Southern Plains Bison Pointers May 2017

Growing Seasons


Everything is changing and throughout the month of June, southern grasslands and prairies will go through 3 stages that affect herd health. While up north the first green-up is just now in full swing, in the south we are at the end of the first growing season and in the ‘green up’ of the second one – called the warm season.  This means a few things that you should be aware of as you watch and visually inspect the body score of the herd. April is lush and extra nutrition is plentiful during that period, but it is followed by a late May waning of nutrition as the plants put all their energy into reproduction, or ‘going to seed’.  The body score of the animals will reflect this change, then bounce back in mid-June when the warm season [or summer] vegetation comes into the selectable and highly nutritious stage of its life cycle. The ‘eye of the buffalo man’ is required for keeping up with these changes and staying out of trouble. Watch the condition through the hump and front shoulder, for evidence of good healthy body score. This ‘energy-reserve’ area of the body is your first indicator that something is not quite right and if you catch the problem early, you will keep the herd on track and out of trouble.

Worms are big this time of year and re-infection happens rapidly. I always plan strategic cube wormings when I suspect that the herd is showing the signs. When you worm with cubes, make sure and read the label carefully to understand how it applies to the AU’s your herd is made up of. Personally, I like to calculate the AU’s and slightly overdose to make sure I get everyone treated.

Calves are part of the spring bloom, and I never tire of the scene. Up against their brown mothers roaming through a bright multi-colored background, they are perfection by nature and artistically conspicuous. They also present opportunities to worry about all the wrong things, and accidentally cause problems. By this I mean; worry about what to do. 99% of the time, the best answer is nothing. However, if you ‘feel’ that you can help – without causing more problems, then personally I will always act to prevent suffering, with the condition that I don’t cause more. A good orphan kit and a good relationship with a local veterinarian are precautions to take for success. I hear folks say all the time, why would I use a vet for bison operations when I don’t really need them? Answer: because when you really ‘DO’ need them, the relationship with your herd and their expanded knowledge of bison because of the relationship – gets you the help regardless of conveniently timed animal emergencies.