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Experts Discuss Ways to Reduce Stress & Increase Gain at Weaning During SD Farmers Union Webinar

Posted on: November 5, 2020   |   Category: News Releases

Raising cattle since 1953, Warner farmer Larry Stroschein says he’s never too old to learn more.

“Even though our daughter and son-in-law have taken over, I still have cows and a lot of interest in cows – cattle were my living my whole life,” Stroschein said.

So, he tuned in to the South Dakota Farmers Union Webinar held October 30. Featuring Warren Rusche, SDSU Extension Beef Feedlot Management Associate and Roxanne Knock, PhD Nutritionist with Dakotaland Feeds, the webinar focused on getting freshly weaned calves off to a strong start.

And just like he suspected, Stroschein did learn something.

“My feed salesman said to buy medicated feed and that it paid for itself. I always wanted to know if he said this so he could sell more expensive feed, or if it was true. It turns out, according to the experts, my feed salesman was correct,” Stroschein said.

Along with medicated feed, Rusche and Knock both emphasized the importance of a timely vaccination program and a well-balanced ration to keeping calves healthy during what is a stressful time.

“Remember, (at weaning) we are taking away their companion for their whole life up to this point,” Rusche said. “There are things we cannot change, so we need to make sure what we can control is done right. We want to make sure nutritional needs are met early and we want a prime immune system when starting these calves.”

To ensure a strong immune system prior to weaning, Rusche advises that producers visit with their veterinarian to make certain that calves are properly vaccinated pre-weaning . And to ensure their nutritional needs are met, he and Knock both said not to skimp on the starter diet.

“It all comes down to the cost of gain. If a calf does not gain anything, maintenance still costs something. In fact, your costs become extremely high because you have not advanced the weight or value,” Knock said. “Take into consideration how much you want them to gain and get the right feed into the bunk right away to do this.” 

Throughout the 1-hour webinar, Rusche and Knock discussed the nutritional needs of calves and what to consider when adding cover crops or other on-farm forages to a feed ration.

In addition to sharing research-based information, because Rusche and Knock both come from cattle backgrounds, they also shared tried and true tips for successful introduction of newly weaned caves to life off pasture and on a feed program.

“I grew up on a cattle operation and for a time, I was responsible for managing cattle health on our family’s feedlot. So, although I’m able to share the science, a lot of what I’ve learned, I’ve learned the hard way,” Rusche said.

Connecting South Dakota cattle producers with expert advice, is among the many ways South Dakota Farmers Union works to support family farmers and ranchers, explains Doug Sombke, SDFU President and a fourth-generation Conde crop and cattle producer.

“Like Warren Rusche said, there are many things out of producers’ control these days. One thing we can all control, is continuing education. As a grassroots organization, we see connecting producers to timely information just one of many ways we can support them,” Sombke said.

To learn more about this topic and to watch the webinar, visit www.sdfu.org and click on the Media Library link under the News/Events tab.