Cattle, Forage Producers Cautioned To Manage Reproductive Problems; Field Day Attracts 130 Producers

Danny F. Coombs, Sanson, David W., Wicke, John G., Chaney, John A.  |  5/10/2007 3:04:18 AM

News Release Distributed 05/09/07

ROSEPINE – Professionals told cattle producers attending the recent LSU AgCenter Rosepine Research Station field day that they should keep animals healthy and check them frequently during the year to avoid reproductive problems.

While demonstrating how to use cattle condition scores during the May 3 event, LSU AgCenter animal scientist Dr. David Sanson pointed to a cow and said, "Cattle need to be in this condition or better to breed. Nutrition is very important, because cattle will not breed unless their nutritional needs are met first."

As the 130 participants gathered around a pen, Sanson continued with another discussion to explain how condition scores can be used to select, market and manage the cattle herd.

During another session, participants learned about the importance of maintaining the health of the bulls used in the breeding program.

While standing before a large bull, Dr. Ted Schope, a practicing veterinarian, stressed, "It is important to keep the bull in good condition and to conduct a breeding soundness exam on him before every breeding season."

To further explain the importance of the exam, the veterinarian told the story of how one of his clients conducted a breeding soundness exam on the bull during its first year. The bull passed the exam, and during the first year, the bull sired 36 female calves.

Since the producer was well pleased with the bull’s performance the first year, he decided to save the time and expense of checking the bull before the second breeding season. Six months into the breeding season, the producer became suspicious that some of the cows were not pregnant. So he scheduled a pregnancy exam on the suspicious cattle and discovered that all 36 had not successfully bred.

Upon evaluation of the bull, the veterinarian said he discovered the bull had been injured in the previous year, which made him unable to perform and breed the cattle.

Feeding and caring for 36 cattle and a bull for a year is expensive, and the losses could have been avoided by performing an exam on the bull before the breeding season, Schope stressed.

Another common problem detected during an exam is caused by a condition known as malignant hyperthermia, Schope told the field day participants. This condition occurs when the bull’s body overheats during hot weather. The overheating causes the semen-producing cells to die or loose their ability to function.

After this happens, "About 50 percent of the bulls recover from the condition, but the other half never get better," he said.

"How much does it cost to feed and care for a bull?" he asked.

Since bulls are larger and more difficult to treat, producers frequently fail to practice the same preventive health on them as they do on their cow herd, Schope said, stressing, however, "It is just as important to practice the same health care on the bull as it is on the cow."

Following the session on bull soundness, the group moved to a discussion on checking pregnancy in females after the breeding season.

LSU AgCenter retired county agent Paul Morris from Sabine Parish explained a new pregnancy blood test. To conduct the test, a 2 milliliter sample of blood must be taken from the animal to test for a Pregnancy Specific Protein B. The test is sent to a laboratory and results are returned within a few days.

"The test is 97 percent accurate," said Morris.

LSU AgCenter county agent Gary Wicke from Cameron Parish explained why knowing results quickly and accurately is important.

"With the high cost of maintaining cattle, it is important to know soon after the breeding season that all cattle are pregnant," Wicke said.

To further illustrate the technology available to cattlemen, Wicke and Darrin Goodwin with McNeese State University used an ultrasound machine to demonstrate how the fetus can be observed in pregnant females at different stages of development. The image of the reproductive tract and the developing fetus were displayed on a screen for participants to observe.

In other sessions during the field day, forage experts explained the importance of maintaining pastures and the need to grow clovers – saying including clovers and other legumes in permanent pastures helps to enhance the quality of the forage and reduces the need for the addition of costly nitrogen fertilizers.

"The field day provides an opportunity for the cattle and forage producers to learn about and observe some of the latest developments in agricultural research," said LSU AgCenter professor Danny Coombs, who coordinated the field day.

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Contacts:
Danny Coombs at (337) 473-6520 or dcoombs@agcenter.lsu.edu
David Sanson at (337) 463-7708 or dsanson@agcenter.lsu.edu
Gary Wicke at (337) 776-5516 or gwicke@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
John Chaney (318) 473-6589 or jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu

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