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Slow Introductions on Pasture

Discussion in 'Diseases & Injuries - Cattle' started by WildRoseBeef, Aug 12, 2016.

  1. Aug 12, 2016
    WildRoseBeef

    WildRoseBeef Range nerd & bovine enthusiast

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    Recently I learned something that is worth repeating on here, though because of my job I'm not at liberty to post about the situation I learned about and was involved in. Instead, I will just share some information on cattle health and pasture management related to this case that you may find helpful in the future.

    To start off:


    We all know--or should know--that introducing new feed to livestock, especially cattle, means taking it slow to allow the rumen microbes time to adjust. If we move too fast we cause digestive upset that results in bloat and scouring in any and all ages of ruminant livestock: bloat, acidosis, stomach upset, and diarrhea or scouring.

    This is no matter if we're moving cattle off high roughage and onto high concentrate diets (and even vice versa), if we're introducing a new feed to their diets, if we're moving from high-roughage feeding to lush pasture. When moving from pasture to pasture, are pretty confident that the rumen micro-organisms are well adjusted enough to even handle going from one pasture to the next, however management that gets lax can be a result of issues like bloat, nitrate toxicity, acidosis (yes, it can and does happen on pasture, especially when going from a highly mature stand to one that is more lush), and others.

    But here's a question for you to consider before reading further: What other problems can happen after moving cattle from one pasture to another? And I'm not referring to what happens WHEN cattle moved, but more after.

    A bit of a trick question, yes. So I'll ask it a different way: What can happen to cattle when moved from a mature stand to a highly nutritious vegetative one, regardless if it's full of legumes or not? Yes, bloat is a possibility, but what else can happen?

    A hidden enemy: Worse than a ninja



    The answer is: Pneumonia.


    By now you think I've literally gone off my rocker, but hang on with me for a little longer. I'm talking specifically about a condition with several names: Bovine Atypical Interstitial Pneumonia (BAIP), Fog Fever, or Acute Pulmonary Bovine Emphysema and Edema (APBEE).

    This condition occurs in adult, usually older cattle, and occurs when they are moved from a pasture with high fibre and some quality, to one that is quite lush.

    Now you're thinking, how can BAIP have anything to do with what they eat? That's the question I asked myself until I read this from the Merck Veterinary Manual (http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/r...ute_bovine_pulmonary_emphysema_and_edema.html ):

    In other words, the rumen microbes convert the amino acid tryptophan into, after a couple of steps, methylindole (an organic compound), which gets absorbed into the bloodstream from the rumen. It wreaks havoc in the pulmonary system--lungs and heart, but lungs mostly--causing toxic effects and fluid to build up in the lungs. The fluid that accumulates causes the animal to eventually die of asphyxiation.

    The terrifying part is that you don't see animals start to react to the sudden change in pasture diet until 5 to 10 days after the move. By the time you actually notice that you might have BAIP in your herd, a) you will have some dead animals that you need to call the vet out to do a necropsy on, and b) the necropsy results clearly indicate ABPEE.

    Of course, before that you'd be scratching your head wondering if it was some poisonous plants or something else they ate that caused some animals to die on you. Until, even more curiously, you notice the vegetation surrounding that dead cow and realize that she just laid down and died, and didn't show signs of thrashing violently around in a seizured state like she would if she ate something like water hemlock.

    Even more scary is that when you figure out your animals died of BAIP (I'll go over symptoms and necropsy results soon), you go into panic mode and want to get those animals out of that pasture NOW. But when you do, you get more death loss. Because moving them and getting them stirred up is exactly what is going to exacerbate the condition those older cows are already in, they drop dead soon after too.

    And of course you're left with a serious worry (not to mention heartbreak of losing some great animals) about what went wrong and why, and how to go about pasturing your animals without getting more dead animals in your herd.

    When you get an animal (or more) opened up, the lungs are often a pinkish-grey, firm, do not collapse properly, and are heavy (due to the fluid built up). Lesions and even bronchial necrosis can be found in the lungs.

    If there's a history that cattle have been moved to a pasture with more lush growth, that and signs that animals seem to be short of breath or breathing more shallower than normal, then that's about the only way your or a vet could diagnose ABPEE/BAIP.

