How to Manage Calf Scours

The following is a CattleFACS brochure reprinted with the permission of the Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan.  (FACS represents the Saskatchewan livestock industry in advancing responsible animal care and handling practices in agriculture.)

Jean L Clavelle

Calf Scours Overview:

Calf Pic 2

GENERAL PRINCIPLES

1. The Importance of Colostrum

The major factor influencing survival of calves is the level of immunity at the onset of diarrhea. The calf must get colostrum! The level of immunity required for calves born and confined in a farm yard is much higher than for calves born and “mothered” out on the range.

2. Hypothermia:

Often calves that have “crashed” are hypothermic (low temperature). If calves feel cold, have no sucking reflex but are not dehydrated, these calves are probably too “cold.” This could be confirmed by taking their temperature with an inexpensive digital thermometer. Newborn calves with a temperature less than 35˚C (96˚F) are considered hypothermic and should be treated. They will not warm up on their own.  These calves must be “warmed up” before they will absorb fluids given orally. Continue reading

Bridging the great divide

by Jean L Clavelle

There are some statistics being tossed around these days on social media – only 3% of the population is involved in food production agriculture.  Of those involved in primary production, 98% are family owned and operated.  Interesting as it seems this has set up our culture to be an “us against them” scenario in terms of food production and the general public.

It has been my experience that people in animal agriculture are passionate about raising their animals.  This isn’t a job, it’s a way of life.  Most of my colleagues feel the same way, and primary producers (those directly involved with on-farm production) that I’ve had the pleasure of working with here in western Canada exemplify this statement.  They want to produce a safe product, they want their animals to have a satisfying life and they want to have enough income to provide for their families and continue on with this lifestyle.

Sure there are some bad eggs (sorry for the bad pun) and those that don’t make the right choices.  This happens in every walk of life, every profession, every business however it is not the norm and it is certainly not the norm (or considered acceptable) in animal agriculture.

Sadly animal rights groups and some media presentations like those we saw in the recent W5 report do their best to highlight the small percentage that do not represent what conventional agriculture really is.  And instead of highlighting positive practices, sensationalized media coverage takes small snippets of unacceptable episodes and position them as being the norm.  Let’s be clear, animal rights groups do not want us to use animals in any way shape or form.  They do not believe we should eat meat or any animal by-product.  And unfortunately this message is lost for the average consumer. Continue reading

Old man winter is coming – are you and your animals ready?

by Jean L Clavelle

Here in the west, most people feel cheated by this year’s short summer.  Snow arrived early last fall and then stuck around far longer than we all felt it should have this spring.  However, whether we like it or not , winter is fast approaching!  For the average Joe this means blowing out the sprinklers, finding those extension cords, and winterizing your house.  Not only do producers need to do all of those things, they also need to worry about getting their animals ready for winter too.Winter Cows PIC

There are a few key items on producers’ checklist each fall to ensure they optimize herd health and reproduction in the winter.

Continue reading

Livestock on the road – how you can help in an accident

By Jean Clavelle

Wtransport PICell, it’s that time of year.  Cattle are coming home from pasture, calves are being weaned and sent to feedlot and horse enthusiasts are enjoying the last few pleasant riding days left of the season.  No one plans to have one, but accidents do happen especially when animals are involved.  And whether you are the one involved in a motor vehicle accident or an innocent bystander it’s important to know what to do and how you can help when livestock are on the loose.

The top 5 things you need to know about livestock in an emergency:

  1. Livestock do not understand lights and sirens mean pullover.  This will definitely not make them stop.
  2. When an animal feels cornered, it will fight or try to run.
  3. Livestock view us as predators and their natural instinct is to flee from predators.
  4. Prey animals are herd animals and become extremely agitated when isolated or separated from other animals.  Single animals are extremely dangerous animals.
  5. Once livestock are excited or scared it will take at least 20 to 30 minutes to calm them back down. Continue reading

Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan pleased with the success of another ‘We Care’ Billboard Campaign!

By Jean Clavelle

TBillboard campaign June 16his year marks another triumph for the “We Care” billboard campaign initiated by the Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan (FACS).  The program, which began in 1996, feature beef, bison, horse, chicken, egg and swine producers with their animals and are posted around busy thoroughfares of Saskatoon, Regina and Moose Jaw.

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It's All Antibiotic Free, Baby!

Reprinted with permission from Hurdhealth.com

 

It’s All Antibiotic Free, Baby!

