A veterinarian-client relationship is of utmost importance when it comes to establishing animal health protocols. This week Dr. Trevor Stapelman, DVM shares his viewpoint on common practices to maximize health and productivity in beef herds.
Trevor grew up in the Mini-Cassia area of the Magic Valley of Idaho and graduated from Minico High School. He attended the University of Idaho where he completed a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and in Pre-Veterinary Medicine, and then went on to get his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University. After graduation Trevor started practicing in Gooding with a vet clinic, later he worked for a dairy coop in Burley, and then went off to start his own practice.
Dr. Stapelman’s practice has evolved over the years, what started out as a solely large animal practice has turned into a mixed animal practice, which has proved to be a good break for him and has allowed him to rest up a bit. When he is not working, he enjoys spending time with his wife of 22 years and his 4 children (1 boy and 3 girls). Trevor’s hobbies include roping, spending time in the mountains, hunting, fishing, and doing projects around the home and his hobby farm.
Q: What management aspect is often overlooked in beef herds in Idaho?
A: Oddly enough I would say nutrition and mineral deficiencies. Nutrition is just something that is often overlooked. People are at the mercy of the mountain and graze their cattle on whatever grass is available. That varies from year to year. It could be dead, dry, or green and lots of the time they aren’t making any mineral available to the cattle. Mineral licks and tubs have come a long way in the past few years, but still a lot of people overlook that.
Q: What are the biggest health concerns you encounter in beef herds in Idaho?
A: Vaccination is not always covered as it should. That doesn’t mean that you must vaccinate for everything. You could go vaccine poor or “insurance poor” if you tried to use everything out there. It’s important to know what is necessary to vaccinate for in your area. I go to some ranches in Nevada and some in Southern Idaho and what vaccines are necessary vary with the terrain and with what disease is most prevalent in the area.
Q: What issues have you witnessed this calving season?
A: This year has been a nightmare with all the cold and wet weather we have had. Most of the issues have had to do with respiratory disease, but there have been some enteric diseases encountered too.
Q: What tools have you used to help correct those problems?
A: Herds with a good vaccination program that they have used for years aren’t bothered as much when we hit weather like we have. But those that skipped the vaccines in the attempt to save money, or for other reasons, really get kicked in the face with the crappy weather.
The vaccines do pretty well at minimizing or avoiding major health issues. Antibiotics that I have found helpful are Resflor and Draxxin. These newer antibiotics became available after I graduated from Vet School. They are much more effective for helping calves get over respiratory issues than other antibiotics that were available when I was a kid. Typically, we should culture before treatment, but often if I waited that long to treat the animal would be dead. It’s preemptive but treating respiratory disease with Resflor and Draxxin has proven effective for me.
Q: What management practices could producers implement to avoid or reduce health problems?
A: I can’t stress enough that the saying “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” translates across animal lines as well. Most of those calfhood pathogens are passed around fecal to oral. We don’t want the calf ingesting whatever nastiness is around.
Rotating calving areas helps a lot, as bacteria can multiply over time. Calving on dry bedding also helps. It can be difficult to do, but dipping the navel is another preventative practice I like to see. If guys are out tagging anyway, that’s a great time to do it.
80-90% of calf health issues can be prevented by making sure that calves receive 1 gallon of colostrum in the first 12 hours of life. I like to see guys tubing 2 qts. of colostrum right away and then another 2 qts. within that 12 hour period, especially if there is a question as to whether or not the calf has gotten up to nurse yet.
Q: What resources would you like to see more available to Idaho beef producers that would help to improve animal health and profitability of their herds?
A: I think there are some resources out there that are not taken advantage of like they should. Every drug company has Tech Services Veterinarians that are there to answer questions, research, and help with protocols when new meds and vaccines come out. Those resources are there, people just don’t always take advantage of them. Maybe we need to advertise and promote them better.
Thank you Dr. Stapelman for sharing your thoughts on cattle health with us! Stapelman Veterinary Services is a great resource for cattle and mixed animal health in Cassia County. You can learn more about Dr. Stapelman and his clinic by following Stapelman Veterinary Services on Facebook or stapelman_vet on Instagram.
Written by: Mariah Gull, M.S.