Health & Wellbeing
A healthy, well cared for animal is the foundation to meeting performance and profitability goals.
Animal health and wellbeing is of utmost priority. Reputation as a good stockman that is well versed in animal husbandry is a pride point within the beef cattle industry. As a herdsman, being able to monitor cattle behavior, identify signs of illness, and carry out appropriate, responsible treatment of illness is crucial to your success as a producer.
Maintaining health status and utilizing preventative medicine is an important best management tool. Having a health plan in place is key to ensure a healthy herd.
- A good vaccination program that is properly administered can greatly decrease potential illnesses.
- Beyond vaccinations, biosecurity often gets overlooked in the beef cattle industry. What is the plan for introducing new animals to the herd? Is there a quarantine pen? Are the cattle being tested before entering the herd? These are some questions that should be addressed within a herd health plan.
- Furthermore, a herd health plan should also include strategies to limit stressors such a fly control, cold weather management, and heat stress alleviation. High levels of stress can decrease an animal’s immune system, reduce feed intake, and ultimately lower profit margins.
Balancing feed cost and nutritional needs can be challenging.
Meeting an animal’s nutritional requirements is essential to maintaining health. Each animal has a different nutritional requirement that is dependent on environment, stage of life, and animal size/ genetics. Testing available feedstuff benefits a cattle operation and provides a more accurate representation of supplemental needs.
Diseases also contribute to reproductive health, so testing animals for disease is a wise decision. Breeding soundness exams should be performed before breeding season to ensure bull fertility and ability to perform.
Environment plays a large roll in animal health.
Ensuring proper ventilation within buildings, clean bedding, and proper stocking rates will positively affect health. Frequent weather changes are detrimental to animal health so monitor cattle more frequently during those time periods.
Close attention to animal health will yield a rewarding experience as an animal caretaker, but also greatly contribute to the profitability of your cattle business.