Monday, April 29, 2024

Having custom-collected semen shipped from private breeders?

  CONCEPTIONS  Beef Cow-calf newsletter         March-April 2022

Many of you have found that directing direct semen (or embryo) shipments to our office saves trouble handling shippers and insures biologicals are handled expertly (for example, we add nitrogen to vapor shippers before handling the contents so they can be transferred to your tank or our delivery tank at optimal temperature.

If you are arranging such a shipment, CALL US (or email, or text) so we can watch for it to arrive.    With all the recent craziness, shippers can get lost in the Fed EX or UPS systems, and someone has to be tracking them so they arrive safely.    We just need to know where your order is coming from, how much is coming, and we will get it into your tank  (whether stored here or at your farm).

Pooling your orders with us:  save on or eliminate shipping costs

A single shipper tank moving, say, from Hawkeye Breeders in Iowa to Michigan is costing approximately $150.     On a 20 unit order, that adds $7.50 per straw onto your purchase price…   a cost you can avoid if the bull is handled by Cattle Visions.


A cow having a calf has to be ready for delivery.   This means that her dry cow ration in the third trimester needs to be maintaining her body condition at a stable weight.  Trace mineral levels in feed need to be adequate to support good muscle function, and daily walking exercise helps to maintain good muscle tone so cow can complete the delivery without “running out of gas”.

Clean and dry calving areas.   Cows calving outside in the spring will seek out a spot by instinct, avoiding areas where another cow has already delivered.     But if it is still wintry or wet and the calvings have started, consider setting up calving pens in sheds that can be bedded dry and easily cleaned.    I have seen calving shelters on skids you haul around a paddock.

Avoid rushing deliveries.    The full calving process takes several hours from the onset of labor.   “Pulling” calves early in labor, as a convenience to your time will usually damage the cervix, and maybe even the uterus and attached muscles used in delivery, and can render cows sterile.

If it becomes necessary to assist a calving, try to accomplish this with the use of OB chains and handles (in stock in our store and elsewhere) that allow you to alternate “pull” from one leg to the other.    Pull with her contractions, rest between contractions.     Until the body is out far enough to expose the navel, when the calf may be getting squeezed at its diaphragm (affecting its ability to breathe) you do not have to hurry things.

Milk fever is always a possibility in an over-conditioned cow that is fully grown.    When dry, the metabolism shuts down its synthesizing of calcium from what producing milk requires.    If this does not start back up when cows udder up, their muscles may not contract properly to enable calving without assistance, and then the cow cannot stand up after delivery (or may go down a bit later, after nursing her calf).     You can detect this by feeling the temperature of their ears (which should be warm to be “normal”).      There are oral calcium supplements to use prior to calving, and if cows go down, your vet will have CMPK solutions that can be IV’d into the milk vein (or if highly skilled, the jugular).     Yes, this is more often a “dairy cow” problem, but it is not impossible for a good beef momma cow to have mild cases. 

Mastitis and metritis often go hand in hand.     Good levels of vitamins A, D and E insure higher levels of liver enzymes produced to “clean up” the uterus after the placenta is delivered.    But it takes up to a month for the uterus to fully involute (return to normal size and condition) after a calving; the first days after the calving the cervix will still be partially dilated, allowing drainage to leave the uterus (thus bad bugs could crawl up that stream and enter the uterus).    Because of the nutrient energy drain making an udder and shrinking the uterus demands, an infection in either organ will reduce the system’s resistance to infection in the other.    Check udders if you can, at least observe their color and texture if the cow is not keen on being handled;  mastitis is easily conquered if you catch it early, harder to deal with if you give it a chance to multiply.


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