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Minerals & Vaccines

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Finding the right minerals make the difference.

Develop grazing systems that optimize profitability

The correct mix of minerals can help solve many of your herd's health problems.   Cattle need copper to keep a healthy coat and maintain high breeding and a good immune system.
If there is an imbalance of minerals in your cattle's diet, it can hamper growth and cause calves to get sick and even die by weakening their immune systems.
Deficiencies often show up in calves as low immune function.  Copper, selenium and zinc are all part of the enzymes that go toward making immune systems work.   Low levels of these minerals may lead to calves that are more prone to scours and other detrimental conditions.
Specialists often recommend just adding more of one mineral to solve the problem.  An example is avoiding grass tetany on spring pastures by increasing magnesium intake.
Magnesium absorption from the rumen is reduced whem potassium intake levels are very high and sodium and phosphorous intake levels are low.   Potassium comes from fertilized pastures via rapidly growing grasses.
It's possible to have too much of a good thing!
For instance, while most cattle breeds are fairly tolerant of the copper levels usually available on pasture, JERSEY CATTLE and sheep can die of copper toxicity!
Some breeds, such as SIMMENTAL, CHAROLAIS and LIMOUSIN, have higher copper requirements than others.  Genetically superior cattle with more potential for milk production and calf growth, may have increased mineral, protein and energy requirements.

Breeding and lactating Cattle requirements:
An adequate level of body condition (fatness) is required to maintain reproductive performance becasue lactating femals will lose body fat reserves during early lactation.   After peak lactation, total energy needs decrease gradually, but some surplus energy should continue to be provided to replace body fat reserves and condition. 
For Beef cattle, it is essential to provide enough energy with grazing and, if necessary, supplementation to achieve a condition score of 5 at the start of the grazing season and manage the grazing to maintain that condition level.

Outdoor temps. dictate energy needs
The energy needs of animals kept outdoors are affected by temperature, wind speed, and animal coat condition.  The energy requirements of a pregnant BEEF cow will be 53% higher at -10F and a wind speed of 10 mph than at 30F and a wind speed of 1 mph if the cow has a dry hair coat.  If the hair coat is wet and muddy at the colder condition, the energy requirement would be alomost doubled.


Now’s a good time to run your cattle through the squeeze chute for their fall vaccinations. Vaccinations and fall treatments can be given to each animal after the veterinarian determines whether or not she's pregnant. At the same time, you should also consider the following management practices to keep your cows and heifers in top shape for the coming winter weather.

Parasites:  Parasite control is important in a fall management program.  Especially if you’re a 100% Grass-Fed Operation!  It doesn’t matter if your 100% Grass-Fed, Grass-finished or in a “Controlled environment” (Feed-lot), the primary parasites to worry about are grubs, lice, worms and in some locations liver flukes. Many Farmers/Ranchers such as ourselves, use a pour on product that is also effective against both grubs and lice.  Most veterinarians recommend fall treatment of all cattle for lice control. You should also assume that any new animal brought into the herd is carrying lice.  Any animal in the herd suspected of having lice should be treated in early fall before lice populations build up (to help keep lice from spreading to the rest of the herd), and all animals should be treated in late fall before infestation becomes severe. Effective control of lice requires two treatments two weeks apart if using a product that kills only lice and not the eggs. The second treatment kills lice that hatch out in between.

If cattle are being put through a squeeze chute, a pour-on is usually the simplest way to control lice. Oil based pour-ons are formulated to travel through the hair coat so the chemical spreads over the whole body of the animal. If you are just getting started and don’t have a squeeze-chute yet, the simplest way to perform your fall and than spring parasite program is to use a “Worming Block”.

Your local Feed Store or Feed Mill should have a worming block and the instructions are on the box or wrapper as to how long to leave it in your mineral feeder.  It should be used as a replacement to your regular mineral block and not in addition to.  Meaning, take the regular mineral block out of the feeder while the worming block is in there.  That way you know your animals aren’t being selective and possibly missing the benefit’s of the worming block based off of individual animals tastes.

Check with your veterinarian for advice on insecticides and which products might be best for your herd based on where in the country you are located.  Treatment for grubs in northern regions should be given before December, while treatments in warm southern states should be no later than mid October.

Vaccinations:   We use a 9 way that is recommended for healthy Dairy & Beef cattle of all ages, including pregnant cattle as an aid in the reduction of disease caused by IBR, BVD, PI3, BRSV, and many other “things” I can’t pronounce.  No matter which  vaccine you use, it should always be given subcutaneously (just under the skin), and preferable in the side of the neck. That way, any tissue damage that occurs can be easily trimmed out at slaughter without sacrificing good parts of the beef carcass.    Most veterinarians now recommend vaccinating all cows for Leptospirosis in the fall as well as in the spring. Leptospira can cause abortion at any stage of pregnancy, and the Lepto vaccination is effective for only six months.   Your Vet may also recommend twice a year vaccination for IBR and BVD.  Since pregnant cows cannot be given modified live virus vaccinations for these diseases without risk of abortion, the standard procedure is to use modified live virus vaccine before the breeding season in the spring, and a killed vaccine product during pregnancy, in the fall.   Check with your Veterinarian for advice on a vaccination program and a schedule that will protect your herd against common diseases in your area.  You won't need to give clostridial vaccine to adult cattle unless you live in the mountain west. But you will need to vaccinate for Leptospirosis wherever you are, and sometimes IBR and BVD.