    Here's the third scary part: There is no treatment, not even for animals "that will reverse the fully developed lesions of ABPEE." I heard one vet said a treatment of Banamine and Nuflor has worked before, but it's not certain if that will work for any and all.

    Once animals have ABPEE, you gotta be really, really careful about moving them. And,

    So how to prevent it, or prevent any more losses?

    Several options exist:
    1) Avoid pastures that are likely to induce this condition;
    2) Feed hay prior to turn-out on such pastures;
    3) Limit grazing time on that pasture, and slowly introduce the new and fresher fodder over time;
    4) Strip-graze, but more to 3) to allow the animals to adjust over time.

    Others include deferring these pastures until after a hard frost or until they've gone dormant, use pastures before they get lush, or use less-susceptible stock on there first, like long-yearling (<15 mo) calves or sheep.

    ABPEE/BAIP does not affect suckling calves nor weaned or yearling calves. Don't ask me why. :) But at least with suckling calves, they're not consuming as much pasture as their mothers are. But with young stockers/grassers and yearlings? Again, don't ask me, because I'm not entirely sure.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
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  2. Aug 13, 2016
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    That is a tough one. The pasture is attacking the cows! I have a few sheep, and I will be planting rye grass next month, then dry lotting them. I do observe the short hours on fresh graze regime for obvious reasons. Does this condition affect sheep too?
     
  3. Aug 13, 2016
    greybeard

    greybeard trigger happy cowboy Golden Herd Member

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    Using a feed with monensin starting a day or 2 before the move and for the first week on new pasture helps prevent fog fever. Trade name Rumensin has it's own can of worms but it's been the accepted way to help prevent ABPEE. (don't feed it to goats, sheep!!)
     
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  4. Aug 13, 2016
    Southern by choice

    Southern by choice Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    Sheep and goats can have intersistal pneumonia


    Thanks WRB! Great info!
     
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  5. Aug 13, 2016
    WildRoseBeef

    WildRoseBeef Range nerd & bovine enthusiast

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    No, actually. If sheep and goats do get interstitial pneumonia (which they do, not denying that), its through a different cause, like a bacterium Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (or as PI3, or via Maedi-visna virus), and not through the same means like with cattle (the break down of amino acid tryptophan). Lambs can get bacterial pneumonia through moving from a low-quality forage pasture to a high one, but can be resolved with moving them back to the low-quality one. And that's with lambs, not older ewes or rams.

    So no, this condition certainly doesn't affect sheep, which is why one of the recommendations for cattle was to utilize that high-quality pasture with sheep or goats before putting cows on it.

    http://www.repository.up.ac.za/bitstream/handle/2263/10197/Bell_Respiratory(2008).pdf?sequence=1
    http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/r..._respiratory_diseases_of_sheep_and_goats.html


    ETA: It's not exactly pasture attacking the cows, though it seems like it. I think it's more of a result of a management-slip up that can happen to the best of them, which actually has. You don't see or think that a pasture is going to be a potential for such a fatal condition, and that's pastures that have never been fertilized, are and can be native vegetation (which get lush, especially in the lowland areas), and even get grazed in mid-summer. This case I was involved in happened much earlier than expected, but it's been showing up on other places too. Like I said, it can and does happen to the best of grazing managers.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
  6. Aug 13, 2016
    WildRoseBeef

    WildRoseBeef Range nerd & bovine enthusiast

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    Yes, a good rule to keep in mind. Unfortunately ionophores aren't any help as a treatment option for ABPEE. Thanks for this GB.
     
  7. Aug 13, 2016
    Southern by choice

    Southern by choice Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    Thanks for the info... it is very interesting.
    I have a friend who always has respiratory issues in her herd and I was looking at intersistal pneumonia and Mannheimia haemolytica as most probable cause.... it is different then the Myco's I believe.
     
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  8. Aug 13, 2016
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    So despite the best of management practices, cows just started dropping dead. How heart breaking.
     
  9. Aug 13, 2016
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    I am a huge proponent for the Mannheimia haemolytica vaccine.

    There is goat feed and minerals with Rumensin in it...I have to make sure and NOT buy it when I am milking. I know it is fatal to horses.
     
  10. Aug 13, 2016
    greybeard

    greybeard trigger happy cowboy Golden Herd Member

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    I may be wrong on the goat thing--I am not a goat person[/b]. Last I heard Rumensin was not approved for sheep in the US