FAQ for Cattle and White-Tailed Deer

( FAQ ) FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

This FAQ is geared toward answering your questions before you ask them. If there is a question you’d like answered, please let us know right away. We strive to educate and medicate for the rest of our lives. This page is a good way for a client’s/customer’s frequently asked question (FAQ) to be someone else’s recently answered question.

Q?

How do determine if my cow has diarrhea?

A.

Depending on the types of grass and feed your cows are eating their stool can significantly change in consistency.  High water content grasses such as young rye grass can cause significantly loser stools than cows eating hay and old summer grass.  If you cows feces is the same consistency of water and does not form a “patty” on the ground or has extreme foul smell you should contact Dr. Whittington or Dr. Fuselier immediately.

Q?

Should my cow be breathing with mouth open?

A.

If you see a cow breathing with her mouth open you need to call a veterinarian right away.  Cows do not normally breathe with an open mouth except when they are extremely stressed out or if they are unable to get the needed amount of oxygen.  This can be a sign of pneumonia, anaplasmosis, or other infectious diseases.  We recommend to not stress these cows any more than necessary as they are much more likely to die while you are trying to pen them up.  We strongly recommend leaving them alone until the veterinarian is present to assist you on the best method of treatment.

Q?

When should I call a veterinarian if my cow is showing signs of labor?

A.

If you see your cow going up and down and attempting to pass the calf out for longer than 5-10 minutes you should contact your veterinarian.  If you see any legs or body parts of the calf coming out of the mom you should contact your veterinarian.  Dr. Whittington and Dr. Fuselier will gladly instruct you what to do for your individual farm’s situation yet if you wait too long you will endanger the calf and the mother.  We are available 24 hours a day for our clients when needed in situations such as these.  Just remember it is much better to have called a little early rather than calling when it is too late.

Q?

Should I poison or should I bushog my pasture?

A.

Both are vital tools to successful grass management.  There are benefits to both bushogging and poisoning that prove them to be an asset to any cattleman.  The multitude of poisons available today can be confusing but consult with your local county agents and  find the correct one to target the specific “trash grass” you are targeting while allowing the good grass to thrive.  Many times people will only bushog to allow the good grass to thrive yet more often than not you must poison and bushog to prevent the trash grass from out-competing the selected optimal grass.

Q?

Should I fertilize my pasture?

A.

Absolutely we recommend fertilizing your pastures two-three times per year according to what your soil samples tell you.  This is an easy and very cost effective way to keep your cattle’s energy up and increase their productivity as they are solely relying on the nutritious value of the grass they are eating.

Q?

Should I plant rye grass?

A.

Absolutely the best thing to remember is to be a great cattleman you must be a great grass farmer.  Rye grass and other winter grasses allow for grazing in the winter months when most common summer grasses offer no nutritious value.  We strongly recommend teaming up with your local agriculture centers and submit soil samples from the area you plan to plant in rye to determine what other agents such as fertilizers are needed.

Q?

What disease cause abortion

A.

There are many bacterial agents and viral agents that are known to cause abortions many times knowing the age of the aborted fetus clues us in on the likely suspects and diagnostic testing on the aborted fetus and the aborted placenta will give specific agents that might have caused along with paired serology on the cow can all help to determine the cause.  The important thing to remember is there are so many agents that cause abortions and many of the agents are preventable with vaccinations!  Get a great vaccination protocol together along with proper management such as quarantining new arrivals as those two things prevent 90% of abortions.  Also if you find an aborted placenta or fetus contact Dr. Whittington or Dr. Fuselier immediately and place the placenta and or fetus on ice to prevent decomposition.

Q?

Why does my cow look skinny when all the other cows look fat?

A.

There are individual disease processes that hit individual cows such as leukosis, Johnes’, parasites, hardware disease, and other forms of cancer to name a few, that cause individual cows to lose weight while the rest appear unaffected.  Sterile and or non-lactating cows can appear fat while others that are lactating will appear skinny as compared.  But as rule of thumb if one cow appears much skinnier than the others you should consult with Dr. Whittington or Dr. Fuselier to determine the cause and best method of treatment.

Q?

What does pinkeye look like?

A.

Most vary in severity and size yet often starts as small ulcers that develop in the center of the cornea.  It makes the cornea turn from a clear to white haze in the center of the eye and normally after 2-3 days the entire eye can be affected.  We recommend any cow with any eye issue should be seen immediately as just because their eye is leaking does not mean it is pinkeye.  They have variety of bacterial and viral issues that start with eye presentation and should not be taken lightly.  Contact Dr. Fuselier or Dr. Whittington immediately if you see one of your animals showing eye discharge or keeping their eye closed.

