Monday, March 2, 2015

Vet 101 Radio Show: It's Calving Time

Calving season is one of the most challenging and enjoyable times of the year to be a beef producer.  Cold, long hours and lack of sleep sometimes make it difficult to remember and focus on some simple things that are critical to success. As with anything that has such a huge impact on your future, it is a good idea to set some goals. For most people the primary goals during calving season are to get as many live and healthy calves as possible and to keep the cows in good shape so they will breed back.

This month's Vet 101 Radio show originally aired on 1010 KSIR (Fort Morgan, CO) on February 10th. Dr. Paul Chard and Dr. Jolynn Sakugawa join KSIR Farm Director, Lorrie Boyer, to discuss calving time topics including precalving preparations, calving difficulties, colostrum and newborn calf care.

Watch video for the full recorded show with notes


Preparation for calving should start 90 days before the first calf hits the ground and is essential for optimal production and performance through the calving period. Pre-calving vaccines should be given 45 to 90 days prior to calving; this timing is critical to utilizing the vaccination by putting antibodies in their colostrum. During this time it is important to monitor body condition score (BCS) of the cows, which is scored on a scale of 1 to 9. A cow with a BCS of 1 is an extremely thin cow on the verge of death and 9 would be the fattest cow you can imagine. The ideal BCS for cows at the time calving is 5 to 6. Cows that are too thin will have a weak calves, poor colostrum, and will have trouble breeding back. Cows that are too fat, will have calving problems with too much fat in the birth canal, decreased milk production will have trouble breeding back. Basically, think of the BCS as a Goldilocks scenario; in the middle is just right. To preserve this body score it is important to remember that cows require more calories when it is wet and cold out; those big spring storms are hard on cows. Also lactation is a huge energy drain and nutrition should be adjusted accordingly. It is also important to consider trace minerals and environment during this time.  If you would like to learn more here is a great resource for Body Condition Scoring Your Beef Cow Herd.


The time has come for the miracle of birth.  It is important to know the basics of the normal calving process so that appropriate assistance can be provided in a timely manner. There are three stages of labor to complete the calving process.
  • During Stage 1 the cow/heifer is restless; she will get up and down a lot and isolate herself from the herd. This stage can last 2 to 12 hours.  Once she starts straining she should not stop for very long. If she does, there could be a problem.  Also, if she starts and there is no progress within eight hours, she should be examined.
  • Stage 2 starts when the water sac appears and ends when the calf is born. This stage can last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours in cows and 3 to 6 hours in heifers. The cow/heifer should be closely monitored during this stage. A general guideline of roughly 30 minute intervals can be applied during this time. Basically, you should see progress about every 30 minutes. After the start of heavy labor you should see a water bag in 30 to 45 minutes, the next 30 minutes the feet should be within the water bag, the next 30 the nose should appear, and finally 30 minutes after that the calf should be on the ground.
  • Stage 3 is expulsion of the fetal membranes and involution of the uterus. This should occur within 12 hours.

When Do I Need to Help Her?

There are many things that can go wrong with the calving process requiring further attention and examination. Common problems include an oversized calf, undersized heifer, and malposition of the calf.  Here are a few guidelines to follow to determine whether to intervene:
  • Stage 1 of labor lasts longer that 8 hours
  • Cow starts straining, but quits for more that a few minutes
  • Water sac is broken or fetal membranes are hanging out without a calf showing at all
  • Progression does not occur about every 30 minutes during Stage 2
  • Only one foot is showing
  • Head is showing with no feet
  • Tongue or nose is swollen
  • Bottom of the feet are facing toward the sky (calf is backwards)
  • Feet come out and disappear completely again
  • Cow is too relaxed (may mean that the calf is dead)

When Should I Call the Vet? 

If you are assisting the cow with calving and have not made any progress within 15 minutes, stop and call the vet.  If you are pulling the calf with a force greater that two men with can exert by hand, stop and call the vet.  Calf pullers can easily generate a pulling force great enough to injure the calf or cow, so use them wisely.

