Spring rains have filled the ponds and saturated the ground in many pastures. As the temperatures heat up, cattle will start to congregate around or in the ponds or other standing water. One of the challenges that cattle producers may face this summer is the occasional lame cow or yearling. “Foot rot” is a common cause of lameness in beef cattle on pastures. Foot rot is an infection that starts between the toes of the infected animal and usually is a result of the introduction of a bacteria through broken skin. The infection causes pain and the resulting lameness. The lameness can cause decreases in weight gain of young cattle, milk production decline of adult cows and lame bulls will be reluctant to breed. 

Treatment of foot rot can be successful when the treatment is started early in the disease process. Most cases require the use of systemic antimicrobial therapy. Your local large animal veterinarian will advise you on recommended antibiotics and dosages for your situation. Severely infected animals that do not respond to initial treatments will need to be re-evaluated by the veterinarian and more involved treatments may be required to salvage the animal. There are other causes of lameness. Therefore a proper diagnosis is important before treatment begins.

Preventative measures revolve around prevention of mechanical damage to the foot. Recently brush-hogged weeds or brush stubble will often be very sharp and cut the skin between the toes allowing the entrance of the infective bacteria. If possible, avoid forcing cattle to spend long periods of time standing in very wet lots or pastures. Utilizing a good mineral program that contains the micro minerals zinc, selenium, and copper will aid in disease prevention. A three year study in Kansas has shown that zinc methionine added to a free choice mineral supplement reduced the incidence of foot rot in steers grazing summer pasture. 

Because cattle inflicted with foot rot are commonly treated with antibiotics, it is critical that producers follow their veterinarian’s instructions and label directions precisely. Because these are individual treatment incidences, ranchers may tend to neglect to keep the proper records of the treatments. Record the date, the dosage, route of administration, the lot number of the antibiotic given and the person giving the treatment. Then observe the drug withdrawal times completely before marketing the animals that have been treated. 

Score of 6 (moderate flesh) at calving time. If calf diarrhea is a significant cause of loss and expense, visit with your large animal veterinarian about other management changes that may help. Pre-calving vaccinations of the cows may be recommended in some cases. 

Do you use the same trap or pasture each year for calving? There may be a buildup of bacteria or viruses that contribute to calf diarrhea in that pasture. This particular calving pasture may need a rest for the upcoming calving season. Plus it is always a good idea to get new calves and their mothers out of the calving pasture as soon as they can be moved comfortably to a new pasture to get them away from other potential calf scour organisms. An excellent discussion of a method used to reduce calf diarrhea is available from the University of Nebraska website. Go to this link: http://beef.unl.edu/beefreports/symp-2007-17-xx.shtml online and learn more about the Nebraska Sandhill method of reducing calf scours. 

Thanks to Dr. Kris Ringwall of North Dakota State University for this excellent suggestion to study the calf records now and start to make adjustments.

Being strategic about heifer retention

Working as an ag economist in NE Oklahoma, it is unavoidable to have the discussion about retaining or purchasing replacements. I have read a million articles and run another million calculations trying to come up with an answer. That answer is predictably, it depends. In this case I find it really does depend. It depends on forage availability, herd size, genetic access, price, and management expectations on top of many more variables. But is there something out there that is more strategic than just buying or keeping replacements when needed? The short answer is yes.

Historically we have observed the cattle cycles. This is our expansion and liquidation of cow numbers over a period of about 10 years on average. The beginning of our current cycle started in 2014 when we reached a low point and started to expand our numbers again. Our cycles are generally a response to price. When prices are high, everyone is encouraged to raise more cattle, and vice versa at low prices. Knowing this, we have an option to swing this into our favor.

One strategy is to do the bulk of our heifer retention when we are at the peak inventory point in the cattle cycle. This requires us to work against what our gut tells us. That is, retain when the markets are sluggish. The reason for this practice is threefold. First, one of the major costs in heifer retention is the amount of revenue that is not realized due to keeping her. At this point, this cost is at or near its low point. Second, this female should be at her productive peak when calf prices have rebounded at the end of the cycle. Lastly, we should be able to slow our heifer retention when prices are at their peak and sell as many head as possible. This allowing us to really cash in when prices are high. We do need to work out a cash flow issue if this strategy is pursued. Debt obligations and family withdrawals still need to be met. Many times, we are looking to sell as many head as possible in low price years to meet those demands. We need to develop a plan to maintain our working capital as this strategy is being incorporated.

