is the Director of Outreach and has had a little bit of experience on pregnancy testing cows and sleeving cows in his, how many years? (Male) Thirty-five years. (Dr. Dan) Thirty-five years of bovine practice, so somebody that has a lot of experience, has a lot of practical field experience and we’re gonna talk about pregging. So let’s just start out with it, Dave, you know, why do we preg check? (Male) Well, Dan, you’ve got to go back and remember that marketing of our cull cows can account for fifteen, sometimes twenty percent of the cash income for a cow herd in a year’s time, so we need to make sure that we get those cows identified early and get them marketed where they produce the most income for the ranch. (Dr. Dan) You bet, and, so, does the earlier detection or later detection, you know, what are some of the reasons or economics behind getting that earlier detection? (Male) Well historically, our cull cow market is good in September and October and then when everybody starts weaning, you know, the October, November, December when the corn picking is done and everything else, we get a glut of cull cows on the market and the bottom drops out of the market. So if we can get the cows identified early and get them marketed before we hit that November, December time-frame, we’re better off as far as cash income. (Dr. Dan) How early, you know, we put the bulls in in the summer and we take the bulls our or we A.I., how soon are you talking about, what’s early diagnosis? (Male) Well, you know, in heifers, particularly, we can go down, with the use of ultrasound, we can go down to thirty days after we pull the bull out and detect those pregnancies which is great on the yearling heifers because then we can get them marketed and get them into a feedlot and we can still have carcasses that will grade along with the steers because they’re young enough. (Dr. Dan) Yup. So that’s something important on the heifers, just putting then in the normal cattle feeding situation and offer we go, if they’re not bred. (Male) If they’re not bred. You know if a person doesn’t have ultrasound, you know, typically we can start thirty-five, forty days after the bull’s out, you know, sixty fits a lot of people’s time schedule. (Dr. Dan) So waiting a couple of months and doing that. (Male) Right. (Dr. Dan) Well it’s a great start to the show. Great topic and one that’s pretty timely, one that you have a lot of experience with and one, I’m sure, a lot of our viewers do as well. We’re gonna come with Dr. Dave Rethorst after the break, talk a little bit more about what you do with those open cows. You’re watching DocTalk. See you in a minute.

(Dr. Dan) Folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson and Dr. Dave Rethorst from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University and we’re having a great discussion this morning about open cows and what to do with them, but let’s talk a little bit about why they happen. (Male) Well several reasons. Most common reason would be nutrition, that the cows aren’t in good enough shape going into breeding season. You know we need to have these cows in a five to five and a half condition score going into breeding season and if we drop below that at the beginning of breeding season, just looking back at records, if you have a four, there’s about five percent more of those open and then if they’re a five, it just goes right on down the line. (Dr. Dan) So getting good and I think it’s important to note that the cover and the fat, you know, helps drives normal physiology. (Male) Right. (Dr. Dan) and regardless of the species, so having them in that good condition score, drought situations, not weaning the calves on time, different things to that nature can all play a role. (Male) All play a role. (Dr. Dan) Okay, so there’s some management. Age of the cow have anything to do with it? (Male) Age of the cow will have something to do with it. Historically, our two year old cows that are just weaning their first calf are our biggest problem getting them bred back just because they’re young. They’re still growing, trying to get enough nutrition in them where they’ll milk that calf and breed back is tough to do. If we can get those bred back, we’ll have a little bit of a fall out as three year olds, but then when we start getting into that nine and ten year old cow, our pregnancy rates start dropping off again. (Dr. Dan) Sure and, you know, and then the one that we probably you know the first two are management and understanding that those heifers are still growing even though they have a calf and that we’ve got to get the right amount of groceries in them, but then this last one, disease, biosecurity, what are some of the diseases that you vaccinate for or you think about when you think about open cows? (Male) Well, you know, historically, everybody vaccinates Vibrio and Lepto. (Dr. Dan) Right. (Male) In thirty-five years of practice, I never diagnosed a case of Vibrio, so I really question sometimes if we need to, although, it’s an accepted practice, so that’s fine, but I think more important than the Vibrio is BVD. BVD can cause open cows. It can cause weak calves and persistently infected calves cause sick calves in the feed yard, so BVD is important. The other big one that I never thought I’d see in the state of Kansas when I graduated from veterinary school was trichomoniasis. We thought it was a mountain disease, a cooperative grazing situation disease, but the last few years, we’ve seen it in Kansas and Nebraska and I’ve seen eight herds in the last four years, but it’s a biosecurity issue. You need to watch what you’re doing. (Dr. Dan) Excellent. Well beside from all those, making sure your bull’s are fertile. (Male) Making sure the bull’s fertile. (Dr. Dan) That’s right. Folks, this is a great discussion. We’ve talked about when to preg. We’ve talked about what causes some of these open cows. When we come back, we’ll talk about the disposition and things that you can do on marketing these open cows. You’re watching DocTalk. We’ll be back in a minute.

