29 CALF News • April | May 2022 • In many cases, information collected at the chute is first collected on a yellow tablet or some version thereof, then entered into a computer program later. “We digitized that so, as the animal is going through the chute, I am confirming actions I need to take at the chute and recording things I want to implement,” Sexton said. “And when I get done working cattle, all my data entry is done because I did it while the cattle were being processed.” The information can be accessed manually if the cattle have individual IDs with a plastic ear tag.“Or if you’re using EID, you wand the cattle or the reader reads the tag. The full history of the animal comes up on the screen – how many times they’ve been treated, their genetic information, when they were last bred or any other data that’s been entered.” Take, for example, preg-check time. “Cows come in and on the screen it says ‘palpation.’ I’ve entered 90 days because that’s when I think most of them would be.” If the vet calls 90 days, it’s confirmed. If it’s 120 days, it’s changed. “Now I have recorded she’s 120 days pregnant. So now I have a projected calving date for that cow that ties back to the records that I collected at breeding,” Sexton said. “I would contest that the increase in the need and ability to manage and understand data is only going to go up. Our goal is to make that easy.” Check it out at Wildfire Woes “It’s constantly on my mind. We’re in the national forest with some of our cows and I’m afraid of lightning. I’m afraid of campers. I’m afraid of whatever it takes to start a fire.” Mark Eisele, a cow-calf producer from Cheyenne,Wyo., and NCBA vice president, has plenty of evidence to fuel his concern. Indeed, wildfires seemingly have become just another kind of heartburn that beef producers must contend with. Creating a more fire-resistant ecosystem is possible, but it will take time, especially on public land where many different groups have many different agendas. But NCBA is working to make sure some help is in place. “There are several things we’re attempting to do; some of them we’ve had success with,” Eisele said. “We’ve asked for disaster relief funding, some repair and replacement funding. We’ve asked for some oversight from USDA.” In some cases, public lands ranchers have not been allowed onto their permit areas during a wildfire. In the wake of massive and devastating fires in California, the state approved a plan where beef producers who are also firefighters could get access. “We figured if they could do it there, we could it some other places,” he said. So NCBA and state affiliates are talking with state foresters and state ag department directors. Allowing ranchers to get to their cattle, cut fences, open gates and move livestock out of harm’s way is near and dear to public lands ranchers, as is mitigation funding. “We haven’t gone into this, but I think there’s potential for some grass banking and a clearinghouse to help people find a place to park their livestock until they can move them or get them back,” he added. Indeed, a managed forest or other public land is more fire resistant.“Logging is our friend,” Eisele said.“Forests are regenerative. They are resilient if you actively manage them. Livestock are, of course, an important tool for the fuel load by grazing down that fuel and reducing the intensity of wildfires,” he said. “I hope we see some of that. I really do.” Bashing BRD One of the fundamental questions in cattle health is this:Why haven’t we whipped bovine respiratory disease (BRD)? After all, it affects every segment of the beef business from cow-calf to the feedyard, said RonTessman, DVM, technical services veterinarian with Elanco. Bovine respiratory disease isn’t a single-pathogen event. Any number of bad bugs can get into an animal’s lungs and cause sickness and death. In fact, BRD is the No. 1 cattle health disease. “Across the industry, we have the best vaccines we’ve ever had,” he said. “We have the best antibiotics we’ve ever had.” Yet it’s still the No. 1 disease for cattle sickness and death. Part of the reason is the animal itself. “The bovine is a tremendous, wonderful, spectacular animal, but its respiratory tree, its lungs, are fairly small compared to [the animal’s] size and compared to what we’re asking it to do,” he said. The other thing is growth genetics that mean producers are growing and finishing fed cattle at weights that were unheard of not too many years ago.“We’re producing more meat with fewer animals, which means we’re putting more stress on the system. If you think about it as a system, it’s going to break at the weakest point, and BRD is the weakest point.” So, while the best pharma ever is readily available to protect and treat BRD, Tessman says Elanco is pressing the idea of management over medicine. “Are we doing the right things on the farm to keep the cows healthy? Are we getting them bred in the right time?” Then, are beef producers and veterinarians using the right vaccines? If a calf gets an overdose of vaccines by the time it’s four or five months old, that will overwhelm its immune system, he said, and rather than getting protected, the immune system will shut down. “Maybe we ought to pull back on that. Maybe a little ‘less is more’ approach. Let’s give them the right vaccination at the right time so we can optimize that immune response and ensure that when they need it, it’s there for them to respond.” 