Archive for August, 2022

Fortify Lifelong Immunity Through Nutrition

Saturday, August 27th, 2022

Fortify Lifelong Immunity Through NutritionFortify lifelong immunity through nutrition: A key to healthy cattle? Look at what you feed them. Morbidity and mortality in cattle haven’t improved over time, even though more vaccines are available, educational materials are easier to find and the industry has provided incentives to improve health with value-added programs. Yet, establishing lifelong immunity is still something every herd should strive for – in an attempt to reduce spend on health issues and capture value.

There are three different types of immunity: innate, passive and active. A comprehensive management plan that includes health protocols, limiting stress and balancing nutrition will give your herd the base it needs for optimized immunity.

Innate immunity:

Innate immunity establishes in a calf shortly after conception and is influenced throughout life. It is the first line of defense to help prevent disease in cattle.

White blood cells are a key component of innate immunity. Whenever there is a breach, like a physical cut, a pathogen can enter the body, causing an infection. The white blood cells then hunt and destroy the virus or bacteria to keep the animal healthy.

Nutritionally, you can stimulate innate immunity and help cattle prevent disease. Nutritional additives like prebiotics and probiotics can help prime the innate immune system to produce white blood cells that work more effectively.

Passive immunity:

Passive immunity, from cows’ colostrum, is shorter-term (lasting only months) and results from proper cow nutrition. Consumption of high-quality colostrum is the starting point for building passive immunity in your calves. Colostrum contains immunoglobulin antibodies, protein and energy which are vital for newborns. If colostrum quality suffers, higher calf morbidity rates can occur.

Cows and bred heifers start creating colostrum in the mammary glands about a month prior to calving. The nutrition fed to cows during this time can impact the quality of colostrum produced.

Colostrum quality can also be set back if nutrition declines during stress events, such as weather challenges like drought or cold snaps.

Cover your bases with balanced protein, energy, vitamins and minerals in your cows’ diet throughout gestation to optimize colostrum production. Feeding supplements during late gestation and keeping minerals available year-round ensures your cow herd has the nutrition it needs to produce high-quality colostrum.

Active immunity:

Active immunity is acquired over time when the immune system is triggered to produce antibodies in response to a pathogen.

It is long-lasting and can be acquired through either natural disease exposure or vaccinations.

Following the disease exposure, when the animal encounters the disease again, their immune system will recognize the pathogen and produce antibodies to fight the disease.

Vaccine response is improved when there is quality nutrition to help support the immune system, too.2 In the weaning phase, several vaccinations may be administered.

Consult with your local veterinarian to develop a plan to proactively develop your herd’s active immunity.

Future health:

Supporting innate, passive and active immunity all starts with nutrition during gestation. How you feed the cow can have a lifelong impact on the calf and it’s future health.

A University of Nebraska study evaluated nutrition’s impact on calves born from cows in two different feeding systems during gestation.3 Cows on native range were either provided supplemental nutrition or received no supplemental nutrition during the final trimester of fetal development. Not surprisingly, cows that received supplemental nutrition had better body condition scores at calving.

An interesting finding was the improvement in the calves’ health later in life. The study found the percentage of calves treated with antibiotics from both groups was similar between calving and weaning. However, from weaning to finishing, 12% of calves born from non-supplemented cows were treated with antibiotics compared to 0% of calves treated with antibiotics from cows that were supplemented during late gestation.

The same study compared another set of cows fed crop residue in the last trimester and found similar results. The treatment rate for calves from supplemented cows was 3%, while the treatment rate for calves from non-supplemented cows was 11%.

The study showed quality nutrition positively impacts fetal programming. The results also indicate positively impacting immune system development for calves sets a base for lifelong health.

Lifelong event:

There’s no silver bullet to building a strong immune system. It’s a lifelong journey that takes a combination of sound nutrition and management strategies to develop and maintain.

In conclusion, take steps now to support immunity by limiting stress during weaning, transport and weather changes. Make sure to provide balanced nutrition throughout all phases of life to ensure the immune system is maintained.

Visit Kissimmee Valley Feed to Fortify Lifelong Immunity Through Nutrition.


Ron Scott, Ph.D.,cattle nutritionist for Purina Mills

Closed Labor Day

Friday, August 26th, 2022

Closed Labor DayBoth Kissimmee Valley Feed Locations are closed Labor Day on Monday, September 5th, 2022. Labor Day means a day off for most and the beginning of hunting season!

In conclusion, enjoy spending time with friends and family. We will reopen with our normal hours on Tuesday, September 6th. Stop by before then and stock up on animal supplies, feed and more!

7 Stock Show Preparation Tips

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2022

7 Stock Show Preparation Tips7 Stock Show Preparation Tips: Stock Show Season is around the corner and many students are working with their animals as they prepare for the stock show season. Here are seven tips to consider as you work with your animal.


Watch and control your animals diet.  Inconsistent feeding can lead to problems in consumption and growth.

Always watch your animals diet. 45-30 days out from the show, look to see if your animal on track. Do they  need to gain more weight, loose weight or do you need to hold them? The answers to these questions will help you determine if it’s time to cut back on feed, increase it or introduce supplements to their diet.

Coat Care: 

Your animals coat and skin condition are an important part of their show ring success. Know what the requirements are your animal and make sure they are clipped correctly.

Organization is key!

 Be prepared to answer questions the judges may ask you.  Know your animal’s weight, breed & feed. Once at the show, know your schedule and class.