CattleLog Gains USDA Process-Verified Status
e-Merge Interactive of Sebastian, FL, announced Thursday that its CattleLog system has won USDA certification as a Process Verified Program (PVP). The system is the first animal-tracking system to receive the certification.

CattleLog provides individual animal data-collection and reporting tools to cattle producers, meat packers and retailers. E-Merge says its system is also capable of tracking the nation's cattle supply, which "may prove helpful in providing source and custody information for animal health emergencies, including foot-and-mouth disease and BSE." Almost 800 current customers are already using the technology to track cattle, monitor supply chains and assure customers their cattle meet specific criteria, e-Merge says.

The PVP designation is designed to provide livestock and meat producers an opportunity to assure customers of their ability to provide consistent, quality products by having their written manufacturing processes confirmed through independent, third-party audits, says Dave Warren, e-Merge CEO. To qualify, companies must submit documented quality management systems and successfully pass extensive onsite audits, Warren adds.

For more info, go to: .
-- Joe Roybal

Animal Health
The Sulfate Type In Stock Water Affects Water Intake
Although it's widely known that sulfates (SO4) in drinking water cause problems for cattle, new research is showing that different kinds of sulfate influence how cattle will respond.   Sulfate salts present a major problem for water quality in large parts of North America, particularly for range cattle. In the semi-arid climates where the majority of beef cattle are grazed, hot, dry summers contribute to sulfate problems through evaporation of surface waters. This leads to increasing sulfate concentrations as the summer progresses.
A white salt or "alkali" ring around the edge typically identifies ponds and dugouts containing high levels of sulfates, particularly later in the summer months when much of the standing water has evaporated. Mineral analysis of water samples in a laboratory can then be used to determine the actual sulfate salt concentration.
At high levels, sulfate salts can cause cattle to reduce their water consumption. When this happens, feed intake and feed efficiency are generally reduced and average daily weight gains are lowered. If water quality is very poor, cattle can suffer from dehydration. Sulfates also contribute to the development of polioencephalomalacia (polio), a metabolic disorder that can reduce productivity and result in death.
Not all sulfate salts are alike. Depending on local conditions, water high in sulfate may be mainly sodium sulfate (Na2SO4; "Glauber salt"), magnesium sulfate (MgSO4; "Epsom salt"), or a combination of these and less prevalent salts.
Recent research conducted at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Range Research Unit in Kamloops, British Columbia, in conjunction with the University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Program, has shown that cattle respond differently to different sulfate salts. In a series of experiments, sodium sulfate and magnesium sulfate were tested for their effect on water consumption and animal health.

Yearling heifers and steers were group-housed in pens and provided water individually using electronic head gates. Cattle were exposed to either tap water or water containing sodium sulfate or magnesium sulfate for between 2 and 21 days at sulfate concentrations ranging from 500 to 4,500 parts per million (ppm). Individual water consumption and fecal dry matter were monitored.
When the water contained more than 3,000 ppm sulfate, cattle reduced their consumption. However, the response was stronger to magnesium sulfate than to sodium sulfate. With magnesium sulfate, as sulfate concentration increased, average daily water consumption dropped from about 40 liters (10.6 gals.) per day to only 13 liters (3.4 gals.) per day at 4,500 ppm sulfate. With sodium sulfate, the reduction wasn't as drastic. During the experiments some cattle objected so strongly to water containing 3,000 and 4,500 ppm sulfate that they didn't drink for two days.
After 21 days of drinking water containing 4,000 ppm sulfate as magnesium sulfate, cattle feces were significantly drier than when the same animals were drinking tap water. This suggests the animals were starting to become dehydrated. Over time, this low water consumption is likely to lead to reductions in feed intake and productivity.

Some final thoughts. Sulfate salts detract from the quality of a water source. They become a clear problem at concentrations of 3,000 ppm and above, and more so if magnesium sulfate is the predominant salt.
If producers are faced with high sulfate levels, they should closely monitor their cattle for reduced productivity or signs of illness such as polioencephalomalacia. Producers may be able to address this problem by moving their cattle to alternative sites, as good quality water is sometimes available in ponds and dugouts located near poor quality water. Running water is generally lower in sulfates and could be pumped to troughs. Alternatively, water may be brought in from outside sources.
-- Amanda Grout and David Fraser. Fraser is a professor at the University of British Columbia's Animal Welfare program. Grout recently completed her M.Sc. and is a research assistant with the same program. Contact her at .