Remember your livestock

Published 4:56 pm Saturday, May 31, 2008

We have begun receiving some basic calls on livestock and horse management. I have asked Ms. Melanie Sojourner our new livestock and horse area youth agent to address these issues in today article. So the following answers are from Melanie so can call her at the Adams County Extension Office if you have any additional questions relating to these areas.

While the first day of summer may be a few weeks away those of us in the Miss-Lou feel as if it has already arrived. With our area children out of school, temperatures in the mid-90s and humidity readings near 90 percent you don’t have to look far for signs of summer. For area livestock producers and horse enthusiasts the signs are just as visible.

This time of year means a number of things for cattle producers. Calving season is coming to an end, fly populations are in full swing, invasive weeds and brush are creeping into pastures and now is the time to make hay for this coming winter. With these things in mind there are a number of management practices on which we need to be focusing.

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Insect pests cost Mississippi producers millions of dollars annually. These pests cause financial losses by decreasing milk production and weight gains, by damaging carcasses and hides, and by transmitting diseases. Below are a couple of common questions producers must answer to avoid undue losses and one very important question for our area horse owners.

Q. How do I control insect pests in my cattle herd? In our area there are a number of delivery methods that can be an effective means of fly control. Including sprays, pour-ons, backrubbers, feed additives and ear tags, which one works best depends upon each individual operations and a producers personal preference. In many cases a combination of control methods appear to work best.

For horn flies insecticides with chemical components of coumaphos, stirofos, permethrin and ivermectin work best. Trade names of these products that can be found in sprays include; Co-Ral, Rabon, Ectiban and Atroban. For backrubbers Co-Ral, Ectiban and Atroban are good choices. These products can also be effective in the control of lice and ticks. For pour-ons Ectiban and Atroban can be used and another popular choice is the ivermectin product Ivomec. For horse and deer flies Ectiban and Atroban are proven repellents. Each can be found at local co-ops and farm supply stores and as always with chemical products one should read and follow product label before using.

Oral larvacides which can be found in many free-choice mineral products can be highly effective in helping control horn flies when included into a producers overall management plan. However, if you have a neighbor who is not implementing a fly control program you may be wasting your money purchasing minerals with fly-control additives.

Q. Should I even bother with a fly control program? Controlling flies in cattle herds can be an expensive practice. However, not controlling flies can be more expensive. Consider this; the current fall forecast for calf prices is $103 to $109 per hundred-weight, research shows not treating flies can result up to 25 pounds in lost weights at market time. This calculates to a loss of nearly $30 on a 550 weight calf this fall, when one multiples that times the number of calves in his herd the lost can be very costly. Additionally flies cause weight loss in our cow herds that may drop them below optimum body condition scores. This makes it difficult getting them bred back and causing even larger losses in next year’s calf crop. So as with all management practices it is important that producer’s put a pen to paper when making management decisions.

David Carter Adams County extension director. He can be reached at