Essentials For a Healthy Start to Life

Immediately after the calf is born there are a three basic things needed for a good start to weaning a healthy calf: oxygen, colostrum and warmth.
  • Oxygen is essential for not only the obvious reason but it is needed to break down brown fat. Brown fat is the energy reserve a calf is born with to create body heat. Oxygen is often depleted when the calf has trouble during stage two of labor. Signs of trouble include a swollen head or nose, seeing a head with no feed, only one foot showing, bottom of the feet are towards the sky, only a tail with no feet, feet come out and then disappear again, and having a relaxed cow. If any of these are seen it is important to help her with labor. During this time it is also important to have a watch handy and keep this rule in mind. If you are unable to make any progress in 15 minutes you need to call for help.
  • Colostrum is “the good stuff” that provides the calf with essential nutrients, immunity and miraculous substances required for survival. The calf needs this as soon as possible after birth. The calf's gut will only be able to properly absorb colostrum for the first 6-12 hours of life. Colostrum is the foundation for a healthy and productive life. Colostrum quality can be enhanced through good pre-calving nutrition and vaccination.  There are commercially available colostrum replacers and supplements available to use if needed.  Colostrum replacers should be used if the cow/heifer is unable to provide colostrum. Colostrum supplements should be used if some of the cow/heifer's colostrum was given, but the quantity or quality is in question (such as with some heifers or with twins).
  • Warmth may be the simplest and most obvious thing to provide a wet newborn calf, but it can't be overemphasized. On those cold nights be sure to dry them off quickly and massage them vigorously to help stimulate them to move and react. It is a good idea to keep calf warmers, boxes or the pickup floorboard readily available. Other options include calf blankets and ear muffs. The best way to monitor body temperature to use a digital thermometer.  If the rectal temperature drops below 101°F warm colostrum should be given and a calf warmer should be used.

Don't Hang Those Baby Calves Upside Down

Once a very common practice, hanging baby calves upside down does more harm than good.  Although fluid does drain out of the mouth and nose when you hang a newborn calf upside down, it is not coming out of their lungs or airways.  This fluid is actually coming out of their stomach.  Hanging the calf upside down makes if extremely difficult for the calf to breath with the weight of all of the abdominal contents pressing on the diaphragm and lungs. The best thing to do is place the calf in a dog-sitting position, up on its sternum with all legs underneath it immediately after delivery. This position allows the lungs to expand allowing the calf to receive the most oxygen. Then use a piece of straw to stimulate them to cough and breath by placing straw up their nose repeatedly.  Calf respirators are readily available and work well to ensure clear airways and properly inflated lungs. Finally, supplemental oxygen should be provided especially at altitudes above 3000 ft.  

Although calving time stressful it is a necessary part of the beef production cycle and gives us the wonderful opportunity to witness a pasture full of baby calves running and jumping around as their mom’s graze of that fresh spring grass.

Happy Calving from Dr. Jolynn and Dr. Paul 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Check those vaccination records so your dog has a happy and healthy National Dog Day

Yesterday was National Dog Day so I thought it was appropriate to discuss one of the best ways to protect our furry little friends.  Vaccines!
Proper vaccination is a great way to protect your dog from serious illness. Here are some common questions regarding immunizations of your dog.

What are vaccines and why are they important?
            Vaccines are products designed to help build your pet’s immune system to help them fight off future infections. Often, vaccines help reduce the severity of disease that can be life threatening.  
            Many of the diseases that we vaccinate against can also cause illness in people. For example leptospirosis, which can cause significant illness in your pet can also make humans very sick and rabies is 100% fatal in both dogs and humans.
What vaccines should your dog receive?
            There are a few vaccines that are considered necessary for the general well being of your pet. These are commonly referred to as Core Vaccines.  
Core vaccinations for dogs are rabies, canine distemper, canine parvovirus and canine hepatitis.
Other vaccinations that are recommended based on disease prevalence and geographic location are non-core vaccines. In this area based on your dog’s lifestyle non-core vaccinations that can be recommended are leptospirosis, kennel cough, and rattlesnake.

What is a typical vaccination plan look like?
            It is typical to start vaccinating puppies at 6-8 weeks of age and then booster them in three to four week intervals until they are 16 weeks of age. After this he or she will be placed on an adult schedule for revaccination.

What are the risks associated with vaccination?
            As with any medical procedure there are some risks involved with vaccinations. Vaccines are designed to stimulate the immune system so some pets will get sleepy, sore, or might develop a small fever.  Some pets, a very small percentage, can develop allergic reactions. However it is important to remember that the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks.

I hope everyone spoiled those sidekicks a little more yesterday. If you have any questions regarding vaccines please feel free to give us a call.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

What is Vesicular Stomatitis and Why You Should Care?

Maybe you have heard some of the news this week about the Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) cases that have popped up in Colorado since last Thursday, July 17th.  As of today, July 19th, there are a total of 5 horses in Colorado with laboratory confirmed VS infections.  These horses live on two premises in Weld County and one premises in Boulder County.

