With warmer temperatures and melting snow comes wet and muddy pens. Not only does this create a poor working environment in your feedlot, it also presents certain health implications for your cattle.
1. Watch all cattle carefully. When cattle are wet and muddy, they tend to stand bunched together and humped up. This makes it harder to notice cattle that are sick, or they may have to be quite seriously ill before they stand out.
2. Cattle may not respond as well to treatment. Because cattle are sicker and the disease is more involved by the time cattle are identified for treatment, they may not respond to the medication as well. It is very important to do intensive treating right away, and follow up the correct course for the respiratory or other illness you are treating.
3. Establish a treatment or hospital pen that is dryer and has improved conditions than the feedlot. Having a clean, dry environment for ill and treated cattle will help with their recovery as well as making it easier for you to work with them.
4. Maximize energy intake in sick cattle. Make sure fresh feed and fresh water are offered frequently and chase cattle up often to get them to eat as much as possible.
5. “If they go down they’re out.” Loss of core body temperature is our biggest enemy. Bedding priority starts with the cattle that have required additional therapy and moves through other hospital cattle and then to high-risk pens where cattle are desperately in need of some rest. If time and resources allow, some yards will remove the bedding after a few days and replace it if needed. Attention to surfaces under sheds is just as important due to moisture from the cattle congregating there. There just isn’t a silver bullet for debilitated cattle forced to have contact with cold, wet mud.