The time you spend working with your animal now will pay off in the show ring. Be prepared to answer questions on animal care, feeding strategies, weight, and breed  Dress appropriately and neat! Judges look at you as well as the animal. Nice shirts, clean jeans, and belts to hold up those pants. Be polite and respectful.


Each judge is different. Find out who the judge is, the information is available to you via the county extension office or the show rule book. Find out what is important to them. Understand their preferences, do your homework.

Be prepared: 

If you are traveling to an event consider putting together a check-list for you and your animal. What do you need to bring with you and what should you do to get ready? When at the show, make a list of what you should do to prepare you and your animal. Keep all your equipment and show supplies together. A little preparation goes a long way in easing the stress for you and your animal.

Ask questions:

Above all, the road to show ring success is long and requires discipline. You are bound to have a question along the way regarding care and feeding of your animal. Ask questions, it’s the best way to learn. Talk to your Ag teacher, local feed store or county agent, they are wealth of information and are happy to help.

In conclusion, let us help you with Stock Show Preparation! Visit Kissimmee Valley Feed and check out our Show Feed selection. 


Using Mineral As Cost-Effective Health Management

Thursday, August 18th, 2022

Using Mineral As Cost-Effective Health ManagementUsing Mineral As Cost-Effective Health Management: It’s time to think about mineral differently. Mineral can be more than just a way of efficiently delivering nutrition to your herd – it can also be a cost-effective health management tool. Your mineral package can deliver critical trace minerals, vitamins and even additives that work to proactively address costly health issues.

Managing health through mineral is important to any herd’s overall return on investment. Mineral ensures performance is maintained. In extreme cases where nutrition is imbalanced, death can be a side effect, meaning lost potential income. For instance, when phosphorus levels are not adequate, weaning rates suffer. Studies have shown a 25% reduction in calves weaned when no phosphorus is present.1

Several cents per head per week invested in mineral can help combat challenges that can cost thousands. It’s a smart investment.

Use mineral as a value-added tool for:

1. Foot Rot:

Foot rot is an infectious disease leading to swelling between the hoof claws. It is common during wet, muddy periods and can lead to lameness in cattle. When foot rot is prevented it can result in 20% more weight gained during a grazing season.2

The dairy industry has seen how dialing in nutrition can help improve hoof health and limit issues like foot rot. Feeding trace minerals like zinc, iodine, copper and manganese can positively impact hoof health.

Organic iodine, scientifically called ethylenediamine dihydroiodide (EDDI), is a more bioavailable – or readily digestible – form of the mineral. Feeding iodine at or above the National Research Council (NRC) recommended level helps limit foot rot.

Zinc is also beneficial because it aids with skin integrity, which can make it harder for pathogens to breach the skin.

2. Grass tetany:

Cool-season grasses risk being low in available magnesium during spring and fall, causing grass tetany. Symptoms of grass tetany include loss of muscle control, irritability and ultimately coma and death in cattle.

When cool-season grasses are in their key growth periods, potassium can also be higher than normal, causing magnesium to not absorb easily. Compounding the problem of grass tetany is the need for cows to have double the magnesium requirements when lactating, which tends to coincide with calving for both spring and fall calving herds.

A mineral higher in magnesium is a simple way to help prevent grass tetany and meet the needs of lactating females grazing cool-season forages. Provide high magnesium mineral two to three weeks before cattle are first exposed to lush grass to achieve consistent intake before the time of highest risk. Continue feeding for 60 days after the first sign of grass growth.

3. White muscle disease:

When selenium or vitamin E is low in a cows’ diet during gestation, young calves can acquire nutritional myodegeneration (NMD), commonly referred to as white muscle disease. Calves born with low selenium or vitamin E levels suffering from white muscle disease can have two types: a congenital version and a delayed response version.

The congenital version of NMD impacts the heart and is fatal in most cases, with calves dying in a few days. The delayed response version results in weak calves that can’t stand, but can be remedied with injectable selenium and vitamin E when calves exhibit symptoms.

Fortunately, white muscle disease is avoidable with balanced nutrition. If soil selenium levels are low, feeding higher selenium levels is recommended, especially during gestation. Testing forages for selenium levels and other nutrients, particularly if you are in regions like the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes, is a good idea to get a baseline of your mineral needs.

4. Urinary calculi:

Male cattle can develop kidney stones or urinary calculi when there is an inverted calcium:phosphorus ratio in the diet. Urinary calculi can happen when feeding higher levels of distillers’ grains or grazing forages that are high in phosphates.

A balanced mineral program helps reduce the risk of urinary calculi by providing the correct calcium:phosphorus ratio.

Get extra benefits from additives:

Minerals can also be a convenient way to deliver additives that support the health of your herd.

Fly control:

Controlling flies means that those flies are less able to bite and stress your cattle. Reducing flies benefits the immune system because cattle don’t devote nutrients to fighting and avoiding flies.

An insect growth regulator (IGR) in mineral can help to limit horn flies. Purina® Wind and Rain® Fly Control mineral contains Altosid® IGR, which inhibits the horn fly life cycle in the manure by stopping pupae from developing into biting adult flies.


The risk of bloat is common when grazing lush grasses during the early part of the grazing season. Ionophores added to mineral can help relieve bloat. Mineral intake is also key to increasing ionophore intake and limiting bloat when forage is lush. If the mineral isn’t palatable, cattle won’t consume the needed ionophore.

In conclusion, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach for addressing all the issues that arise with herd management. Visit Kissimmee Valley Feed to determine the appropriate formulation for Using Mineral As Cost-Effective Health Management.


Kent Tjardes, Ph.D., cattle nutritionist for Purina Mills


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