Archive for the ‘Cattle’ Category

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

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

Considerations for This Growing Season

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

Considerations for This Growing Season cows in pasture with KVF logoConsiderations for this growing season: Applying fertilizer to pastures and fields is important to maximize yield and forage quality. But with fertilizer prices higher than normal around the country, you can take steps to manage costs and still make a big impact. To help justify applying fertilizer this year, have your soil analyzed. You can save yourself a lot of money if you already have the correct nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium and potassium levels in your soil. If the soil lacks just one of those nutrients, focus on the single nutrient instead of all nutrients when fertilizing. Also, don’t overlook manure as a fertilizer. Look to your drylots as a source of extra soil nutrients to spread across pastures, or purchase poultry litter if it is available locally.

How can I manage my mineral feeders to optimize intake?
Mineral in a feeder isn’t doing anyone any good if cattle aren’t eating it. Feeder placement and management are key to optimizing intake and your return on investment.
Here are my top three tips for managing mineral feeders:

1) Move mineral sites to enhance grazing.

When first putting mineral out, especially during hot temperatures, place mineral tubs or feeders near loafing areas, water sources and shade. Once cattle start consuming mineral consistently, you can spread mineral locations out further into the pasture. If you have undergrazed pasture areas, you can move the mineral sites to those areas to help guide cattle to graze there.

You’ll also get better pasture utilization by putting distance between mineral feeders and other self-fed products or hay sources, since cattle will graze along the path between them. However, you should keep at least 100 yards (about the size of a football field) between products to avoid creating a “buffet line” situation where cattle just hop from one product to the next and possibly increasing consumption.

Also consider environmental conditions for mineral placement. If you are in an area with frequent rain, consider moving mineral sites to avoid mud build-up and to ensure consistent access.

2) Know how many feeders and how much mineral you need.

Having enough mineral feeding sites is critical to meeting all your herd’s needs. One 250 lb. Purina® Wind and Rain®mineral tub generally serves 25-30 head. Loose mineral tends to average 30-50 head per mineral feeder, but always double-check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

I also recommend checking mineral feeders 2-3 times a week, depending on how many cattle you have in each grazing paddock, to ensure feeders aren’t tipped over and make sure cattle don’t run out of mineral.

On average, a mineral tub will last about ten days per 50 cows. A rule of thumb for loose mineral is two bags per cow per year, or 4 ounces per head per day. And don’t forget about calves when calculating mineral needs. Young calves near weaning will, and should, consume mineral. Calves will add about 2 ounces per head per day to what the cow eats, bringing the total for the cow/calf pair to 6 ounces per pair per day.

3) Choose a mineral feeder that works for your environment.

As long as you have enough mineral sites, any mineral feeder will work – wooden, metal, plastic tubs, non-traditional feeders, etc. It all comes down to what will work best for you based on environmental conditions.

Wooden feeders will break down quicker under rain or inclement weather, and metal feeders are prone to rust. A cover or placing feeders under shelter can help extend the life of your feeders.

Reused Purina® plastic tubs or plastic barrels cut in half hold up better but do have some considerations for water drainage. I recommend putting holes in the bottom of tubs with a 9/64″ drill bit to allow water drainage. Placing rocks under the feeder will also help prevent it from sticking tightly to the ground, allowing water to drain better. If you’re worried about cattle knocking over the tubs, placing them in a truck tire works nicely.

Another consideration for choosing a mineral feeder is height. Cattle should be able to reach the bottom and the middle of the feeder. If it’s too tall, intake will be limited, especially for yearling animals or calves on pasture.

Kissimmee Valley Feed can help you with other considerations for this growing season. Visit us! We are open Mon-Fri: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm and Sat: 8:00 am – 2:00 pm at our Main Store at 1501 Eastern Ave. You can also contact us by phone at 407-957-4100. We are open Mon-Fri: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sat: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at Store #2 at 215 13th Street. You can contact us by phone at 407-892-4040.

Source: Elizabeth Belew, Ph.D. cattle nutritionist

Best Practices for Managing 4 Types of Forage

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

Managing 4 Types of Forage : cows in pastureBest practices for managing 4 types of forage: Capitalize on your forage management to optimize cattle nutrition.

 Each forage type comes with its own challenges and management considerations. And, honing in forage management can help support cattle nutrition needs – and your bottom line.

Take advantage of these best practices for each of the four different forage types

 Cool Season Forages: 

Fescue is the dominant forage in the U.S. because it’s a hardy forage that can stand up to grazing pressure. However, it doesn’t come without challenges. The predominant fescue variety comes with the risk of endophyte toxicity. Endophyte toxicity occurs when livestock consume fungal endophytes present in the seed head of grass. Fungal endophytes contain ergot alkaloids that can be detrimental to livestock, causing lower feed intake, reduced weight gain and decreased fertility.

 An easy method to manage endophytes in fescue is to clip the grass using a tractor-pulled mower before the grass heads out. You can also manage endophytes by inter-seeding legumes like grazing alfalfas, white clover and red clover. These legumes provide additional forage sources and offset the risk of endophytes. Legumes also benefit overall pasture health by providing nitrogen fixation for the soil and extending the grazing season.

 With any cool season forage, whether it be fescue, brome or another grass, watch out for grass tetany during the early spring flush. Feeding a mineral high in magnesium, like Purina® Wind and Rain® Hi-Mag, can help supplement your herd.

