Managing cattle coming out of winter
Weighing cattle now as they come out of winter, whether they have been feeding on grass or a crop, helps to determine if growth rates are as expected.
If weight gains have not met your expectations, the most likely reason is a lack of quantity and/or quality feed. Even with well-prepared feed budgets, feed wastage can impact on animal performance.
Keep in mind that a protein deficiency can occur when grazing bulb crops resulting in reduced weight gains in R1 cattle. A trace element analysis can help identify any deficiencies with mineralised supplementation used to boost nutrient levels. Contact your vet to get blood samples collected either while animals are still on the crop or soon after.
Spring grass typically contains high levels of protein and carbohydrates with lower fibre content. This can cause rumen upset that can present as bubbly, squirting faeces that may contain undigested plant material indicating that rumen acidosis is occurring. To help, increase the fibre content of the diet by feeding silage.
Bloat can be seen with rumen acidosis. Frothy bloat is a risk when grazing high-quality pastures and does not require clover to be present. Bloat oils are effective when dosed using an inline system, such as a Dosatron, with a trough treatment being more variable.
Using an electric fence to manage the feed intake can be useful, just be aware that making cattle too hungry before getting a new break can result in gorging and subsequent bloat! Feeding extra fibre helps reduce bloating and is important prior to shifting the break fence.
This change of diet also increases the risk of clostridial diseases that are easily managed through vaccination. Annual boosters may need to be more frequent particularly when grazing high-quality spring forages. If you are seeing unexplained deaths, a booster vaccination using Multine® could help.
When cattle are back on pasture in the spring for approximately a month, a drench should provide protection over the coming months. Further drenching may be required in some of the mob if their liveweight gain is low at monthly weighing. Ostertagia is the most pathogenic of the cattle worm species with injectable drenches from the macrocyclic lactone (ML) family shown to result in the highest drug concertation in these worms when compared to oral or pour-on applications.¹ The use of a single action ML injectable drench should provide good worm control.
Liveweight gains are an effective monitoring tool and comparing data from previous years provides a benchmark of performance.
To discuss implementing a drench routine for your cattle in spring, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.
Registered pursuant to the ACVM Act 1997, Multine® #A000934, Multine Selenised #A000935, Multine B12 #A011311 and Multine B12 Selenised #A011766. Always read the registered label before use.
1 Leathwick, D.M., Miller, C.M., Waghorn, T.S., Schwendel, H., & Lifschitz, A. (2020). Route of administration influences the concentration of ivermectin reaching nematode parasites in the gastrointestinal tract of cattle. International Journal for Parasitology-Drugs and Drug Resistance 14, 152-8.