Foot Rot in Cattle

This unusually rainy summer increases the chances of foot rot, a bacterial disease found in all ages of cattle. Normal, healthy hoof tissue is impervious to the several kinds of anaerobic bacteria that cause foot rot. But when cows stand in puddles or marshy ground, their hooves become soft and more vulnerable to small cuts and abrasions that provide bacteria an entry into the tissue. Foot rot typically has an incubation period of 5-7 days, during which the bacteria begin to secrete toxins that cause lameness.

Symptoms include:

  • Tissue between the toes becomes red and swollen, and eventually splits.
  • The foot is sometimes warm.
  • The animal may develop a fever and become lethargic.
  • Affected animals don’t eat enough, affecting their milk production and growth.

There are a variety of conditions that can masquerade as foot rot, so it’s important to get a correct diagnosis. Mild cases can be successfully treated with topical application of zinc sulfate, while more severe cases require antibiotics. However, foot rot can spread upward to the animal’s fetlock, and in these cases recovery is much less likely.

Prevention tips include:

  • If possible, find ways to improve drainage in marshy, muddy areas of your pasture. Concrete pads in feeding/watering areas can be effective.
  • Quarantining new animals is always a good idea.
  • Foot rot can spread to your herd from infected soil on tires or boots. The bacteria can survive for up to 10 months — so be mindful of where you’ve driven or walked.
  • Sometimes animals congregate in the same areas, resulting in a buildup of manure — in that case, finding ways to rotate them around the pasture can help keep their feet drier and healthier.
  • Finally, supplementation with copper and zinc can help make your herd’s hooves healthier and less vulnerable to infection.

For expert advice on supplements or anything related to cattle farming, contact your co-op at 814-793-2721.

White Mold in Soybeans

So far, summer 2015 has been one of the rainiest on record. Cool, wet conditions can favor the development of white mold in soybeans, a fungal disease that can substantially affect your yield by reducing seed number and weight.  Symptoms of white mold, which is also known as sclerotinia stem rot, include a fluffy, cotton-like white substance on plant stems and pods, bleached stems and wilted leaves.

In this conducive environment, growers may want to consider applying a fungicide. Several fungicides are approved for preventing and managing white mold — contact your co-op at 814-793-2721 for personalized recommendations.

Other ways to reduce the impact of white mold include:

  • Rotating crops. The spores that cause white mold can survive in soil for several years, so rotating crops in fields with a history of the disease can reduce future outbreaks. Other steps you can take include reducing tillage in fields that have a history of the disease in order to prevent spores from surfacing.
  • Plant and row spacing. Dense canopies and tightly-spaced rows are more favorable to white mold outbreaks.

Download an informative, illustrated PDF on this subject from Channel.

Wet Weather Problems in Corn and Soybeans

Area farmers may be concerned about the unusually high rain amounts we’ve seen this June and how this might affect corn and soybeans. Here are some issues to consider, and resources that can help. As always, call your co-op at (814) 793-2721 for personalized, expert advice on any topic related to growing corn or soybeans.

Corn: Nitrogen in nitrate form can leach from the soil into groundwater in wet conditions, which is a particular concern for corn. Although there’s no diagnostic test that can determine the exact amount of nitrogen in soil, a simple point system has been developed that can help you decide whether an additional application of nitrogen would be beneficial.  Visit the C.O.R.N. (Crop Observation and Recommendation Network) newsletter from The Ohio State University for details on how to evaluate your cornfields using this system.

Soybeans: Adverse effects of too much rain on soybeans can include reduced oxygenation of the roots, resulting in poor nodulation. Plants that are completely flooded for 24-48 hours might even die if the temperature is high enough. Also, saturated soybean fields are more likely to develop diseases due to water molds, once your plants have reached the V2 growing stage. The C.O.R.N. newsletter has more on these problems.