Wanted: Cow-Calf Health Information

Have you ever wondered how your management practices compare with other ranchers? If so, you can turn to the periodic studies from the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS), a program within the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). 

NAHMS conducted its first cow-calf survey in 1993, to provide baseline information and track trends in health and management. The program completed additional cow-calf studies in 1997 and 2007/08. This fall, NAHMS is engaged in its Beef 2017 study, seeking insights on how the cow-calf industry has changed over the past 10 years. 

APHIS veterinary epidemiologist Chuck Fossler, DVM, leads the team conducting the Beef 2017 study. He says NAHMS researchers will invite a random sample of cow-calf producers from 24 states to voluntarily participate, beginning this month. A second interview will follow in 2018. 

The researchers offer a couple of attractive and valuable incentives. Producers who participate in both interviews will be eligible to conduct testing on their entire spring calf crop for persistent infection of bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) and to submit a forage sample for nutrient analysis.

Importantly, Fossler notes, all participation in the Beef 2017 study is voluntary and the data from the individual producers is confidential and reported only in an aggregate summary form. 

For comparison and identification of trends,most questions in the 2017 survey are similar to those asked in 2007. The survey will cover some new ground to match current production issues, such as the use of remote-delivery darts for treating cattle, preconditioning programs and overall nutrition. Antibiotic use will be discussed, including use of chlortetracycline in minerals. Lastly, questions about the veterinarian-client-patient relationships (VCPR) will be discussed. 

Weaning practices

As researchers begin the 2017 survey, consider these key management trends. How does your operation compare?

Producers vaccinating for BRD

Most producers observed heifers and cows regularly during calving (92.7% and 89%, respectively). The majority of cows and heifers (95%) required no assistance at calving. Two-thirds of calves (65.8%) born in 2007 were born in the first four months of the year.

You can learn more about the NAHMS program at www.aphis.usda.gov/nahms.  

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