Practice Tip: Hospital diets

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Jeremy Martin, PhD, Great Plains Livestock Consulting Inc., Eagle, Neb., offers these suggestions for hospital diets for cattle sick with BRD.

  • Bunk management. Hospital pens are often an afterthought, people kind of feed them as they go by. “This is a mistake, in my opinion, because these cattle are probably already low intake. We need to make a point of keeping bunk and water tank clean and the feed fresh.”
  • Hospital pen diets need to be double-checked to make sure there are no illegal drug combinations in the bunk.
  • Palatability and fortification are critical in hospital diets. “I recommend supplying cattle in the hospital with a strong dose of chelated trace minerals and feeding a ration that will encourage intake so that cattle get back on feed and back to the home pen quickly.” This, says Martin, leads to his next point…
  • Get cattle home. “There is no reason for keeping cattle in the hospital pen longer than it takes to treat and cure. There are so many good long-term antibiotics out there today that I encourage feedlots not to hospitalize cattle that don’t need it and not to keep them there longer than necessary.”

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