My position in the cattle industry is called a Stocker Operator. Which means that in the autumn of each year I buy all the cattle the V6 will carry for the upcoming grass season. The stockers that I usually buy come from the high desert of Northern Nevada and Southern Oregon, and normally they arrive in good health. But that doesn’t mean that none of them wont get sick.
Pneumonia is the disease that usually strikes when a Stocker is stressed from being shipped; thus its slang name: SHIPPING FEVER. If not cared for, it will almost always end in death. Putting a big dent in a cattleman’s pocket book. So what is the proper course of action?
First you have to locate the sick ones. Because they are not like us, who can be physically sick, but most calls to the doctors office your doctor will politely tell you that you’re only sick in the head. My cattle are either sick or they are not makes things much easier.
I start the hunt for a possible sick one when they first arrive. My horse is saddled ready to move through the cattle, as the cattle are more relaxed around a person on a horse than one that is looking from his perch upon his 2 feet.
For me, the best time to look is when the cattle have just been fed. Many times a sick one will not come up to eat but will be found lying by its self. Two people are better than one when driving a sick one to the Hospital Pen.
I’ve picked out the obvious ones, now it’s time to start looking for the next one who is exhibiting the typical SHIPPING FEVER symptoms:
- Soft Cough
- Standing with Head hanging low,
- Mucus running from the nose,
- Hair on the back of the tail is flat,
- Hollow in the flank
- Slow walk
And if you find one gasping for breath, your probably too late, you should have found him the previous day!!
Last, the really good PEN RIDERS have a sixth sense that allows them to pick out a sick one almost before the Bullock (wiener calf) knows that he’s ill. THE QUICKER YOU FIND THE SICK ONES THE FEWER DEAD ONES WILL BE A FEAST FOR ALL THE SCAVENGERS THAT NEED MEAT TO SURVIVE.
I practice Socialized Medicine; this means all the cattle that go through my doctoring chute first get their temperature taken. Then depending on how high above normal (normal is 101.5) the temperature is, and how much they weigh, determines the treatment that will be administered in a therapeutic dose. I don’t practice low level feeding of antibiotics to keep my cattle in good health as you just develop drug resistant bacteria.
So with diligence and using the latest protocol for the correct antibiotic to use, and careful monitoring for 2-3 weeks of all the cattle, they should be feeling Hail and Hardy and ready to feast on some V6 grass.