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Health at Every Stage


Ask Dr. Corah

Dr. Larry CorahDr. Larry Corah became a vice president of Certified Angus Beef LLC in 1998, when he was charged with a large job: create a new program to ensure product supply for the fastest growing branded beef program in the United States. Now, he oversees the company’s packing and production divisions.

He came to Certified Angus Beef LLC after a career with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as director of production systems and 25 years as a beef extension/research specialist at Kansas State University.

With a doctorate in reproductive physiology, Dr. Corah has given presentations to cattle groups in 39 states and six Canadian provinces. He completed a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition at Michigan State University and doctorate at the University of Wyoming.

We hope that explains the Certified Angus Beef office saying: If Dr. Corah doesn’t know the answer; he’ll at least know the person who does!

Now, we want to turn our beef industry expert over to you – have a question about the latest reproductive research? How about something peculiar going on in your herd? Pondering the impact of an implant? You name your cattle question and Dr. Corah will answer it!

The latest questions:

Q: “With the drought, I don’t have enough grass to run my calves as yearlings. Will my quality grade suffer if I send them to the feedyard as calf-feds?”

A: Not necessarily. There’s some excellent research out there showing that calf-feds actually grade surprisingly well — often exceed older (yearling) cattle in quality grade. Additionally, calves weaned at four to six months of age and placed in a feedyard are naturally very efficient, allowing them to finish with better overall efficiency than if placed in the feedyard at an older age. This is especially true of high quality calves.

Now, that’s not to say all calves should be placed in the feedyard this young. That decision should be based on what options are available at the time. For example, if a cheaper growing/stocker program is available (like wheat pasture or inexpensive corn silage), that option would be the most profitable. But, if you need to free up the grass for your cows and are out of other economically feasible options, send those calves to the feedyard With their built-in efficiency, they will often work very well despite today’s high feed costs.

Q: “Weaning was a train wreck for us this year. What can I do next time around to keep calves from getting sick?”

A: The key is avoiding stress. I recommend starting the vaccination program and creep feeding before you wean to give calves a little head start. Weaning strategies like fenceline weaning will also minimize stress and reduce health problems, something especially important with today’s high-valued calves.

We recently analyzed some feedyard data that showed calves treated two or more times cost more than $350 more than their untreated counterparts. Not only does this relate to treatment costs and added death loss, but also the lingering effect of reduced feedyard performance and much lower quality grades.
Remember also calves coming out of drought conditions may have further compromised immune systems adding to our health worries. To make adjustments, start by having a good visit with your local veterinarian.

To read more about low-stress weaning strategies, click here .

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