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Spring turnout to the pasture is a good time for producers to review their cow-calf health management plans, according to North Dakota State University Extension livestock experts.
They note that a number of factors can impact cow-calf health, including slow grass growth and moisture conditions that may delay grazing readiness and result in prolonged feeding. Other factors are cooler, wet conditions that create a variety of challenges for young livestock, particularly for those in dry lots or areas with high concentrations of livestock.
“The passive transfer of immunity from the dam is dependent on the availability of high-quality colostrum containing adequate levels of antibodies, as well as protein, energy, vitamins and minerals,” says Janna Block, Extension livestock systems specialist at NDSU’s Hettinger Research Extension Center. “Environmental stress at the time of birth, combined with low-quality feedstuffs, may have reduced the quality and quantity of colostrum available to newborn calves.”
Colostrum is a form of milk that cows produce in late pregnancy. It contains energy, protein, fat, vitamins and antibodies to protect newborns against disease until their own immune system is functional.
The environmental and feed quality issues related to colostrum, nursing and passive transfer of immunity create an increased risk for bacteria and other pathogens that can cause scours and other health conditions even beyond the first few months of life.
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“In addition to managing current health problems, producers need to start thinking forward to health insurance programs