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Pine Needles?

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LazyWP

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We sent cows home on the 4th. When we headed out to gather them, there were 2 abortions right at the gate. You could see where the cows had been eating on Pine needles, so we are attributing the aborts to that. My question is, with all the grass this year, and there is quite a bunch still in the pasture, why did the cows go for the needles? 3 years ago, we shipped out of the same pasture, and had pretty much the same results. This pasture has the least amount of Pine trees in it, and is by far the easiest one to gather. With our rotation, I won't be using this one again, for late grazing for another 3 years, but if we are going to have problems with abortions, I won't be using it at all for late grazing. Any ideas or thoughts are welcome.
 

Big Swede

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I don't know WP, maybe they taste good, salty, or something. I have a neighbor who just kicked his cows back out in his pines after weaning, I think I'll call him. Could it be something else? Vibrio, lepto? With your elk herd you might want to make sure the cows are vaccinated. By the way thanks for taking the elk herd. Most of those used to be in my back yard.
 

Faster horses

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Sorry to hear about your cows aborting, Lazy WP.
Pine needles in Montana and Wyoming have been a problem for
a long time. Extensive studies have been done, but no one
has come up with a satisfactory answer to keep abortions
from happening. Once cows start
eating them, it seems like they become
addicted to them. It's only the Ponderosa pine that causes the problem,
the way I understand it.

I think that abortion from pine needles is usually in the third trimester,
but I'm not totally sure about that.

I would ask if you have your cows on a good mineral program.
That seems to help the cows to not desire to eat the needles.

I did a search and found this from Arizona. I thought it contained
some good information:

http://ag.arizona.edu/AREC/pubs/rmg/4%20animalcare&healthmaintenance/31%20pineneedleabortion01.pdf

Good luck!
 

LazyWP

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Big Swede said:
I don't know WP, maybe they taste good, salty, or something. I have a neighbor who just kicked his cows back out in his pines after weaning, I think I'll call him. Could it be something else? Vibrio, lepto? With your elk herd you might want to make sure the cows are vaccinated. By the way thanks for taking the elk herd. Most of those used to be in my back yard.

You aren't very welcome, and you can come get them at any point now. The novelty has worn off.
 

WyomingRancher

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Yeah, they can be a huge problem here as well. This is an article I wrote the year pine needles really slammed us:

http://beefmagazine.com/mag/beef_needle_nightmare/

I'm wondering if these pine beetle diseased trees are more toxic? I followed-up with Kip Panter to study it further, and he was interested, but his research person dropped the ball. Anyhow, I feel your pain, and I'd avoid needles, especially during the last trimester if possible.
 

LazyWP

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I guess we would barely be into the third trimester. Bulls were turned in May 19. What gets me is it is only 1 pasture, and it has the least amount of pines. The only thing I have come up with is this pasture is the only one that doesn't have some sort of sub irrigated grass. The other observation is the older cows didn't eat the needles.
Thanks for all the ideas and responses.
 

hillsdown

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WyomingRancher said:
Yeah, they can be a huge problem here as well. This is an article I wrote the year pine needles really slammed us:

http://beefmagazine.com/mag/beef_needle_nightmare/

I'm wondering if these pine beetle diseased trees are more toxic? I followed-up with Kip Panter to study it further, and he was interested, but his research person dropped the ball. Anyhow, I feel your pain, and I'd avoid needles, especially during the last trimester if possible.

For how beautiful and majestic those Ponderosa Pine trees are they sure can reek havoc. That is a great article you wrote WR. I have book marked it , thanks.
 

WyomingRancher

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LazyWP said:
I guess we would barely be into the third trimester. Bulls were turned in May 19. What gets me is it is only 1 pasture, and it has the least amount of pines. The only thing I have come up with is this pasture is the only one that doesn't have some sort of sub irrigated grass. The other observation is the older cows didn't eat the needles.
Thanks for all the ideas and responses.

Thanks HD, I wish I had never gone through that experience to write it!

One more thought, I submitted needle samples for a year off of five different trees located within 100 yards of each other, and toxicity varied greatly among trees, AND within the SAME tree. No kidding, they could be snacking on the same tree, and some needles would be fine, while other needles one limb over would be super toxic?! These cows haven't had much access to needles for several years now, but initially the older cows would devour them once they returned to the trees after calving. I don't see that in these younger cows, so I partially attributed eating needles as a learned behavior in this herd.
 

strawking

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We usually have this problem if we get an early blizzard and we can't get there with hay in time. Also did you cake them? Feeding protein, cake of alfalfa, will push them to eating pine needles. And some years they just eat them for what reason I don't know. I heard once that it takes 3 lbs. to make them abort. And I have also seen them standing up on their hind legs eating needles with plenty of grass hay rolled out 5 feet away and not abort!?!
 

gcreekrch

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All pines are toxic. The red needles will abort them too. Usually get hit if we are trying to make our cows push the envelope too far. Young cows seem to be more affected.

WP, if those cows knew they were headed home and had gathered themselves into a corner where there were pines until they got a little hungry, they would have started browsing. By any chance had the temperature also had a significant drop?
 

LazyWP

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gcreekrch said:
All pines are toxic. The red needles will abort them too. Usually get hit if we are trying to make our cows push the envelope too far. Young cows seem to be more affected.

WP, if those cows knew they were headed home and had gathered themselves into a corner where there were pines until they got a little hungry, they would have started browsing. By any chance had the temperature also had a significant drop?

The young cows hung out in the corner by the gate, from the time I turned them in to that pasture. They hadn't been content all summer either. We had weaned the calves 2 weeks earlier, and the cows acted like they wanted to go back after their calves, but we always wean in late September, then keep the cows until the first of November. I don't know what the deal was, but I doubt that I will be grazing this pasture last for quite some time.
 

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