Warm Season Forages: 

There are many options to graze cattle effectively with warm season forages, from improved forages in the southern U.S. like Bahiagrass and Bermudagrass to the native tall grass and short grass ranges to the west. Warm season grasses tend to take off when cool season grasses lose productivity. If you have access to both warm and cool season forages, you’ve got a complementary program.

The biggest challenge with warm season forage is stocking density. Warm season forages typically can’t support the same grazing pressure as cool season forages. Maintain moderate stocking densities for your area and use a rotational grazing system that moves cattle from grazed to rested pasture. If your pastures are too large to fence for rotational grazing, consider using mineral or supplement sites to maximize forage use. Cattle will seek the pasture for minerals and supplements, which you can use to your advantage.

Another challenge with warm season forages is that stem growth tends to outrun leaf growth as the growing season continues. When the stem-to-leaf ratio gets too far out of line, forage quality drops because there are more carbohydrates and less protein and energy. Keep supplemental nutrient sources available to cattle on warm season pasture to ensure their nutrient needs are met throughout the grazing season. Purina® Accuration® block or Purina® RangeLand® protein tubs, along with minerals, can help extend the grazing season and make best use of forages.

Cover Crops: 

It’s been trendy the last few years to use mixes of cover crops like turnips, forage sorghums, rye and clover to get more grazing from crop fields. But, grazing systems with mono-crops have existed for a lot longer. Wheat pasture, for instance, has been used to grow calves and maintain cow herds before the grain crop goes to head. Sudangrass has made efficient summertime grazing, too.

An important factor in grazing any forage, particularly cover crops, is to have mineral available year-round. Cover crops might be the lushest forage your herd has all year, but cattle may not fully utilize it. Offering mineral helps maintain an animal’s rumen microbes, which in turn impacts forage utilization and feed efficiency.

Much like traditional perennial cool season grasses, you should feed a high-magnesium mineral in the spring and fall due to grass tetany risk. Bloat can also be a concern in lush cover crops. Feeding a mineral with an ionophore, like Purina®Wind and Rain® minerals, or keeping bloat guard blocks at the mineral site can help.

Monitor nitrate and prussic acid poisoning when using cover crops containing forage sorghums, Sudangrass, millet and green grazed corn, or even if field edges have Johnson grass. Have fields tested, especially if forages get too far ahead of cattle before or during grazing. Drought years also increase concern for nitrates since the stalks of those stemmy plants naturally hold more nitrates when dry.

Hay & Silage: 

Stored forages help extend forage use throughout the year, and both hay and silage have their unique places in beef cattle rations.

Silage quality is particularly important, whether the forage is fed to weaned calves or mature cows. Harvest silage when it’s at its peak for protein and energy to maximize quality rather than yield. Once harvested, storage should be your next emphasis. Focus on packing silage piles tight, using an inoculant to reduce mycotoxins, and covering piles to prevent spoilage.

Also focus on hay quality. The term “cow-quality hay” is often used to describe poorer quality forages used to feed beef cows. Yes, you can feed fibrous, low-quality hay to cows, but you’re likely going to need more supplementation to keep them in an adequate body condition score 6. Putting up good-quality hay to start helps reduce the need to feed as much supplement.

 Before you start feeding hay or silage, pull samples for testing. A forage test helps determine protein and energy levels. With those levels as your baseline, you can determine the amount of supplement needed to support your herd. If everything goes perfectly, you may only need to feed mineral to balance the ration. Connect with your Purina® dealer to work on a forage management plan.

Kissimmee Valley Feed can help you to develop the Best practices for managing 4 types of forage. Visit us! We are open Mon-Fri: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm and Sat: 8:00 am – 2:00 pm at our Main Store at 1501 Eastern Ave. You can also contact us by phone at 407-957-4100. We are open Mon-Fri: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sat: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at Store #2 at 215 13th Street. You can contact us by phone at 407-892-4040.

Source: Ted Perry, Purina Cattle Nutritionist

Cattle Mineral Tips for Spring

Friday, March 11th, 2022

Cattle Mineral Tips for SpringCattle Mineral Tips for Spring: As winter shifts to spring, it’s time to take a look at cattle management. Specifically, your cattle mineral program. Make sure cattle management, and cattle mineral, reflect the season to help keep cattle performing year-round.

Quick, timely considerations for your Purina cattle mineral program:

  • It can be tough getting cattle to eat mineral when grass is green and lush. Have one cattle mineral feeder for every 20 to 30 head. You can also use a complete cattle mineral or mineral tub to encourage consumption.
  • Ensure cattle receive enough magnesium to prevent grass tetany. Consider using Wind and Rain® Storm® Hi Mag Cattle Mineral.
  • Spring grass typically has the highest phosphorus level of the growing season. Mineral sources of phosphorus and magnesium are bitter and can reduce palatability. Consider using a high-magnesium cattle mineral with a lower phosphorus level to improve intake.
  • Global vitamin A production issues have caused prices to rise considerably over the past few months. However, vitamin A is very important for reproduction, so it’s critical to avoid a deficiency. Green, leafy forages tend to be a good source of vitamin A. Wind and Rain® Storm® Hi Mag Cattle Mineral contains a low level of vitamin A to complement lush grass.
  • Get a jump start on fly control. Start using Wind and Rain® Storm® Fly Control Cattle Mineral 30 days before the last frost and continue through fly season.

Check out Kissimmee Valley Feed’s full Cattle Feed and Supplies Selection. In addition, Try Purina® minerals today through the Feed Greatness Challenge.

Article Source: Kent Tjardes, Ph.D., Field Cattle Consultant for Purina Mills


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