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Frequently Asked Questions :: Cattle

    Milk related FAQs

  1. What is inbreeding? How will it affect my livestock? 
    Inbreeding is breeding between close relatives. If practiced repeatedly, it often leads to a reduction in genetic diversity, and the increased gene expression of negative recessive traits, resulting in inbreeding depression. This may result in inbred individuals exhibiting reduced health and fitness and lower levels of fertility. Livestock breeders often practice inbreeding to "fix" desirable characteristics within a population. However, they must then cull unfit offspring, especially when trying to establish the new and desirable trait in their stock.

  2.  I have heard that a commercial or purebred Sire should not be too heavy to breed cows and heifers. Not too heavy not too weak or thin. Then, what is the Ideal weight for bulls to breed regardless if they are show bulls or not? 
     Prefer bulls with a body condition score around 6. A mature bull with body condition score of 6 would probably weigh between 1700 and 2100 lbs. For heifers the smaller bull would be better.

  3. Pregnant cow? Details on "bumping" technique. 
    Once your cow is further along than 41/2, 5 month, you can generally see a triangle, a sunken in place on her right flank. When the fetus becomes large enough to fall over the pelvic rim and into the body cavity it sags the attaching muscles down and creates this sign. One day flat cow, next day great sunken-in place. In chute: With both hands flat and fingers spread wide out, place firmly against the right side of cow below this place on belly and push quickly and fairly hard in, and try to hold that position and feel. The little bulk of the calf within will swing back and 'bump' into You. Also, watch her right side when she drinks water. Often this will make the calf active and you can see the movement. As she trots away from you watch for the muscle attachment at the sides of her tail pull in response to the bobbing weight of a calf.

  4.  How many cows can you run with a bull? 
    It depends on the age of the Bull and the terrain of the land the cows are he is expected to breed. A yearling bull usually can handle around 20 cows in average conditions. A 2 year-old or older can handle around forty cows. Rough ground or when the cows are spread out can cut these numbers by half.

  5. The Fat & SNF content of the milk (yielded by a farmer) is not up to the standard. How can the quality of milk be improved ?
    Natural and man -made factors affect the Fat & SNF content of milk. Factors due to genetic inheritance of the animal cannot be rectified. Feeds and feeding can influence the Fat & SNF content of milk. For Technical advice, the Dairy Extension Officer of the area may be contacted.

  6. We have been observing a 4-day-old calf whose cord has dried, but the area is protruding. Would this be considered a navel hernia, and is this something that will go away as the calf grows? Or is this something that a vet should address? 
    Could be, maybe not, I have a 4 month old heifer that looks like a Brahma in the naval area, whenever the vet stops by he checks her out and just shakes his head, not a hernia, just a floppy naval area.

  7. What is the proper way to tube feed a calf? 
    Have someone hold the bottle so contents do not pour out or into the calf until the tube is set. I assume you have an esophageal feeder? It Must have the little bulb on the end of the tube or you will likely put the tube in the lungs. Now. straddle the calf and open its mouth wide enough to get the tube in the mouth and guide it to the back of the throat gently, then pushing with a slight upward motion feel it pop past the vocal cords. It should easily go in the calf about a foot. You can feel the bulge of the bulb through the fur on his neck. I prefer a flexible tube but many of the ones available are rigid so it is a little more uncomfortable on the calf. When you are satisfied that it is in the esophagus, firmly hold the tube in his mouth and let your partner hold the jug up to allow the milk to flow in by gravity. Then slowly pull the tube out and let a little milk end up on his tongue to help activate his senses. One to two liters is plenty for the first feed.

  8. How do I care for a newborn calf? 
    Nature usually runs its course and everything goes fine with newborn calves. But there are several things that a rancher needs to check for, and several things you can do to make sure that your calf gets off to a good start. In order to survive, your calf absolutely MUST get a good dose of colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk from its momma and is rich in nutrients it needs for the calf to survive. Your primary concern when you first spot your newborn calf is to make sure that the calf gets up and nurses from the momma. If there is some problem preventing the calf from nursing, you either need to fix the problem or give the calf an alternative colostrum (such as frozen colostrum or dry-mix colostrum).

  9. I have a 7 month old steer calf losing his hair around his front shoulders and head. How can I tell whether this is lice or if it is ringworm? 
    If it's lice you should notice the calf rubbing his head and body against anything that's standing around. If you can get close enough to him you could pull out some hair and if you look at it closely you might even see the lice crawling around in the hair. The other cattle are more than likely already infected too so you have to treat the whole herd. Any farm supply store has products for treating lice. I use Synergized Delice and dilute it with fly spray and use a garden sprayer to spray it over the animals. You can spray the whole animal but the lice seem to concentrate from the shoulders forward and back in the tail head area. Delice is actually a pour on but it's much faster to just spray it on than to run the animals through a chute and pour it on. I tried spraying it undiluted but it's too thick to get it through my sprayer. If anybody is wondering the garden sprayer is only used for spraying cattle. Cattle will lose their hair from ringworm too but that would leave a scaled appearance to the hide.

