Spring is in full swing and summer is right around the corner. Is your livestock ready for the wet and cold weather? Spring can be too wet and cold for livestock to graze naturally. They may need extra energy to stay warm, which will require them to need additional supplements in order to stay healthy.
Spring nutrition and health issues
Although spring blizzards are actually good for your pasture’s moisture content, they can also become a cause for sickness in animals, because changing weather patterns can challenge their immune systems.
In one of our previous blogs, we talked about spring pasture management for your livestock. Just before summer arrives, the pastures are usually just starting to grow after a long winter, and you would be tempted to graze your livestock on the pasture that has just started to grow. However, you should start grazing your animals on the pastures gradually and slowly to allow the grasses to grow. They must have at least 8” of healthy growth so that both your livestock and grasses stay healthy.
Pasture grasses need to grow sufficiently before allowing your livestock to graze. If the leaves of the grasses are grazed before the plants grow to a sufficient height, the amount of photosynthesis required for your pasture to grow will not be sufficient. Often, the plants will grow weak and reduce their ability to grow if they are grazed too early in the spring.
You should wait for your grass to grow healthy and tall before grazing. In the meantime, you could feed your animals food supplements, hay, or microgreen fodder, that are easily available in the market. Proper nutrition to your livestock will take care of most health issues.
Change livestock feed stuff gradually
Although both pasture and hay are forms of forage, there is a difference between those two. Feeding hay to your livestock may reduce the amount of moisture in their feed. Dry hay usually contains about 15% moisture, compared to grass, which contains about 85% moisture. Many of the livestock which are hind-gut and depend on fermenting behavior also rely on microbial actions in their gastrointestinal tracts to process their food. These microbes are a mix of various microscopic organisms that interact and process food in order to benefit the livestock in several ways. A sudden change in diet may not give enough time for the microbes to increase in population, and may harm the health of the livestock. Therefore, a supplement such as microgreens that has been developed for at least a week and contains a lot of moisture is much better for digestion and processing in their stomachs than dry hay.
Decrease the chances of laminitis infection
Laminitis can be a costly and painful disease for your livestock. It is very common among horses and pony during the spring. During the spring and summer, the disease infection increases about 5% more than usual. Half the cases of laminitis infection reported in the United States occur in the pastures. During the spring and summer, the grasses make sugar in the process of photosynthesis. When they produce more sugar than needed, they store the sugar in their stems for later use for rapid growth during the summer. The vegetative tissues of grasses store the simple sugar in their stems as nonstructural carbohydrate (NSC). Evidence has been found that there is a correlation between laminitis disease and NSC in grasses.
Common safety practices during the spring and summer
During spring and summer, there are various precautionary measures that you could follow to prevent most seasonal diseases among your livestock.
Practices to Reduce Parasitism
There are two ways to control internal parasites of your livestock. You could either de-worm your livestock periodically or you could manage your livestock at the pastures so that they get fewer parasites. However pasture management alone cannot efficiently get rid of all the parasites among livestock. To reduce the spread of third stage larva population, follow the following steps.
- Put younger cattle that are more susceptible to parasites on a pasture that hasn’t been grazed on in the last 12 months. Grazing young cattle on a pasture prepared form a grain seedbed is also safe.
- Put the older less susceptible adult and mature cattle on regular grass land. mature cattle become immune to most parasites.
- Avoid overgrazing. Pastures that are over grazed hold more dangers of contaminating animals because animals graze closer to the ground and pickup larva.
Use medication and de-worming tools to get rid of parasites from livestock. De-worming should not be targeted on cattle or livestock that show signs of parasite infection, but should be done periodically on all the livestock. Anthelmintic parasite control methods should be applied on all livestock in a timely manner to control parasites effectively.
Pinkeye is a disease that is difficult to cure and also costly for the cattle farmers. Pinkeye usually hits the cattle farms during spring and summer. Pinkeye disease costs the US farmers an estimated amount of $150 million a year, a loss that includes treatments, deaths, and milk production losses of dairy and beef farms. It has been estimated that 10 million calves are affected by pinkeye around the country a year.
- Preventive vaccine: Vaccination could be the best way to prevent pinkeye form hitting your herd. Best time to apply vaccination on your livestock is in the early spring or before summer when pinkeye could hit hard.
- Control face flies. House flies feed on cattle eye secretion and spread the germs among cattle. You can get rid of flies by cleaning your barn or animal sheds regularly, keep their feeding containers, water containers and all other tools sanitized and clean. Make sure that you use safe insect spray and rotate the brand because flies can become resistant to chemicals if you use the same spray for long.
- Manage weed and dung: weed and manure can also become target for flies and maggot growth. Keep weed, manure and dung clean.
- Minimize dry hay feeding: Feeding dry hay can increase eye irritation and can contribute to diseases.
- Keep your animals safe from other diseases: Pinkeye can be caused if other diseases prevail. Make sure you apply vaccine and other preventive measure son your cattle. Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) has been linked to several cases of pinkeye.
Make sure you monitor your animal’s health regularly to identify sickness before they get serious. Isolate sick animals quickly and get professional help. Many of the communicable diseases spread quickly and transmit through air or insects to other animals. Respond quickly with treatment. Your local authorities should be able to help you with any disease control or treatment, so don’t hesitate to seek advice in case of emergencies.
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