So how did they get infected?  

The interested fact is that none of these currently known infected horses have any history of travel.  VS can infect horses, mules, cattle, bison, sheep, goats, pigs, camelids and, in rare cases, humans.  The transmission of VS is not completely understood but we think that it is spread by insects, direct contact, and livestock movement from area to area.  It is very likely that there are infected animals or insects that have been transported through these affected areas and left these 5 horses the gift of a VS infection.  This is concerning since we are in the middle of rodeo, fair and livestock show season.


What symptoms did the horses have & how did they know to test for VS? 

I can't say for sure what these horses' exact symptoms were, but commonly the clinical signs of the disease include vesicles, erosions and sloughing of the skin on the muzzle, tongue, teats and above the hooves of susceptible livestock. Vesicles are usually only seen early in the course of the disease.  There have been several cases of VS in Texas this summer and the veterinarians that initially visited these Colorado horses must have been paying attention and took appropriate action.

“Vesicular stomatitis can be painful for animals and costly to their owners,” said State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr. “The virus typically causes oral blisters and sores that can be painful causing difficulty in eating and drinking.”   


What should you do to protect your animals? 

Obviously, the best way to protect against VS would be to totally isolate all of your animals and vehicles from all other animals and insects until we get a killing frost this Fall.  Since this is not reality, the Colorado State Veterinarians Office has provided the following tips to help you out.

Tips for Livestock Owners:
  • Strict fly control is an important factor to inhibit the transmission of the disease.
  • Avoid transferring feeding equipment, cleaning tools or health care equipment from other herds.
  • Colorado veterinarians and livestock owners should contact the state of destination when moving livestock interstate to ensure that all import requirements are met. A list of contact information for all state veterinarians’ offices is available at and click on "Import Requirements."
  • Colorado fairs, livestock exhibitions, and rodeos may institute new entry requirements based on the extent and severity of the current VS outbreak. Certificates of Veterinary Inspection issued within 2-5 days prior to an event can beneficial to reduce risks. Be sure to stay informed of any new livestock event requirements.
  • During an event, important VS disease prevention procedures include minimizing the sharing of water and feed/equipment, applying insect repellent daily (especially to the animals ears), and closely observing animals for signs of VS.
  • If moving livestock internationally please contact the USDA APHIS VS Colorado office at 303-231-5385 to determine if there are any movement restrictions or testing requirements for VSV.

  How can you stay updated or get more info on the VS situation?


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Calling all 4-H kiddos, and FFA students,
 Cattleman's Resource, Inc. has all your livestock show supply needs. Including show feeds, grooming supplies and much more. We would like to let everyone know that we have a drawing going on for concert tickets, for those kids that purchase show supplies and show feeds from us. We really hope that we can help you in your show endeavors and having a successful year with you projects. If you have any questions don't be afraid to contact us at Cattleman's Resource, Inc. Our number is (970) 842-0274, also you can email Leeann, at We are looking forward to helping you!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

CRI welcomes Leeann Seewald to the team as your show supply & feed consultant

We are excited to introduce you to Leeann Seewald, the latest addition to the CRI team. Leeann will be a great asset to you and your family in showing livestock for  4-H and FFA.

Leeann was born and raised on a family farm & cattle operation in Eaton, Colorado and later in Hillrose. She was actively involved in school and extracurricular activities including FFA, 4-H, Student Council, Volleyball, and National Honor Society. After high school she attended dental assisting school in Fort Collins, then took a job as an orthodontist assistant in Greeley. Leeann's lifelong passion for agriculture drew her back to her roots and in March 2014 she joined the CRI team. Leeann has a keen interest and is very knowledgeable in showing livestock.  Leeann is excited for the opportunity to help you and your children learn how to properly care for your show animals and win. 

Stop by CRI to meet Leeann and see how she can help you.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

BQA & Beef Cattle Care training FREE for a limited time

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc (BIVI) is a proud partner of the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program and their efforts within the cattle industry. They are providing access to the BQA Certification, which is a $25 to $50 value per person. Customers and friends can utilize the program and gain certification at no charge from February 3-April 15, 2014

You can access any of the modules that interest you. The "Comprehensive Beef Quality Assurance" module is the most general and complete package, but you can choose to utilize any of the more focused packages as well.

Go to the BIVI training programs website for information on how to get started. Feel free to contact us at CRI you are having any trouble accessing the training. (970)842-0274
Offer ends April 15th, 2014.