Just like the best play call in football can be followed by a receiver dropping a pass or a line drive rocket can find itself in the outstretched glove of the diving shortstop, the best plays don’t work out all the time. The likelihood of us pegging the position of the cycle exactly is slim. Still, we should be able to put ourselves in a position that is closer than not. There are many signals currently that suggest the expansion of the cowherd is nearing its end so it could be time to start getting a plan together. For more information in heifer retention management and strategies, contact your local ag educator.

4-H’ers gain knowledge of how Oklahoma government works

The Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development program is well known for providing hands-on learning experiences for its members. Recently, a group of 4-H’ers spent the day at the Oklahoma Capitol Building learning not only how the state’s government works, but also getting one-on-one time with their senators and representatives sharing the impact 4-H has statewide.

Oklahoma 4-H was represented by 128 club members from 49 counties in the 22nd Annual 4-H Day at the Capitol where the youth got to see first-hand what they have learned in their government classes in school. Participating from Payne County was Raphael Wall, member of Perkins 4-H; Lillie Snider, member of Twin Mounds 4-H; Audrey Ochsner, member of Heritage 4-H and Sarah Walker, member of Leaders of Tomorrow.

Cathleen Taylor, state leadership and citizenship specialist with the State 4-H Office at Oklahoma State University, said not only is this a learning opportunity for the club members, it also gives state leaders a chance to learn first-hand more about 4-H and OSU Cooperative Extension.

“Some of our governmental officials weren’t in 4-H when they were younger, so this is a great opportunity for our state leaders to hear first-hand about the positive impact 4-H has on Oklahoma’s youth,” Taylor said.

Gov. Kevin Stitt was glad to have the group at the capitol. “4-H is a great organization and it’s fantastic for them to visit and learn how laws are made,” Stitt said. “These are our future leaders - I want them to dream big and I want to inspire them.”

Damona Doye, associate vice president, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, addressed the group and said they would have many opportunities throughout their lives to be engaged in civic experiences.

“I encourage you to run for sheriff or governor and be involved in civic activities. What you’re doing in 4-H is laying the groundwork for what you’ll do in the future,” Doye said. “4-H Day at the Capitol is a great opportunity to share your passion with our state leaders.”

Former 4-H’er, Rep. John Pfeiffer, Deputy Floor Leader, said he learned so much as a club member.

“It’s amazing the life skills you learn in 4-H,” Pfeiffer said. “4-H is a unifying organization and you’ll continue to run into your fellow club members throughout your life.”

While at the Capitol, the group has an opportunity to visit both the House and Senate Galleries where a proclamation was read declaring April 17 at 4-H Day at the Capitol. In addition, Trent Gibbs, Stephens County 4-H’er and president of the State Leadership Council, and J’Kai Johnson of Langston 4-H, spoke on the House and Senate Floor.

To help legislators gain a better understanding of what 4-H’ers are doing across the state, the club members were able to eat lunch with their respective senators and representatives.

Freshman Rep. Trish Ranson, Payne County, said she learned a lot from talking to club members from her district during lunch.

“Sarah Walker, the student I spoke with, has grown up in the program and has benefited greatly from it,” Ranson said. “I’m a firm believer in a student program that engages kids and gets them plugged into activities that will grow their citizenship for the greater good of the community.”

Jackson County 4-H’er and State 4-H Ambassador Tori Booker, said she enjoys taking part in 4-H Day at the Capitol.

“I enjoy not only getting to meet with my legislators, but other legislators across the state,” Booker said. “Capitol Day is important because citizenship is one of the main pillars of 4-H and it shows club members how to become civically active and how to stay engaged in their communities.”

Austin Rankin, Woods County 4-H’er and reporter on the State Leader Council, said 4-H Day at the Capitol is an opportunity to educate state leaders on the impact 4-H has on communities across the state.

“My favorite part of the day is seeing our representative and senators at work. This day is so important to 4-H because it helps ensure ongoing support for 4-H, and also helps educating our senators and legislators what Oklahoma 4-H is doing for our communities, our state, our country and our world.”

Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur was on hand to close out the day with the youth. “This is such a great opportunity for our youth to let our senators and representatives know what is going on in 4-H around the state,” Arthur said. “Having that one-on-one dialogue with the 4-H’ers from their particular county or district is important. They learn a lot about what our 4-H’ers are doing and it’s an opportunity to highlight the caliber of 4-H members we have in the program.” For more information about Payne County 4-H, contact the Extension Office at 405-747-8320.


2019 Payne County Pasture & Livestock Tour

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.


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