(Dr. Dan) Hey there, folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson and I’m joined here by my friend and colleague at the Beef Cattle Institute, Dr. Dave Rethorst who is a private practitioner in south-central Nebraska for thirty-five years. He practices in Kansas and Nebraska currently and we’re tickled to death to have him on the show and we’re talking about a topic, twenty percent of the revenue of our cow-calf operation (Male) Cow-calf operations, fifteen to twenty percent of the profits… (Dr. Dan) Come from culled cows. (Male) come from culled cows, so we’ve got to get it done right. (Dr. Dan) Yup. So how we market those cows can be important. (Male) Right, right and as we talked on earlier, getting the yearling heifer preg checked early, getting them in the feedlot, were maximizing the income off of that heifer by doing that. If we can get the cows preg checked early and get them on that September, October market, that’s still a pretty decent market. We’re in good shape as far as dollars per pound of cow. Now if we get into November, December that we talked about how the bottom falls out of that market because of the glut of cows on the market and a lot of people will delay marketing those cows they identify in November, December until we get into January, February, which is typically the highest time of the year as far as cull cow market. The thing we’ve got to watch there is that, you know, if those cows are in a five and a half to six condition score in November, December, my philosophy is you ought to go ahead and market the November, December because they aren’t gonna get any better condition score than that, so let’s we’re gonna end up with more net dollars that way than if we hold them until January or February and they lose a hundred pounds. We might get more per hundred weight, but we’re getting less total dollars, so we need to take a good look. (Dr. Dan) Well, and those cows that have the more body condition on them are not gonna be as efficient if you put them on grain or something like that. They’re gonna feed at a nine or ten feed efficiency verses these thinner cows that will come in, feed at a five, six, maybe a six. (Male) But it goes back, if you’re gonna feed cows before you sell them, they need to be thin cows and you get the most efficient gain. (Dr. Dan) Yup and part of the reason why people feed cows is that white fat market and what we mean by white fat is cows that have been on grass have more of a yellow tint from the beta keratin in the fat and when we put them on a grain diet, it bleaches that fat or turns it to white. (Male) Right. (Dr. Dan) So, you know, other options of corn prices probably play a little role in this too, eight dollar corn in culled cows. (Male) Not a good deal. (Dr. Dan) But corn, unfortunately, fortunate for the cattle feeder, unfortunate for the corn producer, we’re gonna see a reverse in that. (Male) Right, right. We are seeing that and I think it’s probably gonna go lower from what I’ve been reading. (Dr. Dan) Yeah, yeah, but I think that understanding your corn price, understanding your input cost, understanding what you potentially could gain in an animal that’s already in good body condition score verses one that’s thin. All things are factors you need to roll into before you’re gonna delay marketing them or putting them in that white fat market. (Male) Right. Run a pencil on it, do a partial budget, figure out what’s best, gets you the most net dollars. (Dr. Dan) Great. When we come back, we’ll wrap up on cull cows and selling open cows with Dr. Dave Rethorst.

Dr. Dan) Hey, folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Dave Rethorst. We both work at the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University. We’ve been talking about what to do with those open cows and we’ve talked about when to preg, which cows and heifers are gonna be more of the trouble. We’ve talked about some of the reasons why we have animals that are open and then we’ve talked about marketing those cull cows or open cows and, you know, in this day in age of animal welfare practices and hidden cameras and let’s throw all that aside, let’s talk about doing the right thing and I always talk to people about if you’re gonna market an animal, it should be something you’d be proud enough to put your picture on there with him or her on the front page of the paper. (Male) Yup, on the front page of the paper or if it was something you’d feed your own family. (Dr. Dan) Yup, great comparisons. (Male) If you’re not gonna feed it to your own kids, why sell it to somebody else to feed to their kids? You know we want to make sure that these cows are in good condition score. My personal thoughts, we need a minimum of three, three and a half, I’d prefer fours a minimum going to market. (Dr. Dan) For body condition score? (Male) For body condition score. (Dr. Dan) Absolutely, you know, and some of these animals, first of all, they’ve got to be able to walk. You can’t ship a non-ambulatory animal. (Male) Right. Well it’s against the law to ship a non-ambulatory animal. (Dr. Dan) Absolutely and let’s not ship the ones that, you know, if you think they’re gonna go down on the truck. (Male) Right. I’ve worked enough sale barn work that, you know, some of these cows come in to go through and they’re so thin you can’t even get them through the chute, so if you try to tag them, they go down and end up dragging them out of the chute and euthanizing those animals. You just as well do that on the ranch, rather than bring them to town. (Dr. Dan) Yup and we have to remember that what we do in a public setting, we put the auction markets in a terrible situation when we bring those animals that aren’t of quality, we put them in a pretty precarious situation and we understand that they are a great tool for marketing cattle in this country, but they’re not a lymph node for weak and disabled cattle. Those animals either need to be treated and recovered or euthanized. (Male) Or euthanized on the ranch and, you know, even ones that can make it through, you know, like the cancer eyes or some of these clinical Johne’s cows or things like that, you know, that just couldn’t be in the food chain. (Dr. Dan) Well they wind up being condemned when they get to slaughter. (Male) Right. (Dr. Dan) So why put the animal or the people through it? (Male) Right. (Dr. Dan) Most people, we’ve got to remember, are doing the right thing. We’re just talking about educating and moving the industry and improving. (Male) We’ve got to get a little bit better every day, as Coach Snyder says. (Dr. Dan) You and Coach Snyder got that right. Folks, thanks for watching DocTalk today. Dr. Dave, thanks for being with us. (Male) Good to be here. (Dr. Dan) Great to have you on the show. Great show, great information. Remember, always work with your local practitioner and if you want to know more about what we do here at Kansas State University, you can find us on the web at www.vet.ksu.edu. You’ve been watching DocTalk. I’m certainly glad that you joined us today. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson from Kansas State University and I’ll see you down the road.

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