Southern Plains Bison: June 2016

Southern Plains Pointers: June 2016

Heat, Flies & Get Ready!

The dog-days of summer in the southern plains are hot (!) and full of things that need management before they get out of control. One of those things is flies, but it can be hard to know how to address the problem with available methods designed for beef and dairy cattle. There are readily available products and technologies, but I recommend consulting a knowledgeable bison rancher or experienced bison veterinarian before deciding on a method of killing flies. The other noteworthy reality about bison and flies; is that they are part of the bison-reality and have been for as long as the environment we now know has existed, and long before that. Flies are actually included on the list of native pollinators and they do play an ecological role. When, however, they are out of balance and ‘decadent’, it is wrong and unhealthy. Personally; I like methods of mitigating fly populations that do not operate in two dimensions that only include the livestock and the flies, but rather 3 dimensionally that allow other critters in my system like naturally occurring fly predators [wasps] to thrive and work against the flies [with] me. Anyone that wants the memo can request it at:

Another thing that builds like the summer heat before a biggin [ie] T-Storms/ frog-floater/ dirt mover/ boomer – is worms. Now is a good time to get your summer worming strategy planned and ready for attack. Late July in the south is also the best time to break the life-cycle of the liver fluke which can cause many big production problems. Cleaning up the worms in the herd during the late summer will put your females on the gain and upgrade your calf crop. HOWEVER (!) during the heat is [NOT] the time of year to be handling bison through a facility [or] for that matter, doing much of anything with them accept what you have to. There are methods of worming that you can do without putting the bison through the chute during the heat.

Heat stress is different with bison than cattle. It’s not necessarily worse, or harder on them, it’s just different. Going into July is a good time to cover this management tip for southern plains bison.  In more humid regions, I observe the bison seeking out shade more than the bison in arid climates. This might mean that you plan your pasture rotation accordingly, or combine rotations that allow ‘shading-up’. Dirt tanks are also used by bison during the heat and more importantly, the young calves [3 weeks and younger], for cooling. The young calves rely on the cooling stations to survive. If you don’t have dirt tanks, just let your water tank run over occasionally to create some mud. You will find the red-dots laying in it to regulate their body temperature.

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