Q?

Why is my cow or bull limping?

A.

Just like in people cattle can limp for hundreds of reasons.  We strongly recommend taking every limping cow or bull serious.  There are many infections that start as a basic limp that if not examined and treated appropriately quickly can turn to life threatening bone infections.  We have a hydraulic flip chute at Whittington Veterinary Clinic that allows us to examine and treat cattle hoof lameness without having to sedate the animal.  The important thing is not to try and treat cattle lameness on your own as the disease process can quickly escalade out of control potentially causing you to lose the fight and may not even be able to salvage for carcass value.

Q?

What is better a fall or spring calving season?

A.

This is dependent on grass availability, management availability and when you plan on selling your calves.  You always want your cows that just calved to have the most amount of good quality grass as they need increased nutrition due to lactation.  Some farms actually have two breeding seasons to accommodate for their herd and grass demands.  We strongly recommend having Dr. Whittington or Dr. Fuselier come and sit down to formulate the best case for your individual farm.

Q?

What is the youngest to wean my calves?

A.

Depending on the age and type of cows along with your farms management protocols will help us determine when the best time to wean your calves.  Some people will wean first calf heifers’ calves much quicker than they will adult cattle’s calves to decrease the amount of time it takes them to breed back.  This is totally farm dependent and also depends on the cattle market around your area which determines when calves are selling for the most money and what weight is most beneficial to obtain.

Q?

What is the reason to have a veterinarian check my cows rather than a blood test for pregnancy rates?

A.

The blood test is far from perfect as it was designed to catch open cows not pregnant cows.  It also does not give you any data as for length of pregnancy or problems that are currently going on in your cow.  It does not allow for decisions to be made at the time of collection thus causing you to pen your cows again adding unnecessary stress.  When Dr. Fuselier or Dr. Whittington pregnancy check your cows they will give you gestation time and will catch any pathological issues currently going on in your herd.

Q?

How do I sell my calves?

A.

We will provide multiple options for those that are interested when we do herd consulting that tailor fit for your farm.  There are numerous ways rather than just weaning the calves and sending all of them straight to a sale barn.  With the emergence of people wanting to know where the beef they are eating comes from and the increased popularity of grass fed and “organic” beef, we have helped numerous clients increase their profits by selling to individuals.  This is one example of options that exist outside of the standard sale barn approach.  Many clients may sell their calves directly to an individual who will then grow them out to replace his older cows or then sell as bred heifers.  The thing to remember is there is no one size fits all when selling calves it depends on the individual herds goals.  Dr. Whittington and Dr. Fuselier are more than happy to meet with you to discuss what best fits your herd.

Q?

How many days should by bull stay out?

A.

This is a very hard question to answer as without knowing your individual farm’s goals.  Typically 90 days has been the acceptable breeding season for beef cows yet many of our farms may only have a 45 day or 60 day breeding season as they have managed to tighten up so their calves are much more uniform.  Whatever number best fits your herd is based on numerous factors and should not be changed until you completely understand all the factors of your cow herd.  A detailed investigation of where your cattle are in their pregnancies and number of breeding sound bulls should be done prior to implementing a change.  Please contact Dr. Fuselier and Dr. Whittington to start your investigation and get your breeding season where it needs to be.

Q?

Why are my calves not thriving?

A.

Remember calves rely on their mother’s milk for their main stay of nutrition until couple months old.  They will not thrive if their mom is not producing much milk.  We see many occasions as a cow gets older her milk production and thus her calf’s weights decrease.  The best measure for a beef cow’s milk production is the weaning weight of her calves.  There are other diseases and mineral deficiencies that will also cause a calf to not thrive that Dr. Whittington and Dr. Fuselier can determine with diagnostic testing.  Never settle for less than the best.  If you feel there is a concern or sudden drop please contact us and we will determine what and how to best solve the issue.

Q?

Why are my cows skinny?

A.

