Agriculture Canada researcher Tim McAllister learned that rumen microbes are voracious. As a test, he inserted a cotton T-shirt into a cow’s rumen via a cannula. The next day a rag full of holes was retrieved after being subjected to the digestive process for 24 hours.  |  Barbara Duckworth photo

Rumen microbes are powerful force

A researcher says altering the composition of feed to speed up the work of these microbes will increase productivity

NEW ORLEANS, La. — A cow’s rumen is teeming with bacteria, protozoa and fungi. “One of the most fascinating ecosystems is the rumen itself because it has among the densest populations of microbes of any known ecosystem on the planet with over 100 billion per millilitre of rumen fluid,” said Tim McAllister of Agriculture Canada. […] Read more

The cow-calf pair should be moved to another clean, well-bedded environment shortly after birth and the calf is mothered up.  |  File photo

Clean surroundings called key to calves getting a good start

Minimizing fecal contamination is one of the best ways to optimize calf health, veterinarians say. In other words, limit the poop in the group. “We’re really trying to reduce that exposure of the baby calf to adult feces as much as possible. We can’t eliminate that, but we can reduce the kind of load that […] Read more

Calves with viral diarrhea that is uncomplicated by other pathogens commonly respond within a few days to fluid and electrolyte therapy and adequate nutrition. Amos Entz of the MacMillan Colony near Cayley, Alta., seems to be pleased with the results of this particular calving experience.  |  Mike Sturk photo

Proper ID helps treat calf disease

The type of pathogen that can cause scours will largely depend on the calf’s age, and knowing which one is important

Disease is like a hydra with many tendrils, and each should be identified for the best treatment. In the case of calf scours, the age of the animal, environmental factors and different bugs may contribute to debilitating diarrhea. “It makes a lot of sense to have your diagnosis in mind because you can have direct […] Read more


Vitamins A and E have been identified as the two most common micronutrient deficiencies potentially associated with death in calves that are born alive.  |  Mike Sturk photo

Mineral, vitamin deficiencies can delay calf development

Newborn calves that are slow to get up and do not respond right away could be affected by a trace mineral or vitamin deficiency. If pregnant cows are low in selenium in the fall, the calves may be wobbly when they are born the following spring. They could suffer from a variety of maladies, including […] Read more

Sound, large testicles are indicative of adequate semen production.  |  Barbara Duckworth photo

Soundness exam not to be neglected

A bull’s testicles, penis and scrotum need to be checked regularly by a veterinarian to ensure they can still do the job


A bull’s working life is usually four to five breeding seasons, but soundness examinations should be done annually to make sure everything is in working order. When a veterinarian runs semen checks, the testicles and the penis are also scanned for injuries or abnormalities. “No bull is totally perfect,” said veterinarian Roy Lewis. Deviations are […] Read more


It’s important to ensure that bulls continue to receive adequate levels of nutrients even when they’re not working.  |  File photo

Don’t neglect the boys when their work is done

The bulls have finished their work by this time of year, and once removed from the cow herd they run the risk of being neglected until they are needed again. That’s a mistake because bulls are an investment for the role they play in future production and profitability. “One of the things that we tend […] Read more

Lee Sinclair of Merck Animal Health and Coy Schellenberg demonstrate cattle handling for about 30 producers who attended the Saskatchewan Verified Beef Production workshop, which was held for the first time at the Ag in Motion site near Langham, Sask.  |  William DeKay photo

Low-stress handling gets attention

The provincial co-ordinator of Saskatchewan VBP says the practice has an important role in animal welfare production

LANGHAM, Sask. — A small herd of freshly weaned calves were a test of low-stress cattle handling techniques. “These cattle were a little flightier, so pressure and release. I put some pressure on them and then released that pressure hoping to draw their movement past me,” Lee Sinclair of Merck Animal Health said Oct. 1 […] Read more

Researchers found that good facilities and adequate water supplies for cows and calves are needed to facilitate fence-line weaning.  |  File photo

Making the case for fence-line weaning

Research shows calves exposed to fence-line separation gained better in the first 10 weeks than abruptly weaned calves

Weaning is stressful on calves, and multiple studies show those that are abruptly weaned often struggle with respiratory disease and require treatment. Many of these calves have been recently separated from their mothers, handled, processed and shipped to a feedlot where they are exposed to new feed and animals. The 2017 Western Canadian cow-calf survey […] Read more


A nasal vaccine goes directly to the potential site of infection compared to subcutaneous or intramuscular injection where the medicine enters the blood.  |  File photo

Nasal vaccines shown to work well with young calves

Nasal vaccines can do a good job of providing respiratory disease protection to young calves in the first few months of life. Bovine respiratory disease is a complex of multiple viral and bacterial offenders, said veterinarian Roy Lewis of Merck Animal Health. “There are three or four viruses involved in respiratory disease and two or […] Read more

Boosters crucial part of vaccination program

Injection procedures:


The most recent western Canadian cow calf survey found that 95 percent of producers vaccinate their cattle, a slight improvement from the 2014 survey. The most common vaccination is a clostridial seven-, eight- or nine-way product, and the second most common is protection against respiratory disease. However, vaccines often require a booster, said veterinarian Roy […] Read more