Rayner Reckons

Mar 04

Managing the green pick

Posted on Tuesday, March 04, 2014

As autumn arrives, the weather patterns seem to be slowly changing. Its great to have more moisture in the atmosphere and to hear of showers, rain and storms.  I know it hasn't been equally spread across the areas most in need, but its a start.

The next few weeks can be a little bit of a challenge for graziers, particularly if you have been feeding livestock for a while.  Any green feed that starts to come away is going to prove a real temptation for your cattle.  They will chase the green pick and this can create some problems.

The first thing to remember is your cattle won't be able to eat enough green pick to meet their daily energy needs. Secondly they will use up a lot of energy chasing the new growth.

If you have been feeding cattle in sacrifice paddocks, you need to keep doing this for a little longer.  This will do a few things for you.

Firstly it stops the cattle chasing all over the paddocks looking for feed and burning up energy.  Secondly you will need to keep feeding cattle until the paddock feed has grown sufficiently to meet livestock needs, and its easier to do that in the systems you've already set up.

Lastly it gives your pastures a real chance to re-establish and grow to a point where they can support grazing.  

When your pastures get to a point where they will support grazing, I reckon its important to give all your animals a booster shot of 5 in 1 vaccine.

The clostridial bacteria which cause the disease Enterotoxemia (Pulpy Kidney) responds to the change in the flow of feed through an animals digestive system. Pulpy Kidney is a fatal condition for livestock so don't forget the booster shot before you go onto the new feed.

The next few weeks may be a good chance to check your paddocks to see if there are any unusual plants and weeds growing.  They seem to be the quickest to respond to rain, and if you can get onto checking for them now, you can most likely control them before grazing or pastures hide them from your view.  If any of those weeds are new or potentially toxic to livestock, its better to get them death with now, especially before you put your cattle back onto the pastures.

Hopefully the change in season will see a return to more favourable rainfall and growing conditions, but until that happens, stick with your drought management program until your paddock feed can support your stock.  I know this can be frustrating, but a few days or a weeks patience can give you the chance to check your pastures, and prepare your cattle while avoiding the energy loss chasing green pick causes.

Sep 16

Vaccination makes sense

Posted on Monday, September 16, 2013

Clostridial diseases are unfortunately pretty common across Australia and without good management will have a big impact on herd health and production.  Clostridial diseases are caused by bacteria which live in the environment, generally in soil.  However some bacteria can also live in populations in the intestines and tissues of healthy animals.  

The five most common Clostridial diseases are Tetanus, Malignant Oedema, Black Disease, Black Leg and Enterotoxaemia or Pulpy Kidney as its more commonly known.

These five disease often cause most of the production losses experienced by producers.  The bacteria enters the animal through cuts, wounds, abrasions or in the case of Pulpy Kidney when the feed the animal consumes allows the bacteria to multiply rapidly and overwhelm the animals immune system.  

Fortunately producers can manage for these diseases with a readily available vaccination.  The 5 in 1 products are designed to vaccinate and boost an animals immunity to the Clostridial diseases.

Now while the vaccinations are readily available, I reckon a lot of producers don't always use them correctly and so miss out on the full benefit of the vaccinations.  Ideally these vaccinations should be given as a first shot, followed by a booster 4 to 6 weeks later.  The animal then receives an annual booster shot.

Understanding how vaccinations work is important if you are to get the full benefit from the program. Following the first vaccination, the immune system takes a few days to build up a level of immunity where the animal is protected from the disease. This initial immunity does decline over a four to six week period which is why giving the second vaccination within this time is so important.  After the second shot is given the immunity levels are then usually sufficient to carry the animal through for 12 months.

In the those first few days, the animal is still not fully protected from the effects of the disease.  

I reckon one of the biggest problems with vaccinations is producers often have too long a gap between the first and second shots.  If your practice is to give your first shot at marking and the second shot at weaning a few months later, then the vaccination program isn't really effective!

Marking is a time when animals will be really exposed to cuts, abrasions and the conditions which suit Clostridial bacteria that cause disease such as Tetanus.  If your first vaccination is at marking, and it takes a few days for the immunity response to occur, there is a great potential your animals could be impacted on by these diseases.  

If you don't provide your second shot within the optimum 4 to 6 week period and wait a few months until weaning, you again expose your animals to a potential risk where they are not protected.  

I reckon the ideal program sees calves given their first vaccination 4 weeks prior to marking, and the second is given at marking.  I reckon that provides the best level of immunity for calves.

I've had quite a few producers tell me at length why doing it this way doesn't work or that it costs too much.  But I reckon if you can reduce your pre weaning losses from something preventable, just by changing your management program slightly, it is worth it.  

MLA have developed a really handy calculator which you can use to work out the potential costs or vaccinating or not vaccinating.

Getting a good vaccination program in place can help you prevent common diseases and can contribute significantly to lifting your herd health and your enterprise production and profits.  I reckon it is a must do in every enterprise.


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