We are asked this question every day by producers and of course there is not one answer for each case.  There are many infectious diseases that can cause cows to lose weight along with parasite burdens that make it very hard for the cow to put weight back on.  More common than not we have noticed the most common mistake is thinking a green pasture means good grass.  There are many types of grass even a starving cow will not eat and even if they do eat they will gain no nutritious value from the grass (we call that starving with a belly full).  We strongly recommend evaluating your pasture type and hay and feed supplementation to best start the process of determining the reason for skinny cows.  Remember if you begin to realize they need more nutrition do not just put out some grain free choice as a skinny hungry cow will overeat and die of grain overload.  Dr. Fuselier and Dr. Whittington are more than happy to help determine cause and develop ways to keep your cows in the ideal body conditions thus increasing  their production and decreasing your stress!

Q?

Should I have a breeding season?

A.

We strongly recommend having a breeding season for the marketability of your calves and for the decrease in calves being born when grass is not as nutritious or available at all.  We know that you will average much more money per calf when you have a group of uniform calves.   The other advantage is you will not have to leave your bull on your herd causing him to struggle with weight management all year long.  It will significantly help the management side of not having to worry about calving difficulties 12 months out of the year as well! The art of picking the right time of year for your herd should be directly related to your grass availability and consulting with Dr. Fuselier and Dr. Whittington will help plan your breeding season.

Q?

What is the best time of year to vaccinate cattle?

A.

This is totally dependent on what age, type, and when your breeding season is to determine the program that best fits the need of your herd.  There is absolutely no one size fits all when it comes to vaccinating cattle.  Please consult with Dr. Whittington and Dr. Fuselier to find the time of year and type of vaccines that you should be using.

Q?

What is the youngest I can vaccinate my calves?

A.

It is recommended to start vaccinating calves by at least 4 months of age.  We know after 8-12 weeks of age they show the ability to mount an immune response to the vaccines that we give.  Before we give the vaccines to the calves they are relying on the mother’s immunity that is passed to them in the colostrum and milk.  Remember the calves should be re-vaccinated 4-6 weeks after the initial dose!

Q?

Is ivomec a vaccine?

A.

All too often we are asked the question if ivermectin is a vaccination.  This is one of the biggest misnomers that deworming equals vaccinating; this is of course not true.  Vaccines cause the body to produce immune response to the agents in the vaccines whereas dewormers such as ivomec only kill specific types of internal and external parasites depending on the time of year and the susceptibility of the parasite to that particular drug.  Ivomec is a dewormer designed to be selectively used when the specific parasites that it kills are suspected in the cow.  It will not make a skinny cow fat as so many people think.  It has been misused for years and misunderstood as a whole causing some questions in efficacy.  We have many situations we recommend using this particular medication but we have many times we recommend not using it and selecting a different medication due to the sensitivity of the individual parasite we are targeting.

Q?

What is a vaccine?

A.

A vaccine is a single or group of agents manufactured and injected in the animal causing specific reaction by the body’s immune system to develop antibodies to train the body when that particular agent comes in the body the immune system will respond and kill the agent before it has time to take over and multiply causing disease, you should speak with your veterinarian to find what best fits your herd as there are multiple types and manufactures making picking the perfect vaccine for your situation very difficult! You don’t walk into your children’s pediatrician office requesting specific vaccines and yet on the veterinarian side there has been a rise in people requesting specific types and manufacturers.  Trust your veterinarian as they are trained professionals and are highly educated in picking the perfect vaccines for your specific situation.

Q?

Do I need to vaccinate my cattle?

A.

We strongly recommend vaccinating your cows every year starting with the initial two round booster. Different cattle and different regions of our state require different vaccines, due to the prevalence of certain agents.  We strongly recommend developing a relationship with your veterinarian as there are no one size fits all cattle vaccine protocols.  Depending on the age and type of cattle you are raising we select for different vaccines along with where the cattle are coming from and or where they are going.

Q?

Do I need to deworm my cattle regular?

A.

Absolutely but “regular” is different for every herd…. We recommend one of our veterinarians coming to your farm and visually inspecting the pastures and your cattle allowing us to determine the likelihood of exposure and depending on the age ,how many cattle per acre, and the type of grass and time of year determines the frequency and through our experience we will Taylor fit a program for your individual herd…. There is no one size fits all when it comes to deworming cattle or for that matter any animal!!

Q?

How often should a vet be considered for herd health?

A.

Every farm is different and we try to tailor the program, call us today. 337-893-8522.

Q?

Are you a statewide Cattle and Deer Veterinarian?

A.

Yes, there are no borders in the state of Louisiana that can stop us from keeping your herds safe, healthy, and happy.

Q?

Are you available 24 hours a day?

A.

Yes, we are always here in an emergency.