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Keep Your Cattle Thriving: 4 Tips for Feedlot Health 

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Healthy cattle not only benefit from improved welfare but also contribute to a sustainable and successful beef production operation

In the dynamic environment of a feedlot, proactive management of animal health is vital to prevent crises, particularly considering the prevalence of dangers like Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD). Cattle can conceal signs of BRD, which makes this threat easy to lurk undetected.

By focusing on the following areas and working closely with your veterinarian, you can create a healthy and productive environment for your cattle in a feedlot setting.

Here are four walls to focus on to ensure the well-being and prosperity of your herd:

Nutrition: Providing a balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins and minerals is essential for cattle health. Work with a nutritionist to create a tailored ration that meets your herd’s needs. Regularly monitor feed intake and adjust the diet as necessary to sustain optimal health and growth.

Environment: Avoid overcrowding in pens, as it can lead to stress, injuries and disease transmission. Ensure each animal has enough space and comfortable bedding. Proper ventilation is key to preventing respiratory issues, especially in densely populated feedlots. Regularly inspect pens for overcrowding and ventilation issues and take prompt action to address them.

Biosecurity: Maintain strict hygiene practices to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases like BRD. Keep feed and water sources clean and sanitize feeding equipment and water troughs regularly. Enforce strict biosecurity measures to control the movement of people, equipment, and vehicles onto the feedlot premises. Quarantine new arrivals before integrating them with the main herd to prevent disease spread.

Behavior Monitoring: Stay vigilant for signs of illness such as lethargy, loss of appetite, abnormal discharge or lameness. Early detection and treatment significantly improve the chances of a full recovery.

Tools for maintaining a healthy herd:

The Merck Feedlot Diseases Atlas app provides images of diseases impacting feedlot cattle along with brief educational descriptions. “The Merck Feedlot Diseases Atlas is a new way to support our customers and those who advise them in diagnosing feedlot diseases,” says John Hutcheson, Ph.D., director of beef technical services, Merck Animal Health. “Used on mobile devices, it offers high-quality photos of diseases that impact feedlot cattle to aid in disease diagnostics.”

The Herd Health Manager helps producers and their veterinarians develop personalized herd health plans. The tool then generates a printable record for sharing important information during marketing.

For additional tools, visit: www.merck-animalhealth-usa.com/resources

Don’t Forget: Merck Animal Health has a free veterinary resource called Ask the Vet where you can share your animal health questions and receive free counsel.

Ask the Vet: Submit your animal health questions with this free veterinary resource.


Tailored Advice From Experts

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Additional Resources

Watch NCBA Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) winner profiles. See how the beef industry showcases its stewardship, conservation and business practices that work together on farms and ranches.

Blair Brothers Angus Ranch – South Dakota

Gracie Creek – Nebraska

Beatty Canyon Ranch – Colorado

JY Ferry & Son, Inc. – Utah

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