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Frequently asked questions

What is inbreeding? How will it affect my livestock?
Inbreeding is breeding between close relatives. If practiced repeatedly, it often leads to a reduction in genetic diversity, and the increased gene expression of negative recessive traits, resulting in inbreeding depression. This may result in inbred individuals exhibiting reduced health and fitness and lower levels of fertility. Livestock breeders often practice inbreeding to "fix" desirable characteristics within a population. However, they must then cull unfit offspring, especially when trying to establish the new and desirable trait in their stock.

 I have heard that a commercial or purebred Sire should not be too heavy to breed cows and heifers. Not too heavy not too weak or thin. Then, what is the Ideal weight for bulls to breed regardless if they are show bulls or not?
 Prefer bulls with a body condition score around 6. A mature bull with body condition score of 6 would probably weigh between 1700 and 2100 lbs. For heifers the smaller bull would be better.

Pregnant cow? Details on "bumping" technique.
Once your cow is further along than 41/2, 5 month, you can generally see a triangle, a sunken in place on her right flank. When the fetus becomes large enough to fall over the pelvic rim and into the body cavity it sags the attaching muscles down and creates this sign. One day flat cow, next day great sunken-in place. In chute: With both hands flat and fingers spread wide out, place firmly against the right side of cow below this place on belly and push quickly and fairly hard in, and try to hold that position and feel. The little bulk of the calf within will swing back and 'bump' into You. Also, watch her right side when she drinks water. Often this will make the calf active and you can see the movement. As she trots away from you watch for the muscle attachment at the sides of her tail pull in response to the bobbing weight of a calf.

 How many cows can you run with a bull?
It depends on the age of the Bull and the terrain of the land the cows are he is expected to breed. A yearling bull usually can handle around 20 cows in average conditions. A 2 year-old or older can handle around forty cows. Rough ground or when the cows are spread out can cut these numbers by half.

The Fat & SNF content of the milk (yielded by a farmer) is not up to the standard. How can the quality of milk be improved ?
Natural and man -made factors affect the Fat & SNF content of milk. Factors due to genetic inheritance of the animal cannot be rectified. Feeds and feeding can influence the Fat & SNF content of milk. For Technical advice, the Dairy Extension Officer of the area may be contacted.

We have been observing a 4-day-old calf whose cord has dried, but the area is protruding. Would this be considered a navel hernia, and is this something that will go away as the calf grows? Or is this something that a vet should address?
Could be, maybe not, I have a 4 month old heifer that looks like a Brahma in the naval area, whenever the vet stops by he checks her out and just shakes his head, not a hernia, just a floppy naval area.

What is the proper way to tube feed a calf?
Have someone hold the bottle so contents do not pour out or into the calf until the tube is set. I assume you have an esophageal feeder? It Must have the little bulb on the end of the tube or you will likely put the tube in the lungs. Now. straddle the calf and open its mouth wide enough to get the tube in the mouth and guide it to the back of the throat gently, then pushing with a slight upward motion feel it pop past the vocal cords. It should easily go in the calf about a foot. You can feel the bulge of the bulb through the fur on his neck. I prefer a flexible tube but many of the ones available are rigid so it is a little more uncomfortable on the calf. When you are satisfied that it is in the esophagus, firmly hold the tube in his mouth and let your partner hold the jug up to allow the milk to flow in by gravity. Then slowly pull the tube out and let a little milk end up on his tongue to help activate his senses. One to two liters is plenty for the first feed.

How do I care for a newborn calf?
Nature usually runs its course and everything goes fine with newborn calves. But there are several things that a rancher needs to check for, and several things you can do to make sure that your calf gets off to a good start. In order to survive, your calf absolutely MUST get a good dose of colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk from its momma and is rich in nutrients it needs for the calf to survive. Your primary concern when you first spot your newborn calf is to make sure that the calf gets up and nurses from the momma. If there is some problem preventing the calf from nursing, you either need to fix the problem or give the calf an alternative colostrum (such as frozen colostrum or dry-mix colostrum).

