Dust and Exercise

Posted December 2nd, 2014 — Filed in Stockmanship

Question:    Here in SW Nebraska, we have had a very dry fall and winter so far coupled with some really warm days along with some wind.  This is not particularly unusual for us, but it does create a high level of health challenges in our feedlot setting.  On the one hand, the calves need to be exercised and worked with, but on the other hand the dust often just billows up around them.  On windy, low-humidity days, the whole yard can be quite dusty.  We often water down the pens for new incoming calves.  We see this as necessary but it is time-consuming and requires extra labor to get the job done (we are not equipped with big-guns and under-ground pressurized waterlines like some of the big yards). Putting down bedding or strawing the pens helps but doesn’t eliminate the whole problem, plus it does get expensive.  Those of you who have grass traps and grassy areas to exercise cattle have an advantage over those of us who don’t have that privilege.  So far, we just do the best we can with what we have to work with.  Any advice other than changing locations?

Answer:    I’ve heard Bud discuss this many times and he always figured the mental and physical benefits that “correctly exercising” the cattle outweighed the negative of inhaling the dust. In fact, getting them moving encourages coughing which helps to clear the lungs.