Southern Plains Bison Pointers-June2017

The heat lamp is on which means everything changes for our herds. One of the things that changes is decisions we make about animal-ops and how we consider their well being affected by the ambient temperature.  When the heat rises so does stress, and that leads to additional ‘weakness’, or reduced resilience. This means we do as little ‘with them’ as possible that involves handling, or creating any hardship cycles in the habitat. It’s Texas and the Southern Plains and there is no relief, even in the evening. This can be the reason for late born calves which were conceived in the winter when the weather improves, causing August calves.

The calves born in summer and early fall need to have a habitat that provides the natural behavior of cooling. Arid and cooler evening country in the southern-dip of the Great Plains would not be as affected. In the more humid southern plains, it is well advised to have ‘dirt-tank or ‘mud-wallows’ available for the little guys. They will control their body temperature with behaviors for the first few days of life until they are able to regulate it after about ten days old.

Worms are a big deal this time of year, and we increasingly understand that problem. It is very important to know what parasite is affecting the herd before treatment, and treatment in the southern plains is a must during the summer months. The TXBP program at TAMU is a very good way to know how to target the internal parasites affecting your herd. Personally, I have completely changed my view for summer worming after researching problems in various herds with a more complex analysis available through the TXBP program.

Many habitats are pasture operations that include exotic forages like Bermuda grass. These exotic ‘improved’ grasses and pastures can become low in nutrition unless managed as a forage crop. Keep that in mind as you look out and see lots of grass, but with the body score of the herd deteriorating. If you have concerns, contact an FSA or local farm professional for advice on testing and how to improve the improved pastures and/or grasses as forage.

Not to be too windy this month, but all herds should be studying mineral consumption to make sure and get target amounts into the animals based on the formulation. Involving a licensed nutritionist locally is wise and will produce better growth-rates on stockers as well as better breed-up and reproductive functionality in the herd.

Keep your eyes open – see when you look, and think of them as guests. The wonderful southern ‘cool-season’ – is just around the corner…