The harsh conditions of winter can present a challenge to some horses in maintaining an adequate body condition. Colder temperatures require increased calorie intake to maintain body warmth. Loss of body condition is often a very gradual process, occurring over several weeks to months, the problem can "sneak up" on horse owners if they are not proactively observing and maintaining their horse’s body condition.
This year has been a hard one on the cow herd. The heat and drought this summer resulted in short pastures, minimal to no stockpiled forage and a scarce hay supply for most producers. Furthermore, I have noticed a trend of more open cows on recent pregnancy checks, likely in direct relation to the heat stress and lowered nutritional plane encountered during the breeding season. It is always a good idea for producers to consider implementing practices that improve cow productivity and efficiency. However, this year carries with it a potential for maximum returns.
With the first frost of the year right around the corner, fall poses an excellent time of year to discuss the Bot fly, its impact on the horse and best means of control.
Over the past several weeks I have had numerous questions regarding the safety of Johnson grass as a forage or for hay. The extremely, hot and dry summer left many pastures short and several producers feeding hay as we approach fall. Johnson grass is a plant that tends to grow and proliferate during periods of heat and drought when other grasses fail to grow. As a result many pastures have an abundance of Johnson grass this year in comparison to other forages and during periods when feedstuffs are in short supply, producers naturally consider grazing or haying the Johnson grass. However, under the right conditions Johnson grass can accumulate high levels of nitrate and/or prussic acid and become highly toxic to livestock.
In a previous issue we discussed an emerging disease in Missouri cattle known as trichomoniasis or ‘trich’. This issue provides an excellent opportunity to bring producers up to date on recent changes in Missouri state regulations.
Flies are a well known and common pest to most all classes of livestock. With heat and humidity, flies thrive and this makes summer in the Ozarks a prime environment for fly populations. Economic losses can be substantial, particularly in beef and dairy cattle. In cattle, flies can cause production losses in the way of reduced weight gain, lowered milk production and the transmission of disease.
An outbreak of equine herpes virus has created quite a stir in the horse world recently. Several horses that attended the National Cutting Horse Association's Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah this May later developed neurologic signs and then tested positive for Equine Herpesvirus-1. Several shows have subsequently been cancelled, some farms have been quarantined and a few of the affected horses unfortunately euthanized as a result of the outbreak.
Spring is the traditional time of year for breeding on most horse ranches. Horses are long-day breeders meaning that natural reproductive activity peaks during the longer days of the year. Generally, from mid-spring through the summer mares regularly cycle every 21 days.
Animal agriculture is becoming more and more advanced each and every year and unfortunately, even though dairy producers are more efficient and producing a higher quality product than ever before, remaining profitable has become even more challenging. Therefore, in order to maximize cow health and milk production and to minimize treatment cost and milk discard, I encourage producers to consider implementing a pre-planned mastitis treatment protocol.
In the previous issue, we began a series on mastitis with a focus on contagious pathogens. In this issue, our focus will switch to the environmental pathogens and their identification, treatment and control.