Herd health depends on variables

By Gary Sliworsky
Ag rep, Emo

As with other living organisms, morbidity and mortality also occurs in cattle.
During the production year, the mortality for cattle operations ranges from one-five percent.
A combination of factors involving cattle susceptibility, the environment, and the presence of a disease agent is necessary for disease to occur. As such, producers need to manage their animals to reduce or prevent the incidence of disease.
And if disease should occur, they must consider how to treat the animal.
A herd health program that addresses the prevention and treatment of disease depends on the type of beef cattle operation it is designed to serve. There will be differences between cow-calf and stocker operations, and possibly regional differences caused by environmental factors.
While there can be differences between types of operations, the health program should be part of the total cattle management program, incorporating facility design and all feeding, reproduction, handling, and transportation practices.
Every producer should have a licensed veterinarian help design and implement a herd health program. The veterinarian also can provide product and management options.
Many practices and procedures used in beef production, such as vaccination, castration, dehorning, pregnancy diagnosis, and artificial insemination, often are performed by producers.
However, only licensed veterinarians should perform invasive surgery or administer restricted vaccines.
To be effective, pharmaceutical and parasite control products used to prevent or treat disease must be administered according to the label directions. This includes directions for storage of the product, sanitation practices required in its use, and dosage and method of administration.
Whenever possible, sick or injured cattle should be held in separate pens while receiving treatment. This isolates them from healthy animals and reduces the transmission of disease.
It also can reduce stress.
If antibiotics are used in the treatment, the type and amount used should be noted for each animal. Herd health records of vaccination and parasite treatments should be kept on all animals to monitor disease prevention.
A record of all antibiotics used should be kept to avoid excessive medication and stress in sick animals.
Records are an integral part of a quality assurance program to ensure the wholesomeness of beef products.