Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Vitamin A Deficiency in Beef Calves

Image result for image of calf with vitamin a deficiencyImage result for image of calf with vitamin a deficiency

As calving season comes into full swing, there have been some reports of calves being stillborn, aborted, blind, or very weak due to Vitamin A deficiencies.  Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that cows obtain from green grass or good quality hay.  Vitamin A is necessary for vision, maintenance of epithelial tissue and mucous membranes, bone development, and immune function. 

Mature cows can store Vitamin A in their livers for up to 4 months under plentiful conditions.  It is when there is prolonged drought or an extended period when they are fed hay that these levels begin to deplete and supplementation may be required to maintain proper health and reproductive performance of the cow and normal development and health of calves. 

Drought conditions will decrease the amount of carotene in plants limiting the ability for cows to accumulate liver stores during grazing.  Additionally, harvested forage during a drought will have extremely low carotene levels decreasing the ability of cows to consume their requirements during the winter feeding.  Another complicating factor is that many drought stressed forages have elevated nitrate levels.  High nitrate levels are thought to lead to destruction of carotene and Vitamin A in the digestive tract and increasing requirements for Vitamin A by depressing thyroid function.  It is curious to me that drought would be a determining factor in the last couple of year, but you never know.

Clinical Signs
Common signs of Vitamin A deficiency are reduced feed intake and growth, rough hair coat, night blindness, edema, diarrhea, seizures, increased susceptibility to infection, abnormal sperm, abnormal bone growth, low conception rates, abortion, stillbirths, and weak calves.  Calves that are born alive from a cow with low Vitamin A may be blind from microphthalmia.  There have been some born with this just this year.

Bulls also need adequate Vitamin A in their diet.  Deficiency can affect sperm development, thereby increasing the chances of low conception rates.

Cows should intake 30,000 to 45,000 IU per head per day.  Late pregnant cows and heifers probably should be supplemented if subjected to drought conditions, fed poor quality forage such as corn stalks, stemmy or weather damaged hay, or with minimal green grass intake during the year.  Supplements can be in liquid supplements mixed with feed or added to salt.  It can also be administered via injection of a Vitamin A supplement.  It is important to remember that cows and calves that are deficient in Vitamin A are probably deficient in Vitamin E, copper, manganese, selenium and zinc. 

So if you begin having some trouble this year, it might be important for you to have a diagnostic workup including liver mineral and vitamin levels.  Then you can then cost effectively supplement the necessary vitamins and minerals to help ensure a healthy beef cow, bull, and calf.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

2017 Grasshopper Information

Image result for image of grasshopper

The 2017 grasshopper survey is out from the USDA,APHIS,PPQ in our area.  It would appear the population has increased some from 2016.  Sorry if this adds to your stress!  If you anticipate a need for possible treatments in the 2018 season, APHIS PPQ can attend a rancher meeting at your request.  The number to call is (303) 371-3355.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Selenium Levels in Our Area

Over the past couple of months, I've had questions come in about selenium, selenium in our soil, selenium in your mineral, and selenium toxicity.  Here is an overview of selenium provided by Dr. Jeff Hall from Utah State University.

"Selenium is an essential element that has a narrow margin of safety, with the difference between adequate and potentially toxic concentrations in the diet being approximately 10- to 20-fold. Feed supplements, resulting in final selenium content of 0.2–0.3 ppm, are added to diets to prevent deficiency and resultant diseases such as white muscle disease in cattle and sheep, exertional myopathy in horses, hepatosis dietetica in pigs, and exudative diathesis in chickens. The maximum tolerable concentrations for selenium in most livestock feed is considered to be 2–5 ppm, although some believe 4–5 ppm can inhibit growth."

As you can see in the maps above, we have an abundance of selenium in our soils.  Plants will accumulate selenium especially if levels are high.  So the risk of grazing animals getting a selenium toxicity (alkali disease) in our area is a concern.  

I called Dr. Niles at the Arkansas Valley Research Station to get his opinion on selenium in our area.  He said that selenium is high in our area and that there is probably no need to have a selenium component in your mineral program.  He also stated the best real-time information on selenium levels in your animals is to get them blood tested.  

Blood tests to check for selenium are $28.  So unless you think you are having toxicity problems, it may not be economically feasible.  For now I think it is safe to assume that your livestock are getting plenty and the need for additional selenium in your mineral is not needed. 

Please check the chart below to see average concentrations of elements in Kiowa County.