I have a 7 month old steer calf losing his hair around his front shoulders and head. How can I tell whether this is lice or if it is ringworm?
If it's lice you should notice the calf rubbing his head and body against anything that's standing around. If you can get close enough to him you could pull out some hair and if you look at it closely you might even see the lice crawling around in the hair. The other cattle are more than likely already infected too so you have to treat the whole herd. Any farm supply store has products for treating lice. I use Synergized Delice and dilute it with fly spray and use a garden sprayer to spray it over the animals. You can spray the whole animal but the lice seem to concentrate from the shoulders forward and back in the tail head area. Delice is actually a pour on but it's much faster to just spray it on than to run the animals through a chute and pour it on. I tried spraying it undiluted but it's too thick to get it through my sprayer. If anybody is wondering the garden sprayer is only used for spraying cattle. Cattle will lose their hair from ringworm too but that would leave a scaled appearance to the hide.

What is Brucellosis?
Here is an exerpt from UNEB on brucellosis. "Brucellosis (contagious abortion, Bangs disease). Although federal and state regulations have helped to control this disease, brucellosis is still a threat. Brucellosis is caused by the bacterium Brucella abortus and it is spread via infected placentas, vaginal discharges and aborted fetuses. Following the ingestion of B. abortus, susceptible cows or heifers may have abortions, retained placentas, weak calves or infertility problems. Milk from an infected cow also may harbor B. abortus. The infected milk creates a public health problem because B. abortus causes brucellosis ("undulant fever") in humans.

What are scours?
Scours is diarrhea in calves that can be either viral or bacterial in nature. It can be life threatening if not dealt with immediately. It can also be transmitted to humans if the proper precautions aren't followed.

What is the cause of mastitis? What are the clinical signs for it? And how can it be treated?
Mastitis occurs most frequently when you have a heavy milking cow and a calf that is not eating enough. The down side of cows that produce lots of milk is they are more likely to get mastitis and they are harder to keep through the winter. The up side is they raise the biggest calves. So you have to maintain a balance. More is not necessarily better. The factors mentioned by lisa are also possibilities.

There a number of causes: stress infection, stepping on the bag, etc. One of the more prominent signs would be swelling in the udder. We treat our dairy cattle with antibiotics usually up the quarter that is infected, but if you don't have a good diagnosis as to what strain of bacteria, it might not be easy to find the right antibiotic. Maybe you could get a sample run to see then you would know what to treat with.

What is vibriosis?
Vibriosis is a nasty contagious, sexually transmitted disease in cattle, which you can protect against by vaccination. Periods of infertility, early abortions and slow return to heat, continuing services without conception, strung out calving. Cows can be carriers for long periods of time, and the bull spreads it.

What can I do to prevent my cow from bloating? She bloats every time she eats feed?
There are two temporary measures that will help alleviate the problem but it won't cure it. One is to get some mineral oil (about a quart or two) down her with a coke bottle or a tube (but it isn't a good idea if you don't know what you are doing with the tube), the other thing that works is Terramycin Crumbles (get it at your cattle supplies store) Mix it with her feed. There is a more permanent solution you can try & that is Pro-bios. It will put the bacteria back in the stomach so she can utilize her feed better. If she continues to bloat I would recommend a vet, or if you have already had one out you probably should consider selling her. There is also a bloat medicine you can buy but I have no idea what the name is ( ask at your store.)Hope this helps.

Is the tendency for a cow to have a retained placenta somehow related to genetics and/or lack of proper nutrients?
Lack of proper nutrition, our vet implicated lack of selenium. We made sure selenium was in our mineral mix this past year and have not had a problem. I've heard a vitamin (can't think which one right now) might be responsible, also. The main thing about vitamin and mineral deficiencies is they usually take a long time developing and a long time fixing. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. The herd health will be greatly improved by providing vitamins and minerals year 'round and based on what else they are fed. Lots of people on this board will testify to the value of regular mineral supplementation.

