Beef Buzz News
Sandhills Calving System Drops Scours Mortality in Newborn Calves to Near Zero
Tue, 11 Dec 2012 10:17:57 CST
Dr. Larry Hollis describes the Sandhills Calving System.
Sanitation is imperative to the health of newborns at calving time. Kansas State Extension veterinarian Dr. Larry Hollis says using multiple pastures to rotate cattle through during the calving season leads to healthier calves. The Sandhills Calving System which was developed in the Sandhills of Nebraska makes use of rotating pastures to dramatically improve healthy outcomes during calving season.
"They've shown through many years of successful work with this system up in the Sandhills of Nebraska where it was developed that if we can keep the newborn calves away from the older calves, we can stop a lot of the different causes of scours whether it's viral, whether it's bacterial, whether it's protozoa, it doesn't matter what the cause is. Those older calves that pick this up either from the environment or from their moms serve as amplifiers. And they take in a few organisms and they pass out thousands to millions of them. And, so, like the term amplify means, that's what they do with those disease organisms. When these later-born calves hit the ground, say after the first two to three weeks of the calving season, they get exposed to that huge load of disease organisms that are being put out in the calving area by those older calves and so the younger calves are more susceptible and they're getting exposed to larger challenge loads and that's when we get into the huge scours wrecks."
Hollis says employing the Sandhills system is easy and effective. The pregnant cows are turned out into a pasture where they calve for seven to ten days. At the end of the period, the pairs are allowed to stay in that pasture and the pregnant animals are turned out on another pasture. The cows are allowed to calve for seven to ten days and pairs are allowed to stay and the pregnant females are moved to another pasture. This process continues, Hollis says, until all the cows have given birth.
The success of this system in eliminating scours is almost total, Hollis says.
"It's been a tremendous success in areas like the Sandhills where, 20 years ago, they might experience five percent death loss in calves or higher in some operations. This system has kind of revolutionized that whole management."
In a test of the system on an 800-900-cow beef herd with an average mortality rate of 10 percent per year, the mortality rate dropped to zero after the Sandhills Calving System was adopted. Click here for more on this study and the Sandhills system.
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