Herd Health

You will need to study your beef cattle Herd Health and learn to spot an obviously sick animal and then diagnose what cause it to get sick in the first place.

     Quite often an acutely sick animal will have been quite ill before the signs were noticed by the stockman. This cause other animals in the herd to be fighting off the same health problem and may be causing their to production levels to be going downhill. This is why you will need to develop an experienced eye towards detecting disease within your beef cattle herd. The quicker it is spotted and treated the better off you and your her will be.

     Even though you are not expected to have the skills of a veterinarian you as an individual owner or stockman in charge of the herd must still accept full responsibility for your herd health program. This means that you alone must possess or quickly develop the skills of observation and management ability for the first line of defense to ward off any major health disasters. It almost goes without saying that you can afford a considerable amount of time to develop these skills. You will profit from it.

     One major factor in herd health is the ability to identify each animal individually, this is fundamental to any herd health program. Each animal should be marked by ear tags, brand or some other visible identification method. The next step to follow would be good records to be kept based upon these identities. This will allow you to develop a herd health history on each animal and occasionally previous health issues may warrant culling. Without a herd health history you could easily miss this part.

     A good practice is to set up a planned program to help protect the herd health. Some of the items might be vaccination, castration, isolation, sanitation and herd replacements done on a systemized organized basis. Each replacement might be quarantined away from the rest of the herd for a given period of time before putting them together.

     For sure it will be necessary to control or eliminate disease before it becomes a major problem. This will require the use of all the tools mentioned above in the fight for your herd health and at the same time remembering they are tools to be used at the right time and in the right place.

     You will need to know the capabilities and limitations of animal drugs and learn how to administer them properly. Be sure to follow the labeled use restrictions unless instructed otherwise by your veterinarian.

     You will need the proper equipment and facilities for handling and treating your beef cattle. This will reduce time and labor requirements to administer a herd health program and both you and the herd will benefit.

     We are also told that the number one cause for most disease problems or bad herd health is a lack of nutrition. We must do our best to see that our animals are fed at the level needed for maximum performance of the job expected from them.

     And last but not least, remember your veterinarian. Use him when needed but use him wisely and economically.