Some tips on fall and winter herd weather
By CHAD GULLEY
Smith County Extension Agent
Herd health is important all year. Fall and winter months are periods when the management of our livestock may need extra attention. There are things as managers we can do to help prepare our livestock for this time period.
Acorns are on the ground now and producers need to watch cattle for signs of acorn poisoning. Cattle like the taste of acorns and may seek them out. Hungry cattle that consume too many acorns can become sick. The acorn poisoning is caused by tannins in the acorn especially when the acorn is green. The best management is to examine cattle regularly and remove cattle from pastures with heavy acorn crops. Many producers vaccinate their cattle going into fall to help boost their immune system. Clostridial diseases, leptospirosis, ana-plasmosis and pneumonia are just a few things producers may vaccinate for heading into fall or winter months. To set up a vaccination program on your farm or ranch, visit with your local veterinarian. Some vaccines require more than one application or a booster vaccine given over a period of time to boost the immune system.
An adequate supply of water for livestock is always important. If we go through long periods of extremely cold temperatures and frozen water troughs, it may require breaking of the ice on the water for livestock to get enough water to meet their needs.
Cold temperatures reduce water consumption. Be sure to have a good supply of water for your livestock at all times. When livestock go off water, they will go off feed or hay thus affecting performance.
Forage digestion will help generate heat in the animal. Take advantage of the “internal heat” of these livestock by supplying enough forage/feed especially when extremely cold nights are on their way. Livestock may need to be moved to pastures with trees to help shelter the wind.
Protein and energy fed to livestock in hay and feed are important factors during cold weather. Poor quality hay may provide enough energy but may be deficient in protein to meet the animal's needs.
Providing good hay but not enough of it can improve protein deficiencies but leave cattle lacking energy.
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