(07/26/23) BATON ROUGE, La. — Cattle producers face many complications to keeping their herds healthy. The LSU AgCenter partnered with the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association to host an animal health summit July 21-22 on the LSU campus.
The two days brought together producers from across the state for demonstrations, lectures and tours.
“The summit is focused on health — health in your animal, health in your forage plants, health in your finances and just trying to make a wholesome operation,” said Shae Simon, executive director of the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association.
Participants rotated through stations that dealt with reproduction stages, vaccinations, body condition scores and fetal dystocia, or difficult calving.
“We’re not just telling the producers, ‘Hey, these are the things you should do,’” Simon said. “We want this workshop to show them why it's important and the functionality behind it.”
Dr. Matt Welborn, veterinarian and professor of food animal health maintenance at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, discussed dystocia with a model cow, demonstrating how to restrain the cow, prep the cow safely and figure out if the issue is something simple the cattle owner can correct.
“It may help them save a little bit of time, might be able to help them save a calf because the veterinarian isn't going to magically show up in in three minutes,” Welborn said. “So in the meantime, there may be something they can do to assist the cow.”
Jason and Tanya McLeod, of Kaplan, grew up with cattle, but the couple hadn’t worked with a herd in 20 years. Two years ago, they bought a small herd and are trying to catch up on new methods of cattle production.
“A whole lot has changed, and we want to make sure our herd is good quality,” Tanya McLeod said. “We’ve learned about forages. That's been a big thing for us, is learning how to take care of the land, learning how to just produce a better-quality pasture for our cows.”
The McLeods also were interested in learning about protecting their herd from extended periods of heat like Louisiana has experienced recently. Dr. Christine Navarre, LSU AgCenter veterinarian, said cattle can withstand hot summer days when the nighttime temperatures dip, but high overnight temperatures have occurred recently.
“The longer that goes on, the more stressed animals get and the more likely we will see clinical signs of heat stress,” Navarre said. “Very early signs of heat stress are increased breathing rate and increased salivation.”
Navarre said providing adequate shade and fresh water at all times is critical to preventing heat stress.
Ashley Edwards, LSU AgCenter extension livestock specialist, conducted a demonstration of the reproductive stages of cattle. She said participants learned not only the health but also the economic importance of implementing best management practices with their herds.
“I hope that producers not only realize the impact these simple management tools have on a beef cattle operation, but also that they can easily be implemented into a herd of any size,” Edwards said.
Dr. Matt Welborn, center, veterinarian and professor of food animal health maintenance at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, shows participants at the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association Health Summit how to assist a cow experiencing dystocia, or difficulty birthing. The summit was held July 21-22 on the LSU campus. Photo by Tobie Blanchard/LSU AgCenter
Jason and Tanya McLeod attended the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association Health Summit held July 21-22 on the LSU campus. The McLeods raise cattle in Kaplan. Photo by Tobie Blanchard/LSU AgCenter