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Quality Starts Here – for May. 14, 2009


Temping is an extremely important task since it determines whether an animal needs further treatment. As such, taking the temperature of an animal is the first step in preventive herd health management. The feedlot and animal health crews may even wish to consider using a different processing program depending on the temperature of the animal.

Recommended procedures

Train staff in the correct use of thermometers on a processing line. The angle at which the probe is inserted is important — not only so it is read accurately, but also to avoid accidental injury to the rectum which can lead to peritonitis (infection of the belly).

Change electronic probes and thermometers regularly to be sure they remain charged and working properly.

In consultation with your veterinarian, identify a base temperature, such as 104.5F (40.3C), as your indicator of fever. This will vary with the time and temperature of the day. Depending on the feedlot’s specific treatment regime, temperatures may be taken for a specified number of consecutive days.

Record the accurate reading, not an approximate one. Take your time.

While thermometers are a tool for measuring temperature and thus for selecting sick cattle, they are a tool that has to be used in conjunction with observation. Therefore, staff must be trained in what to look for in a sick animal, as well as how to take an accurate temperature reading.

When taking temperatures, evaluate the consistency and smell of the manure for potential problems such as grain overload, bovine viral diarrhea, salmonella and so on. Also, check for blood on the thermometer as an indication of coccidiosis.

Clean equipment daily with disinfectant and in between checking animals that have diarrhea. Avoid the use of disinfecting tubs for storing equipment as these can spread disease if not kept clean.

Problem indicators

Death from peritonitis due to rectal puncture.

Temperatures are highly erratic during the day.

A large number of cattle going through the chutes with no fever, a moderate fever or no clinical signs of sickness.

Excessive numbers of animals being treated during low-risk periods, combined with low death rates.

Parasite control

Benefits to good parasite control ROPs:

You will save some money by reducing the spread of mange, lice and warbles that damage hides. According to the QSH audit, the industry loses a lot to hide damage every year. Good hides are worth six per cent to eight per cent of the total value of fed cattle.

Treatment of internal and external parasites may improve average daily gain and feed efficiency, and reduce days on feed in both calves and yearlings.

It may also reduce the risk of parasite resistance and pasture contamination.


Train staff to apply the products correctly.

Use parasite control products as per label requirements. Do not reduce or increase the dosages as the product will not work as effectively and a resistance to the drug may build up. If possible, apply according to specific weights rather than group weights. Monitor withdrawal periods, particularly in early culls.

If using injectable products, where the label permits, use the Sub-Q route of administration rather than intramuscular, to reduce the chance of injection site lesions.

Ensure staff use rubber gloves when applying product, as per label instructions.

Apply under well-ventilated conditions.

Do not smoke or eat while handling these products.

Avoid branding when applying flammable, pour-on products.

Store product in closed containers in cool, dry and well-ventilated storage, away from heat, sparks, open flames or oxidizers.

When applying pour-ons, check for lice on the cattle. Heavy infestations may require retreatment two weeks later for some products.

Watch for signs of lice on incoming cattle that have supposedly been through a processing program.

Dispose of product containers in the proper manner. Some can be burned on site, but not all.

Ensure staff follow proper clean-up procedures for the treatment area, using warm water and disinfectant soap. If cloths are used to soak up spills, burn them.

To avoid lice reinfestations, do not mix treated and untreated cattle together, or house them close together.

Problem indicators

Employees feel nauseous or complain of headaches after treating cattle.

The volume of product applied does not correlate with the weight of cattle treated.

Unthrifty cattle.

Lower-than-normal weight gains or feed efficiencies.

Animals showing digestive upsets or diarrhea.

The Quality Starts Here (QSH) program manual of recommended operating procedures (ROP) for feedlot animal health offers advice on the training of processing crews that are tempting and treating cattle for parasites.



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