  10. What is Brucellosis? 
    Here is an exerpt from UNEB on brucellosis. "Brucellosis (contagious abortion, Bangs disease). Although federal and state regulations have helped to control this disease, brucellosis is still a threat. Brucellosis is caused by the bacterium Brucella abortus and it is spread via infected placentas, vaginal discharges and aborted fetuses. Following the ingestion of B. abortus, susceptible cows or heifers may have abortions, retained placentas, weak calves or infertility problems. Milk from an infected cow also may harbor B. abortus. The infected milk creates a public health problem because B. abortus causes brucellosis ("undulant fever") in humans.

  11. What are scours? 
    Scours is diarrhea in calves that can be either viral or bacterial in nature. It can be life threatening if not dealt with immediately. It can also be transmitted to humans if the proper precautions aren't followed.

  12. What is the cause of mastitis? What are the clinical signs for it? And how can it be treated? 
    Mastitis occurs most frequently when you have a heavy milking cow and a calf that is not eating enough. The down side of cows that produce lots of milk is they are more likely to get mastitis and they are harder to keep through the winter. The up side is they raise the biggest calves. So you have to maintain a balance. More is not necessarily better. The factors mentioned by lisa are also possibilities.

    There a number of causes: stress infection, stepping on the bag, etc. One of the more prominent signs would be swelling in the udder. Treat dairy cattle with antibiotics usually up the quarter that is infected, but if you don't have a good diagnosis as to what strain of bacteria, it might not be easy to find the right antibiotic. Maybe you could get a sample run to see then you would know what to treat with.

  13. What is vibriosis? 
    Vibriosis is a nasty contagious, sexually transmitted disease in cattle, which you can protect against by vaccination. Periods of infertility, early abortions and slow return to heat, continuing services without conception, strung out calving. Cows can be carriers for long periods of time, and the bull spreads it.

  14. What can I do to prevent my cow from bloating? She bloats every time she eats feed?
    There are two temporary measures that will help alleviate the problem but it won't cure it. One is to get some mineral oil (about a quart or two) down her with a coke bottle or a tube (but it isn't a good idea if you don't know what you are doing with the tube), the other thing that works is Terramycin Crumbles (get it at your cattle supplies store) Mix it with her feed. There is a more permanent solution you can try & that is Pro-bios. It will put the bacteria back in the stomach so she can utilize her feed better. If she continues to bloat I would recommend a vet, or if you have already had one out you probably should consider selling her. There is also a bloat medicine you can buy but I have no idea what the name is ( ask at your store.)Hope this helps.

  15. Is the tendency for a cow to have a retained placenta somehow related to genetics and/or lack of proper nutrients? 
    Lack of proper nutrition, our vet implicated lack of selenium. We made sure selenium was in our mineral mix this past year and have not had a problem. I've heard a vitamin (can't think which one right now) might be responsible, also. The main thing about vitamin and mineral deficiencies is they usually take a long time developing and a long time fixing. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. The herd health will be greatly improved by providing vitamins and minerals year 'round and based on what else they are fed. Lots of people on this board will testify to the value of regular mineral supplementation.

  16. What is artificial insemination (AI)? 
    Artificial insemination (AI) is the process of impregnating a cow with semen that has been removed from a bull. When done effectively, AI has success rate similar to that of natural breeding. 
    AI is used for a variety of reasons, some of which include:
    1. Choosing the sire (or sires) for your breeding program from a world-wide pool of genetics.
    2. Avoiding the expense and added trouble of keeping bulls in pasture.
    3. Breeding more cows to a single bull at one time than would be possible with natural breeding.

  17. How long can semen be stored? 
    Indefinitely you may lose some potency, but as long as the tank is full of nitrogen, it will keep for years. Use tongs to retrieve semen.

  18. How should frozen semen be handled? 
    Semen want last long out of the tank. You’re supposed to transfer semen from one tank to another in less than three seconds. When getting ready to A.I. a cow you transfer it from the tank to a water bath which should be 95 degrees, you want to do this as fast as possible. You can leave it in the water bath from 30 seconds to 15 minutes. You can touch it for a short period of time, I have removed it from the tank with my hands before, but I use tweezers most of the time.

  19. What is the normal temperature for cattle? 
    101.5 F +/- 1 degree, 38.5 C +/- .5 degree

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