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Tree pruning, disease management workshop scheduled

By Staff | Apr 16, 2013

Pruning of trees and shrubs is a necessary horticultural practice that goes a long way in maintaining plant health and visual appeal of the home landscape. Many problems may be prevented by correctly pruning a tree or shrub during its early developmental years.

The Pierce County Extension office will be hosting a Tree Pruning and Disease Management Workshop for the homeowner, Wednesday, April 17, 2013 from 4:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. in the Pierce County Courthouse community meeting room.

Joel Nichols, Community Forestry Specialist, with the North Dakota Forest Service will be on hand to explain basic tree pruning principles and insect and disease management strategies for the homeowner. Weather permitting; there will be an opportunity for participants to do some outside, off-site learning at Ellery Park.

Weak Calves

Source: Washington State University Extension & WSU College of Veterinary Medicine

Some producers in the Pierce County area have reported having weak and/or stillborn calves this calving season. Weak newborn and/or stillborn calves can be attributed to a variety of possible causes, which can be infectious or non-infectious in nature. Multiple causes occurring at the same time may also be involved, which makes diagnosing a specific cause problematic in some cases.

Weak calf syndrome is a term used by the veterinary community to describe a newborn calf that is born alive, but is weak, unable or slow to rise, stand, or nurse without assistance. These calves require immediate intensive special care, and these extra efforts are seldom met with success when dealing with weak calf syndrome. Calves that do survive are often more susceptible to other disease challenges such as scours and pneumonia.

Most times producers will only encounter one or two of these calves born into the herd during any given calving season, but the syndrome can occasionally be seen in outbreak form and result in the loss of many calves. Herds affected with weak calf syndrome may also have stillborn calves.

Possible causes for weak calf syndrome include:

Inadequate dietary protein and/or energy fed to cows and heifers during late gestation

Mineral/vitamin deficiencies (Iodine, Selenium, Vitamin E)

Bovine Virus Diarrhea (BVD) or Leptospirosis infection during pregnancy

Cold and/or wet weather resulting in hypothermia

Age of dam higher incidence in calves born to heifers and very old cows


Weak calf syndrome is best addressed well before the start of calving season. There are some things producers can do to help reduce weak calf problems in cows yet to calve when faced with an outbreak of weak calf syndrome.

1. Provide shelter during severe winter weather. Make sure the calving area is clean and well-drained with adequate wind protection. During severe weather cows and calves will likely need to be moved into a barn for the first day or two after calves are born. It is critical that these cows and calves be moved out to pastures or other open areas as soon as the calf is strong and eating well or within 1-2 days of birth. This will help to prevent excessive exposure to disease-causing pathogens that can quickly build up in small calving areas.

2. Identify weak or “at risk” calves promptly and provide special care. Watch to see that calves are up and nursing within one hour of birth. If this is not the case these calves should be dried, warmed, and hand-fed colostrum or a colostrum replacer. Any calf not seen up and nursing within one hour of birth, those having yellow meconium staining of the hair coat (indicates stress during birth), or calf not claimed or cleaned by the cow is in need of special care.

3. Address selenium. Evaluate the selenium levels in the ration or check the selenium level of weak born or dead calves. Selenium injections can be given to calves at birth, but it is not as effective as supplementing pregnant cows prior to calving. Consult with your veterinarian for specific recommendations.

4. Evaluate protein and energy in the ration. Work with your veterinarian or nutritionist to determine if cows are receiving adequate protein and energy. This will involve taking hay/feed samples for nutritional analysis. Drought conditions of 2012 could also have had negative impacts on forage quality. Evaluate the body condition score of the cows cows should be at a body condition score of 5 to 6 at calving.

Preventing weak calf syndrome in the next calving season hinges on providing enough protein and energy for pregnant cows, monitoring cow body condition scores to ensure adequate body condition at calving, providing supplemental protein, energy, and/or minerals if nutritional analysis indicates shortages, following a herd vaccination program tailored to your individual operation by your herd veterinarian who knows and understands the specific needs, disease problems, and management issues of your operation.

For further information you may view the “Weak Calf Syndrome” publication by Washington State University Extension & WSU College of Veterinary Medicine at: extension.wsu.edu/vetextension/Beef/Documents/WeakCalfSyndromeJan2009.pdf or contact the Pierce County Extension office at 701-776-6234.

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