Posted by
After all of the recent Panera and Chipotle hype about antibiotic free production, I decided to look at the data. This is also a follow up to my previous blog about antibiotic free (ABF) meat; I am going to present some data to back up my claim that there is very little difference between conventional and ABF – in other words, it’s all antibiotic free, baby! #ItsAllABF!

Due to farmers following appropriate withdrawal times, there are very few violations. In fact in the last three years of USDA testing no broiler chickens have been found with violative residues for the scheduled (random) sampling. For beef only 2 violations out of 1,600 samples were found and only 3 out of 2,200 from market hogs.  Note that antibiotics are not toxins, there are useful and very safe products used by us all.

The Bottom Line

The residue detection levels in the 3 classifications that I analyzed (beef cattle, market hogs, and broilers) are extremely small and well below the levels that would cause adverse effects to a human eating the meat. In addition, if an animal tests positive for residues, it does not enter the food supply.

Meat from an ABF farm would supposedly have zero levels of residues – but, if you aren’t going to get sick or be affected by the perfectly healthy, wholesome conventional meat, why should you pay more for something that potentially carries more foodborne illness?

From a veterinary perspective, I am concerned with the internal struggle that the ABF farmer must face. Most farmers get some premium for raising ABF meat, so if the animals get sick does the farmer treat and lose the financial benefits of ABF or wait a day or two? Waiting can increase mortality and spread of infectious disease significantly. What about the veterinarian, who has taken an oath to prevent animal suffering, but management will only let him treat a small percentage of the barns? Can these restaurateurs really argue their ABF meat provides a better “conscience choice,” if it comes at the cost of additional mortality and animal suffering? Continue reading

Reducing weaning stress, as simple as Two Steps!

Quiet Wean PicNot often do science and research result in real world applications with just a few studies.  Often, practical adaptations are made after years of study at multiple centers involving many scientists and dozens or hundreds of publications that have each built on the tiny steps of the one before it.

Often that is the case, but not always.  Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan were investigating behaviour of beef cows and stumbled across something quite extraordinary that resulted in a new understanding of how to wean calves.  After just a few projects, these researchers were able to offer a method of weaning that dramatically reduces stress for both the cow and calf, and results in healthier bigger calves for the producer.  Better still the idea has taken off across North America! Continue reading

Cattle – unintelligent meat or really smart animals?

by Jean Clavelle

Someone recently sent me this YouTube link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCQkYcgxpXw) – both interesting and hilarious.  Why would cattle be inclined to chase a remote control toy and then alternately be herded by it?  Let’s face it, animal behaviour is fascinating.

When I decided to go to grad school and began investigating options I discovered the world of Ethology which is the study of animal behaviour.   I was hooked – the what, where, when, why, and how of animal management!  Some people think cattle are unintelligent and the less generous might say stupid.  However when we look more closely at why cattle behave as they do we find there’s a complex physiological, anatomical and physical system at play that has evolved and adapted those behaviours for survival that humans are just beginning to understand.Beef Cattle Continue reading

A biosecurity plan for all horses

by Jean Clavelle

If you have ever had anything to do with livestock, chances are you’ve heard the word biosecurity.   Biosecurity refers to practices designed to prevent, reduce or eliminate the introduction and incidental spread of disease.  Most of us would associate this with poultry or swine production systems but have you ever thought about biosecurity as it relates to your horse?

Horses are often kept in areas of high traffic and are therefore of high risk for exposure to disease.   With some basic practices and common sense you can reduce the biosecurity risk for your own horses whether you have a herd of 20 or of 1!  Pasture Horse

Here are a few tips: Continue reading

Innovative dairy goat farmers win prestigious awards

By Lilian Schaer

evin and Cindy Hope, with daughter Mackenzie, received their County of Peterborough Recognition award for agricultural leadership on May 24 in Norwood, Ontario.

Kevin and Cindy Hope, with daughter Mackenzie, received their County of Peterborough Recognition award for agricultural leadership on May 24 in Norwood, Ontario.

(Keene) Cindy and Kevin Hope always knew they wanted to create their own branded line of dairy goat products and goat meat right on their farm some day. What they didn’t know was that their efforts to build sustainability into their farming business would net them two prestigious awards.Cross Wind Farm was the recipient of a 2013 County of Peterborough Recognition Award as well as a Premier’s Award of Excellence for Agri-food Innovation Excellence in 2012. Cindy is delighted with this kind of recognition for the work her family is doing on their farm and in Ontario’s growing goat industry.

“To win an award of this magnitude means the world to us. It means the small producer does matter and is making a difference in our local food chain,” she explains. “The work that farmers put in in a day hardly gets noticed so this recognition is a great pat on the back for us.” Continue reading