What is artificial insemination (AI)?
Artificial insemination (AI) is the process of impregnating a cow with semen that has been removed from a bull. When done effectively, AI has success rate similar to that of natural breeding.
AI is used for a variety of reasons, some of which include:

  • Choosing the sire (or sires) for your breeding program from a world-wide pool of genetics.
  • Avoiding the expense and added trouble of keeping bulls in pasture.
  • Breeding more cows to a single bull at one time than would be possible with natural breeding.

How long can semen be stored?
Indefinitely you may lose some potency, but as long as the tank is full of nitrogen, it will keep for years. Use tongs to retrieve semen.

How should frozen semen be handled?
Semen want last long out of the tank. You’re supposed to transfer semen from one tank to another in less than three seconds. When getting ready to A.I. a cow you transfer it from the tank to a water bath which should be 95 degrees, you want to do this as fast as possible. You can leave it in the water bath from 30 seconds to 15 minutes. You can touch it for a short period of time, I have removed it from the tank with my hands before, but I use tweezers most of the time.

What is the normal temperature for cattle?
101.5 F +/- 1 degree, 38.5 C +/- .5 degree

How Does Salmonella Infect Eggs?
Bacteria can be on the outside of a shell egg. That’s because the egg exits the hen’s body through the same passageway as feces is excreted. That’s why eggs are washed and sanitized at the processing plant. Bacteria can be inside an un cracked, whole egg. Contamination of eggs may be due to bacteria within the hen’s ovary or oviduct before the shell forms around the yolk and white. SE doesn’t make the hen sick. It is also possible for eggs to become infected by Salmonella Enteritidis fecal contamination through the pores of the shells after they’re laid.

What Part Carries Bacteria?
Researchers say that, if present, the SE is usually in the yolk or "yellow." However, they can’t rule out the bacteria being in egg whites. So everyone is advised against eating raw or undercooked egg yolks and whites or products containing raw or undercooked eggs.

Should eggs be eaten Raw?
No one should eat foods containing raw eggs. This includes "health food" milk shakes made with raw eggs, Caesar salad, Hollandaise sauce, and any other foods like homemade mayonnaise, ice cream which the egg ingredients are not cooked.

Why Should Eggs Be Refrigerated?
Temperature fluctuation is critical to safety. With the concern about Salmonella, eggs gathered from laying hens should be refrigerated as soon as possible. After eggs are refrigerated, they need to stay that way. A cold egg left out at room temperature can sweat, facilitating the growth of bacteria. Refrigerated eggs should not be left out more than 2 hours.

Should You Wash Eggs before Storage?
No. When the egg is laid, a protective coating is put on the outside by the hen.

Why Do Hard-Cooked Eggs Spoil Faster than Fresh Eggs?
When shell eggs are hard cooked, the protective coating is washed away, leaving bare the pores in the shell for bacteria to enter and contaminate it. Hard-cooked eggs should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking and used within a week.

Safe Storage
Make sure eggs refrigerated after purchase in the store. Any bacteria present in an egg can multiply quickly at room temperature.

Bringing Eggs Home from the Store
Take eggs straight home and store them immediately in the refrigerator set at 5 °C or below. Keep them in their carton and place them in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the door. Don’t wash eggs. That could remove the protective coating on the shell and increase the potential for bacteria on the shell to enter the egg.

Is It Safe to Use Eggs That Have Cracks?
Bacteria can enter eggs through cracks in the shell. Never purchase cracked eggs. However, if eggs crack on the way home from the store, break them into a clean container, cover it tightly, keep refrigerated, and use within 2 days. If eggs crack during hard cooking, they are safe.

How Are Eggs Handled Safely?
Proper refrigeration, cooking, and handling should prevent most egg-safety problems. Persons can enjoy eggs and dishes containing eggs if these safe handling guidelines are followed.

Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work areas with hot, soapy water before and after contact with eggs.

Don’t keep eggs out of the refrigerator more than 2 hours.

Raw eggs and other ingredients, combined according to recipe directions, should be cooked immediately or refrigerated and cooked within 24 hours.

Serve cooked eggs and dishes containing eggs immediately after cooking, or place in shallow containers for quick cooling and refrigerate at once for later use. Use within 1 to 2 days.

What is the Cholesterol Content of Eggs?
The most recent studies show that cholesterol content of one large egg to be 213 milligrams. All of the cholesterol is in the yolk.
An egg is a good source of complete protein, vitamins A and B-12, riboflavin, folacin, iron, zinc, and phosphorus.

Does the Color of the Shell Affect the Egg’s Nutrients?
No. The breed of the hen determines the color of her eggs.

Is the Appearance of Eggs Related to Food Safety?
Sometimes, but not usually. Variation in egg color is due to many factors.

Blood spots are caused by a rupture of one or more small blood vessels in the yolk at the time of ovulation. It does not indicate the egg is unsafe.

A cloudy white (albumen) is a sign the egg is very fresh. A clear egg white is an indication the egg is aging.

The color of yolk varies in shades of yellow depending upon the diet of the hen. If she eats plenty of yellow-orange plant pigments, such as from marigold petals and yellow corn, the yolk will be a darker yellow than if she eats a colorless diet such as white cornmeal. Artificial color additives are not permitted in eggs.

A green ring on a hard-cooked yolk is a result of overcooking, and is caused by sulphur and iron compounds in the egg reacting on the yolk’s surface. The green color can also be caused by a high amount of iron in the cooking water. Scrambled eggs cooked at too high a temperature or held on a steam table too long can also develop a greenish cast. The green color is safe to consume.

How Do Time and Refrigeration Affect Egg Quality?
The egg, as laid at 105 °F, normally has no air cell. It forms as the egg cools, usually in the large end of the egg, and develops between the two shell membranes. The air cell is formed as a result of the different rates of contraction between the shell and its contents.
Over time, the white and yolk of an egg lose quality. The yolk absorbs water from the white. Moisture and carbon dioxide in the white evaporate through the pores, allowing more air to penetrate the shell, and the air cell becomes larger. If broken open, the egg’s contents would cover a wider area. The white would be thinner, losing some of its thickening and leavening powers. The yolk would be flatter, larger and more easily broken. The chalazae (kah-LAY-zuh), the twisted cord-like strands of egg white that anchor the yolk in the center of the white, would be less prominent and weaker, allowing the yolk to move off center. Refrigeration slows the loss of quality over time.

What Does It Mean When an Egg Floats in Water?
An egg can float in water when its air cell has enlarged sufficiently to keep it buoyant. This means the egg is old Crack the egg into a bowl and examine it for an off-odor or unusable appearance before deciding to use or discard it. A spoiled egg will have an unpleasant odor when you break open the shell, either when raw or cooked.

Safe Cooking Methods        
Many cooking methods can be used to cook eggs safely including poaching, hard cooking, scrambling, frying and baking. However, eggs must be cooked thoroughly until yolks are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny.

What factors affect the color of meat ?
Myoglobin, a protein, is responsible for the majority of the red color. Myoglobin doesn't circulate in the blood but is fixed in the tissue cells and is purplish in color. When it is mixed with oxygen, it becomes oxymyoglobin and produces a bright red color. The remaining color comes from the hemoglobin which occurs mainly in the circulating blood, but a small amount can be found in the tissues after slaughter.

Color is also influenced by the age of the animal, the species, sex, diet, and even the exercise it gets. The meat from older animals will be darker in color because the myoglobin level increases with age. Exercised muscles are always darker in color, which means the same animal can have variations of color in its muscles.

In addition, the color of meat can change as it is being stored at retail and in the home. When safely stored in the refrigerator or freezer, color changes are normal for fresh meat and poultry.

