East Texas Ag News: Cattle health and profitability

East Texas Ag News
East Texas Ag News(KTRE)
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 5:06 PM CDT
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From the Angelina County Texas A&M Extension Office

EAST TEXAS - Looking ahead at the upcoming hay and grazing season, there is growing concern among the cattlemen with whom I have been visiting. First there is the high fertilizer prices, then a report from some climate experts that say we may have less rain then normal this summer, and finally, potential corn supply shortages due to global supply and the war in Ukraine.

I think coffee shop talk in every corner of an agricultural community focuses on rainfall and market prices, the two very issues that we cannot control. Fertilizer prices, I can see. Those are blatantly in your face. Regarding weather, I’m hoping those predictions are wrong. Honestly, I don’t even believe the weekend forecast, let alone any prediction that is a few months out.

There was a fair amount of press in early 2022 for strong calf prices later this year. Then came the war in Ukraine. Now, I have a hard enough time wrapping me head around the local economy. Seeing the impact at local cattle auction barns from a war half a world away is beyond my scope. Every ag economist says corn prices are inversely related to feeder cattle and calf prices. So, if corn goes up due to a shortage (as well as increased input costs), then what lies ahead for cattle prices?

However, despite these external environmental and global economic factors, beef producers can do much to increase income by being proactive and focusing on known controllable variables and choosing wisely. How? Healthy cattle put on weight better than unhealthy. And when calving rates are increased, more income is generated against the overhead costs for the entire herd.

Take horn flies, for example. Horn flies are the number one pest of beef cattle. Living their entire life on the backs of livestock, they feed constantly. Those flies are a real problem for many. In addition to the excessive number of painful bites that occur daily, the lesions can lead to secondary infections. Not treating mama cows can lead to a 12% decrease in the average daily growth rate of nursing calves and smart stockmen do their best to eliminate flies.

Another smart move is having your bull tested by a trusted, local veterinarian. From the financial losses from a sterile bull or a herd infected with Bovine trichomoniasis (Trich), one visit to the vet can catch that and prevent a terrible calf crop.

Another simple measure for improving management is cattle identification. Simply tagging and keeping records will go a long way to helping most producers know what problems are recurring to which cows and who to cull. We’ve all heard that the most faded ink is better than the sharpest memory. The same is true for cattle identification. Unless you have a few “pet” cows, you’d be far ahead by identifying them and keeping records.

This Tuesday, May 17, the Angelina County Extension office will host a program at 6:30 pm called “Cattle Herd Management and Profitability”. The featured speaker is Dr. Bradley Clary, local veterinarian.

There is no fee for the program. Topics such as those above on basic herd health, fertility, and profitability will be the focus of the program.