BROOKINGS — A group of SDSU Extension professionals and veterinarians is seeking information on beef cow death losses occurring now through calving season. 

Losing beef cows with or without clear causes of death is a frustrating reality that many beef cattle producers face across the state and nation. Several environmental, nutritional and infectious circumstances can be involved; oftentimes the causes are not apparent when animals are found, leaving the losses a mystery.

“Our cow-calf producers put so much work and resources into breeding and maintaining the cows in their herds,” said Russ Daly, SDSU Extension Veterinarian and State Public Health Veterinarian. “Any death loss represents a huge financial cost to that operation. We really hope to take this basic information about the animals and their environments and see what trends emerge. We can then drill down on those factors, with a goal of determining interventions that can help prevent some of these death losses in the future.”

As a first step in helping to understand and prevent future beef cow loss, SDSU Extension is encouraging producers who experience loss this season to participate in an online survey to help gather information related to death losses in beef cows between pasture turnout and calving. All information shared will remain anonymous and will not be used for any purpose other than this academic project. Those willing to participate can access the survey on their computer or mobile device at https://sdcowmortality.questionpro.com.

“Right now, the survey is focused on cattle in South Dakota, and on cows that have had at least one calf,” said Daly. “The survey will stay open indefinitely — we’re really interested in whatever information producers and veterinarians can share. If other producers have insights that don’t specifically fit the survey, however, they are certainly encouraged to reach out to me or their local SDSU Extension specialists.”

Producers who experience death losses should work with their veterinarian to determine what may be involved with each specific situation.

For more information regarding the survey or questions regarding beef cow health and loss, contact SDSU Extension Veterinarian and State Public Health Veterinarian, Russ Daly, at russell.daly@sdstate.edu or 605-688-6589.

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