Improving Herd Health of Beef Cattle in South Florida

Proposed by: Courtney Davis

Presenter: Davis, C. , Extension Agent I, UF/IFAS, Okeechobee, FL 34972

In the twelve counties served by the South Florida Beef Forage Program, there are over 770,000 head of beef cattle. That amounts to over two-thirds of Florida’s beef cattle. Losses that are caused by poor herd health represent a major obstacle to the profitably and sustainability of beef cattle operations. Poor animal health can result in animal death, decreased reproduction efficiently, and decrease in growth and productivity. A herd health management plan is vital to profitable beef production. Investment in the prevention of disease is less than the cost of treatment. Many animal health problems can be controlled with good management, proper nutrition, and vaccination against infectious diseases. Preventing diseases through the use of a herd health management plan saves time, money, and reduces inputs. The South Florida Beef Forage Program agents offered the 2013 Herd Health program designed to increase participant knowledge and skill in sustainable herd health management practices and techniques. The program had multiple speakers some of whom are experts in the herd health field. The speakers educated participants on subjects such as herd health feeding, internal and external parasites, herd health requirements, and updates on Trichomoniasis in cattle. The educational objectives are to identify, demonstrate, and encourage adoption of a sustainable herd health care program that can be used in both small and large scale operations. Ninety-five (95) participants have attended the Herd Health program in the past two years. According to pre-/post-tests, 86% of participants will implement new or change current practices based on their 30% increase of knowledge from attending this program. According to evaluations, a majority of respondents plan on changing deworming schedules and having yearly bull soundness exams that includes Trichomoniasis testing.

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