Does a change in color indicate spoilage?
Change in color alone does not mean the product is spoiled. Color changes are normal for fresh product. With spoilage there can be a change in color -- often a fading or darkening. In addition to the color change, the meat will have an off odor, be sticky or tacky to the touch, or it may be slimy. If meat has developed these characteristics, it should not be used.

If the color of meat changes while frozen, is it safe?
Color changes, while meats are frozen, occur just as they do in the refrigerator. Fading and darkening, for example, do not affect their safety. These changes are minimized by using freezer-type wrapping and by expelling as much air as possible from the package.

When displayed at the grocery store, why is some meat bright red and other meat very dark in color?
Optimum surface color of fresh meat (i.e., dark cherry-red for lamb; grayish-pink for pork) is highly unstable and short-lived. When meat is fresh and protected from contact with air (such as in vacuum packages), it has the purple-red color that comes from myoglobin, one of the two key pigments responsible for the color of meat. When exposed to air, myoglobin forms the pigment, oxymyoglobin, which gives meat a pleasingly cherry-red color. The use of a plastic wrap that allows oxygen to pass through it helps ensure that the cut meats will retain this bright red color. However, exposure to store lighting as well as the continued contact of myoglobin and oxymyoglobin with oxygen leads to the formation of metmyoglobin, a pigment that turns meat brownish-red. This color change alone does not mean the product is spoiled.

What causes iridescent colors on meats?
Meat contains iron, fat, and other compounds. When light hits a slice of meat, it splits into colors like a rainbow. There are various pigments in meat compounds that can give it an iridescent or greenish cast when exposed to heat and processing. Wrapping the meat in airtight packages and storing it away from light will help prevent this situation. Iridescence does not represent decreased quality or safety of the meat.

What causes grayish or green color on cured meats?
Exposure to light and oxygen causes oxidation to take place, which causes the breaking down of color pigments formed during the curing process. Chemicals in the cure and oxygen, as well as energy from ultraviolet and visible light, contribute to both the chemical breakdown and microbial spoilage of the product.

What is the usual color of raw poultry?
Raw poultry can vary from a bluish-white to faint yellow. All of these colors are normal and are a direct result of breed, exercise, age, and/or diet. Younger poultry has less fat under the skin, which can cause the bluish cast.

Does a change in color indicate spoilage?
Change in color alone does not mean the product is spoiled. Color changes are normal for fresh product. With spoilage there can be a change in color -- often a fading or darkening. In addition to the color change, the poultry will have an off odor, be sticky or tacky to the touch, or it may be slimy. If poultry has developed these characteristics, it should not be used.

If the color of poultry changes while frozen, is it safe?
Color changes, while poultry are frozen, occur just as they do in the refrigerator. Fading and darkening, for example, do not affect their safety. These changes are minimized by using freezer-type wrapping and by expelling as much air as possible from the package.

What color and temperature is safely cooked poultry?
Safely cooked poultry can vary in color from white to pink to tan. Check the temperature in several locations, being sure to include the wing joint. All the meat—including any that remains pink—is safe to eat as soon as all parts reach at least 75° C.

What causes dark bones in cooked poultry?
Darkening of bones and meat around the bones occurs primarily in young (6-8 weeks) broiler-fryer chickens. Since the bones have not calcified or hardened completely, pigment from the bone marrow seeps through the bones and into the surrounding area. Freezing can also contribute to this darkening. The poultry is safe to eat when all parts have reached at least 75 ° C.

Why is some cooked poultry pink?
Chemical changes occur during cooking. Oven gases in a heated gas or electric oven react chemically with hemoglobin in the meat tissues to give it a pink tinge. Often meat of younger birds shows the most pink because their thinner skins permit oven gases to reach the flesh. Older animals have a fat layer under their skin, giving the flesh added protection from the gases. Older poultry may be pink in spots where fat is absent from the skin.

Veterinary Services
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