Several bacterial agents can cause calf diarrhea, and most of these agents tend to result in calves getting diarrhea within the first week of life. | File photo

Age of onset provides clue to cause of diarrhea in calves

Calf scours, or calf diarrhea, continues to be one of the significant causes of calf mortality in beef cattle herds. Dr. Jennifer Pearson from the University of Calgary published data from the Western Canadian Cow-Calf Surveillance Network that documented an overall pre-weaning calf mortality level of 4.5 percent and a pre-weaning treatment rate for all […] Read more

It’s a good time to remind beef producers to think about getting your cow’s water sources tested for quality, especially if they rely on dugouts, sloughs or shallow lakes and in some cases deep wells. | File photo

Monitor water supply because quality can change quickly

As I am writing this article, it has been a very dry spring in many parts of Western Canada. Our snow seemed to melt early and much of it seemed to evaporate and the sloughs and dugouts did not seem to fill with much runoff. Hopefully, by the time this article is published, we will […] Read more

It would be wonderful if we had a simple test for libido in bulls, but unfortunately we don’t. | File photo

Reproductive success can depend on sexual motivation

Reproductive success is key to profitability for cow-calf operations. To achieve this success, two things have to happen. First, our breeding cows and heifers must cycle early in the breeding period. Second, they must conceive when bred. The first factor is largely influenced by the nutritional program and body condition of the cows and heifers. […] Read more


The birthing period and the subsequent first few days of life have been shown to be the most hazardous time of a calf’s life. | Mike Sturk photo

Dystocia, calf vigour and colostral intake all connected

As the weather begins to warm up, many beef herds in Western Canada are in the midst of calving season. Producing and weaning live calves is an obviously critical component of cow-calf profitability and problems that occur at this time can have significant consequences. The birthing period and the subsequent first few days of life […] Read more

Despite our best preventive strategies we will still see some calving difficulties even in well-managed herds. | File photo

It’s important to know when to intervene during calving

At calving time, we would prefer to have every cow and heifer calve on their own and deliver a live calf. We try to ensure this by wisely selecting bulls in terms of birth weights and EPDs for calving ease, by ensuring a top-notch heifer management and selection program, and by providing good nutrition and […] Read more


In most cases, the most common way of introducing a new infection into a herd is through the purchase of animals. | Mike Sturk photo

Size of a cattle herd’s bubble can affect disease risk

I spoke to a veterinarian in Western Canada this week who was dealing with a significant disease outbreak in one of his client’s herds. The cow-calf producer had a number of cows abort and now at calving time, they had a significant number of calves dying with what appeared to be septicemia, which is a […] Read more

A recent trial could not show significant differences in bovine respiratory disease morbidity, mortality and average daily gain between calves that were vaccinated by injection and those that received vaccines intranasally. | File photo

New research studies intranasal vs. injectable vaccines

As we watch the first deliveries of the SARS-coronavirus 2 vaccines into the provinces, and the ongoing challenges with the distribution of vaccines, it is amazing to think about how quickly these vaccines came to market and how rapidly the scientists were able to accomplish the difficult Phase 3 clinical trials that are necessary to […] Read more

Despite recent research, we still don’t completely understand how the ureaplasma diversum bacteria causes embryonic loss and why it can be apparently present in clinically normal cattle. | File photo

Ureaplasma may be overlooked diagnosis for abortions

I was recently consulted about a disease investigation involving a group of heifers that was exposed to three bulls during a 90-day breeding season. The bull-cow ratio was more than adequate and the heifers were well vaccinated, receiving a modified live pre-breeding vaccine, as well as being vaccinated for vibriosis (Campylobacter) and leptospirosis. The herd […] Read more


The cattle industry has made huge strides in cattle handling during the last decade or more. | File photo

Cattle movement benefits from quality stockmanship

With the fall run in full swing, I’ve had the opportunity to be at a number of feedlots where they were processing fall calves. As I watched the processing crews, I was impressed at the stockmanship that I witnessed. There was no shouting, everybody was calm and quiet and animals were moved through the system […] Read more

Estimates vary, but up to 75 percent of the antimicrobial treatments and 50 percent of the mortality in feedlot cattle can be attributed to respiratory disease. | File photo

Technology improves identification of common viruses

Bovine respiratory disease is usually considered the most important economic and costly disease of beef cattle. Estimates vary, but up to 75 percent of the antimicrobial treatments and 50 percent of the mortality in feedlot cattle can be attributed to respiratory disease. Stressors such as weaning, transport and mixing play an important role in the […] Read more