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Spring Labor Saving Tips for Cattlemen

By Dr. Larry Goelz

Spring is a busy time of the year with beef cows calving and corn planting around the corner.  One of the best parts of being a Veterinarian is learning about the innovative ways some of our client find to save time and labor.  Take a look at these labor saving tips picked up from some of our clients.  You might find a way to make the spring a bit more enjoyable and certainly less stressful.

  1. Buy an electric fence voltage tester. They make testing and finding shorts in electric fences more labor efficient.  Better yet buy two and give one to your kid, spouse or hired man.  You might just find a way to pawn the job off on someone else.
  2. Consider drive through electric gates. As long as the fence is hot they are well respected by cattle and save time opening and closing gates.
  3. ID newborn calves to cow. Many producers tag their calves with the same number as the cow to easily determine if a young calf is sick or if it has recently suckled.
  4. Give respiratory and blackleg vaccines to young calves. Inforce 3 (internasal IBR, PI3 and BRSV) has a good immune response in young calves and Alpha 7 is a great blackleg vaccine for young calves.  Many of our clients do these prior to leaving the calving pen and thus eliminate vaccination at traditional “branding” time in June.
  5. Use salt or mineral blocks to move cows.  Placing them by the gate will encourage cows and calf to naturally congregate in the area.  When you need to move the cows they will find the open gate earlier.
  6. Store unused cornstalks bales under a tarp or in a shed.  They keep great over summer if they are keep out of the rain.
  7. Consider Rabon or Clarify in your salt or mineral for fly control.  It does not get absorbed and kills the horn fly larvae in the fecal mat (cow pie).  It needs to be fed continuously so keep checking the salt/mineral throughout the summer.
  8. A dead animal is worth a lot.  A simple necropsy (post-mortem) exam often yields information that is beneficial to the rest of the herd and can often stop problems before they turn into disasters.
  9. Consider feed grade Pulmotil for high risk incoming feeder calves.  This can minimize respiratory treatment in the first three weeks and save time pulling and treating calves.
  10. Look into purchasing a calving barn camera.  The technology has greatly improved over the past ten years and the resolution is great even in dim light.  These can be accessed by your television or a smart phone.


For questions during the calving season, call Pipestone Veterinary Services at 507.825.4211.

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