Merck’s Tim Parks Says Feeder Cattle Success Starts at the Cow-Calf Level

Listen to Ron Hays talk with Dr. Tim Parks about cattle health.

Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is talking with Dr. Tim Parks of Merck Animal Health about the health profile of cattle.

This health profile, Parks said, begins at the cow-calf level.

“If we can stimulate the immune system in that baby calf and get it prepared as it starts to develop and move through production cycles, we can start to set it up to where, as we do move through the stocker phase or backgrounding phase and into the feed yard, that immune system is at least prepared for those stresses that are going to come that way,” Parks said.

By vaccinating young calves and stimulating their immune systems, Parks said producers can ensure a better chance of success for those cattle further down the road.

Some illnesses, Parks said, such as Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD), can have lifetime effects.

“We need to make sure we stimulate the immune system, and the way we do that best is by vaccination,” Parks said.

The stress levels of the animal also have an impact on the immune system, Parks said, so it is critical to be aware of this when working with calves. Some management practices, such as vaccine protocol or time of weaning, can earn producers a premium, Parks added.

“It is beneficial not only to the people buying them but to the person selling them,” Parks said.

Parks recommends that ranchers develop a good relationship with their veterinarian to help form a herd health program. A herd health program does not only include vaccines, Parks said, but also nutrition.

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