Conference focuses on beef cattle health

Dr. Hollie Schramm

Dr. Hollie Schramm, clinical instructor of production management medicine, gives a presentation on rumen anatomy at the Virginia Tech Beef Cattle Health Conference.

Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine teamed up to host a record-setting beef cattle conference in 2015.

The Virginia Tech Beef Cattle Health Conference attracted more than 300 participants — double that of 2014’s attendance. It offered a daylong series of lectures, presentations, and workshops designed to give beef cattle producers more strategies to improve the health of
their herds.

Dr. John Currin, clinical associate professor of production management medicine in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, was one of a half dozen veterinary college faculty members who taught producers about a wide range of beef cattle health issues. Currin’s presentation addressed the affordability of calves and feed.

Other presentations covered current issues with cattle poisons, the cost to create a pregnancy, stretching hay, water-related cattle disease, and current health issues. In addition, Jon Vest, a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent in Floyd County, and Terry Slusher, a beef cattle producer in Floyd, spoke about making improvements to handling facilities.

The afternoon featured rotating 30-minute labs at Virginia Tech’s Alphin-Stuart Livestock Arena that covered rumen anatomy, the cost of feed, warming a cold calf, and body condition scoring. The presenters were faculty members and veterinary residents on the college’s production management medicine team.

According to Currin, the conference also gave veterinary students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with beef cattle health. Approximately 30 veterinary students attended the conference, while 14 fourth-year students, in their clinical training year, assisted with the afternoon labs.

“Conferences like these are a great opportunity for us to share the knowledge of Virginia Tech with producers so they can continue to thrive,” said Currin.

For producers, the conference met the requirements for recertification with the Virginia Beef Quality Assurance program, which has certified about half of Virginia’s cattle and added millions to the value of Virginia’s certified farms.

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