Archive for the ‘Cattle’ Category

12 Calving Season Essentials

Wednesday, January 4th, 2023

12 Calving Season Essentials12 Calving Season Essentials:

Start planning early for a seamless calving season.

Now’s the time to plan for spring calving and/or fall calving. Make sure you have a reliable team, including a trusted veterinarian on speed-dial.

Prepare a dedicated calving area with ample space that’s clean, dry and protected from the elements. And, stock up on these spring calving and fall calving season essentials.


Protect newborn calves during calving season from disease-causing pathogens with a clean, dry environment.


Calving season can be a messy business, be ready to clean it up.


Work with your vet to create or refine a spring calving or fall calving protocol for your operation.


Keep these supplies on hand in case you need to pull a calf.


Avoid having to pick up tools or equipment from soiled bedding.


Use a new pair every time.


Nothing fancy required. Get the job done with non-detergent soap and warm water.


There’s no such thing as too many records, be ready on day one.


Add a spare tagger for good measure.


Protect calves from the elements during extra cold winter weather.


Ensure calves get the nutrition they need if the weather’s especially harsh, or if they can’t nurse their dam.


Keep extra hats and gloves handy in case there’s unexpected cold weather.

Just like a well-planned calving season can support calf performance down the road, a balanced cow nutrition program can support breeding performance for years to come.

Don’t put cow nutrition on the back burner during calving season. Providing cows with the proper mineral now can pay dividends next year.

Feed a high-quality mineral year-round to build up mineral stores and prepare cows to breed back quickly. Consider a source with Availa 4® organic trace minerals, like Purina® Wind and Rain® Mineral to support cow nutrition. Visit a Kissimmee Valley Feed for all your calving needs.

Your Keys to Fall Calving

Tuesday, November 15th, 2022

Your Keys to Fall CalvingYour Keys to Fall Calving: Cattle condition and comfort are your keys to fall calving.

Spring calving season may be more common, but if you’re a fall calving operation, you know the warmer, dryer weather conditions and the seasonal high calf prices that tend to hit at weaning can yield greater results.

Yet, fall calving doesn’t come without its challenges. Preparation now means mitigating those challenges – including high temperatures and unpredictable forages – and getting calves started quicker to realize optimal cost-efficient growth.

Follow these steps this summer to gain more value from your herd in the fall:

 Set cows up for success

 It can be difficult to keep cattle in ideal body condition for the fall calving season. Pastures are transitioning from quality grasses with active growth to more mature grasses going dormant, causing energy and protein quality to decline.

With a target body condition score of six at calving, taking scores 60-90 days before calving begins allows time to change the nutrition plan if needed. Purina® RangeLand® protein supplement tubs and Purina® Accuration® Hi-Fat blocks are good options that provide extra protein and energy; they also support digestion and utilization of low-quality forage.

Remember, heifers and first-calf cows haven’t yet reached maturity during gestation. They are still growing while raising a calf, making their energy requirements higher than mature cows. Separate your herd to provide heifers and first-calf cows with a higher energy diet to be at peak performance during calving.

Fight menacing flies

Fly season may start in spring, but a strong fly control program is just as critical during fall calving season.

Flies can be a significant detriment to cattle health and performance. Horn flies carry Staphylococcus aureus, a major cause of mastitis. They can also cause damage to the udder and teats, lowering milk production.

To limit horn flies, start feeding Purina® Wind and Rain® Fly Control mineral in the spring, 30 days before flies emerge, when the daily temps average 65°F and keep feeding until 30 days after the first frost in the fall.

When it isn’t fly season, provide your herd a balanced mineral year-round using Purina® Wind and Rain® mineral. A quality mineral optimizes cows’ milk production and supports fertility and fetal development – all vital in the winter months when your cows are raising calves and getting rebred for the next season.

Combat soaring temperatures

 Higher temperatures during fall calving make water supply a top concern. During the hottest days of the year, cattle typically drink two gallons of water per 100 pounds of body weight. Adequate, clean, accessible water is a must. Allowing for two or more inches of linear space per head has been shown to decrease heat stress in cattle.

