Beef Cattle Browsing – September 2005

Beef Cattle Browsing

Editor: Dr. Stephen Hammack, Professor & Extension Beef Cattle Specialist Emeritus

September 2005

This newsletter is published by Texas AgriLife Extension – Animal Science. Media, feel free to use this information as needed and cite Texas A&M University Beef Cattle Browsing Newsletter, Dr. Steve Hammack.

The USDA has decided that a public/private partnership will be developed for National ID that would include: 1) the ability to track animals from point of origin to final destination within 48 hours, including any interim locations; 2) no undue increase in size or role of government; 3) flexibility to use existing and future technologies; and 4) maintaining data in a private system readily accessible when needed only by state/federal animal health authorities. Under such a system, while the basic information would be used for disease traceback, producers might opt to include data for their exclusive use to improve management and increase cattle value. More information on the USDA decision can be found at

An entire afternoon at the recent Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course was devoted to National Animal ID. In a nutshell, there now appears to be less known about the details than was thought to be known a year ago. However, there was general consensus that mandatory ID is inevitable and that producers should register premises now. This can be done by contacting the Texas Animal Health Commission at 1-800-550-8242 ext.733, or at . (It has been proposed that a yearly fee of $10 per premise be required, which would not be assessed for registrations made before April, 2006.) Premise locations can be registered by GPS coordinates, current 911 address, or an accurate description of the location. At last count, over 100,000 premises had been registered nationally.

Montana and Saskatchewan, Canada, researchers in four trials used plastic anti-sucking devices (which did not interfere with grazing, eating, or drinking), fitted to calves to prevent nursing (P), for either 4, 5, or 14 days before weaning. Control calves managed with the treatment group were allowed to nurse normally until weaning. After weaning, P calves bawled 97% less, spent 79% less time walking, 23% more time eating, and 24% more time resting. (Measured in only one study, P calves walked a total of 0.8 miles/day more than controls during the four days before weaning and 2.3 miles/day less during the four days after weaning.) No attempt was made to evaluate any possible differences in health between the two groups. During the pre-weaning period, P had significantly lower ADG (the authors speculated that adequate pasture quantity and quality would be critical during this period). But P had significantly higher ADG after one week post-weaning. In one of the three trials, P had higher ADG after seven weeks post-weaning. ADG over the entire study time before and after weaning did not differ significantly. (Note: because each trial differed in design, comparisons of length of time that nursing was prevented were not possible.) In summary, the two-stage weaning process apparently reduced stress, but without any significant benefit in short-term ADG. (J. Animal Sci. 83:2205)


Numerous research studies dating back many years have shown that creep feeding nursing calves generally increases weaning weight, and may or may not do it economically, but often adversely affects subsequent maternal performance of heifers. Illinois researchers wanted to know if different types of creep feed might have some effect. They divided a group of 102 Simmental-crossbred cows nursing heifer calves into three treatment groups: no creep provided to calves (NC), 14% crude protein creep (14C), or 18% CP creep (18C). (Other nutrient levels were the same for the two creeps.) Both 14C and 18C significantly increased heifer weaning weight, by 49 lb and 61 lb respectively, over NC. Conversion (lb creep/lb extra gain above NC) was significantly better for 18C (7.7) than for 14C (10.0). At breeding, 14C were still heavier by 32 lb and 18C by 33 lb; 14C were 0.2 units and 18C 0.3 units higher in Body Condition Score. There were no significant differences among the three heifer creep treatments in pregnancy rate, calving rate, weaning rate, calf birth weight, or calving ease. However, NC heifers did produce significantly more milk, 14.0 lb/day compared to 11.0 for 14C and 12.0 for 18C. (Only at mid-lactation was milk significantly higher for 18C over 14C.) However, calf weaning weight was not significantly different at 543 lb (NC), 535 lb (14C), and 541 lb (18C). In summary, creep feeding increased weaning weight and reduced subsequent milk production in heifers, but the level of protein in the creep had little effect on any trait. (Prof. Anim. Sci. 20:211)

The short answer is yes. There was already evidence of this, but Montana researchers wanted to know not only if but also when. They used six surgically-altered two-year-old Angus X Hereford bulls and 56 first-calf Angus X Hereford heifers in the study. Heifers were either not exposed to bulls before breeding or exposed continuously starting either 15, 35, or 55 days after calving until breeding commenced. Overall, exposed females started cycling 69 days after calving, compared to 86 days for those not exposed. Length of time between exposure and cycling was 52 days for exposure starting 15 days after calving, 40 days for the 35-day group, and 16 days for the 55-day group. So, date of first cycling did not differ significantly among the three exposed groups. Based on these results, exposure to bulls before breeding reduces postpartum intervals and when the exposure starts seems to have no effect. That should allow implementing the exposure effect to improve reproductive efficiency without interfering with control of the breeding season. (J. Animal Sci. 83:2106)

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