Average concentrations of elements in Kiowa County, Colorado

(Calculated from cells in the geochemical grid plotting in this area.)
ElementSymbolMeanStd. dev.MinimumMaximum
AluminumAl (wt%)5.9010.4144.2617.338
ArsenicAs (ppm)6.8491.6093.88612.429
CalciumCa (wt%)2.1280.7690.7605.505
CopperCu (ppm)12.8302.1654.87718.538
IronFe (wt%)2.5080.2931.2383.526
MercuryHg (ppm)0.0280.0080.0100.050
MagnesiumMg (wt%)0.6930.1130.2640.969
ManganeseMn (ppm)478.03195.472267.935875.079
SodiumNa (wt%)0.8130.0550.6310.996
PhosphorusP (wt%)0.0660.0060.0380.079
LeadPb (ppm)26.3183.94514.26236.494
SeleniumSe (ppm)0.7770.5580.1225.357
TitaniumTi (wt%)0.3070.0470.1940.738
ZincZn (ppm)68.63310.21228.77798.110

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Soils, Rainfall Influence Payoff of Spoon-Feeding Nitrogen in Corn

No-Till Farmer

Recently I started following No-Till Farmer's Facebook page and came across this document concerning corn and nitrogen.  Hopefully it is something that you will find useful.  If you visit their website (you probably already have), there are other interesting articles and downloadable documents that can assist you in your no-till farming enterprise.


Soils, Rainfall Influence Payoff of Spoon-Feeding Nitrogen in Corn

No-Till Farmer Website

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Mites in Wheat

It was about this time last year that Brown Wheat Mite was becoming a problem here in Kiowa County.  Some varieties of wheat are tolerant and others are not.  If you need help determining if your varieties are tolerant, give me a call and I can find that information for you. Ext. Office number is (719) 438-5321.

The natural way to get rid of these mites is a good .5" of rain.  Since that seems very unlikely, spraying a mitocide, dimethowade, or demethoate will hopefully do the trick.  Check the chemical control portion in the fact sheet for more information.

Below is the CSU Fact Sheet for Mites in Wheat.

If it is hard to read, click on this link Mites in Wheat.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Range Management Apps

Image result for pasturemap logo                                       

Last week the boss man sprung for some new iPads for agents in the Southeast Area.  After getting over the initial shock of how cool they are, I set about finding ways to utilize the machine to do more than just check my Facebook.  As luck would have it, our Range Management Team had some recommendations on their website!

The first app I downloaded was the Pasture Map's free version app.  This app proved very useful the first day.  I was able to take it to the rancher's home and map out his pasture's with no service, which for Eastern Colorado is a must!  After mapping out the pastures, you can then add different herds you may have, then plan out a grazing plan.  It will keep track of that data so that next year you can switch things up to better utilize your forages.  This is also a great tool for people like me who can't remember what I did after I've slept much less year to year grazing strategies.

I found this app very user friendly and there is an upgrade which does cost money.  Since I'm all about free, I probably won't be looking into it anytime soon.

The second app I downloaded was the Cow Poop Analyzer app.  With the Cow Poop Analyzer app, you take a picture of a manure pile, and then compare your picture to file photos. Each file photo comes with an estimate for the crude protein and digestibility you can expect from your forage based on the quality of the manure. Even better, you can add a title and pasture name to the automatically dated record. Then you’ll have a history of forage quality in your pastures over time.

Remember it is just an estimate, but really should prove very useful and get you thinking about watching your manure for range management and feeding decisions. 

Watch for future app recommendations on our blog as I keep playing with my new toy!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Your Important Papers: What, Why, and How Long to Keep

Image result for important papers image

Tax season just ended in the McNeely household and as usual, it's really nice to be done with it.  Ol' Uncle Sam is even going to let me have some of it back which is even better! 

As I'm filing away last year's information, my folders don't want to fit back into my file case due to an abundance of junk from all the other previous year's information.  Thus ensued the yearly push and pull of papers and folders until it all slides (forced) into its resting place for the year.  This year's struggle got me wondering how long i need to keep all of that information.  Well low and behold CSU Extension has a fact sheet that systematically tells me what I should keep, why I should keep it, and how long I should keep them.  The only thing it doesn't do is shut off the TV for me and make me go do it. 

So without further adieu, please click on the link below to read said fact sheet.  Enjoy!

Your Important Papers: What, Why, and How Long to Keep