As calves start drinking water, it’s essential for water sources to be at an appropriate height. In addition, to have enough water flow. Cows typically drink first, with calves following. If the sides of the waterer are too high or the water doesn’t refill quickly, calves may not have access to water that is needed to prevent dehydration and keep their bodies cool.

Shade or shelter is another vital consideration for hot days. Trees, buildings or portable structures are all adequate sources of protection from the sun’s intense heat. Placing water tanks in shaded areas also ensures cool water for the herd.

Ready for reproduction

 You can’t be prepared for all surprises that can occur during the fall calving season. Still, making sure your herd is in peak condition, providing access to necessities, and having essential supplies on hand can help ensure calves hit the ground running.

Visit Kissimmee Valley Feed to learn Your Keys to Fall Calving. Check out our cattle feeds here.

Source: Wes Hornback, Cattle Technical Specialist, Purina Mills

The True Cost of Cheap Minerals

Thursday, October 20th, 2022

The True Cost of Cheap Minerals: Quality mineral supplements are an investment in the overall performance of your herd.The True Cost of Cheap Minerals: Quality mineral supplements are an investment in the overall performance of your herd.

Balance and bioavailability

Balance is key when it comes to minerals; more is not always better when choosing a supplement. Minerals compete for absorption when digested in the small intestine. If cattle consume too much of one mineral, it could prevent absorption of other minerals, eliminating benefits to the animal and wasting the money you invested in a mineral supplement.

When selecting a mineral supplement, be sure to consider the ingredients’ bioavailability. Bioavailability refers to the percentage of mineral cattle can absorb or use. Some mineral supplements may contain sufficient levels of the required minerals. However not in a form cattle can utilize. Sometimes, these ingredients are used. They are cheap. Although they provide little or no nutrition to your herd. Generally speaking, organic minerals are more bioavailable. In addition, provide enhanced gut absorption

Not all minerals are created equal

With input costs rising, you may be looking for a lower-cost alternative to a complete mineral program by choosing a trace mineral block. While trace mineral blocks have a lower price tag than a complete mineral supplement, it’s important to be aware of the tradeoff you might be taking with this type of product.

First, trace mineral blocks don’t contain the macro minerals essential to cattle production, like phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Additionally, trace mineral blocks are often virtually all salt. A block may be 96-99% salt, depending on the product. Due to the high salt content, cattle can’t consume enough of the block to meet their trace mineral requirements.

Aside from intake, trace mineral blocks tend to utilize less bioavailable ingredients to keep cost low. Meaning, not only is mineral content diluted by salt, but the form of the mineral is virtually unavailable for absorption, both of which can compromise animal performance.

Often, a simple snapshot of your herd doesn’t reveal how much a cheap mineral supplement can really cost you. Minerals are the precursors to cattle performance, facilitating every process in the body. High-quality mineral influences high-quality performance. Production traits such as fertility, disease resistance, feed intake and muscle development depend on proper minerals in cattle’s diet.

Get the most bang for your buck

Getting the most impact from your investment is a top priority for any cattle operation. One way to ensure your mineral supplement is working efficiently and effectively for your herd is to track consumption rates. We can walk you through how to track consumption in your herd. Most Purina® minerals are formulated for four ounces of consumption per cow per day.

Once you know consumption rate, you can help alter mineral intake levels by moving mineral feeders. When feeders sit close to areas where cattle spend most of their time, they can consume more than the target amount out of boredom. If cattle consume too much of a mineral supplement, move feeders away from water sources and loafing areas. If consumption is below target, move feeders closer to these areas, or provide additional feeders to allow more access for cattle.

The domino effect

Poor mineral nutrition can contribute to poor cattle performance. Mineral deficiencies can lead to a cascade of events such as more open cows, higher sickness rates, more spread-out calving season and lower weaning weights. Don’t let these issues domino and compound. They lead to a loss of profit on your operation.

Talk to us about what a complete mineral program should look like for your herd. Check out our cattle feeds by clicking here. Ask our knowledgeable staff about The True Cost of Cheap Minerals!

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


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February 2023
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