Farm Talk


July 14, 2012

Evaluate cattle for hair shedding

Parsons, Kansas — Now is a good time to look your beef cows over closely to determine who has shed their winter coat and who is not according to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“Ideally, all cows should be as slick as moles by mid-June or even by mid-May. However, some cows are slow shedders,” said Cole.

The slow shedders are more prone to heat stress and high body temperatures. These problems result in slower gains, lower milk output for nursing calves and poorer reproductive rates. All-in-all they tend to be less profitable.

Slow shedders can even have more exaggerated hair problems if they are grazing endophyte infected, toxic fescue according to Cole.

“Since fescue is the dominant forage in southwest Missouri, we seem to have become accustomed to seeing cattle with unusually long haircoats this time of year. Excessive hair is viewed as a liability in the summer on feeder cattle as most feedlots are not well equipped to handle long haired, heat stress prone cattle,” said Cole.

Hair shedding is a moderately heritable trait at 0.35. Persons wishing to select for early shedding should be able to make progress. Those with “hot” fescue pastures that produce high levels of the ergot-like toxins, should find this selection pressure worthwhile.

However, some cow-calf producers prefer cattle that grow hair and hold on to it. Examples would be those who show cattle or sell club calves.

Researchers use a scoring system to keep track of shedding. Cole says it is a good tool to use when monitoring your own heard. A one score is very slick and shiny. A two is mostly shed off. A three is half shed off. A four is just beginning to slip hair along its topline and the fore part of its body. A five score indicates no signs of hair shedding.

“Your hair observations may not be that precise just as long as you can document who sheds early and who doesn’t,” said Cole. “Not only is hair shedding heritable, it seems to be repeatable from year-to-year. Some breeds definitely slick off earlier and nutritional and health factors may influence shedding rates.”

Cows calving in the fall months may hold their hair a little longer than spring calvers, but normally slick off as soon as their calves are weaned. Cole says this is especially noted if they’re on “hot” fescue.

There are numerous traits cattle breeders consider when making breeding decisions. Those traits should be highly economical such as growth, carcass merit and milk production. Cole says perhaps the ability to shed early should be added to that list.

“Some AI sire directories mention early shedding as a favorable trait but there is not an expected progeny difference (EPD) for it at this time,” said Cole.

For more information, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102, Andy McCorkill in Dallas County at (417) 345-7551 or Dona Goede in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.£


Text Only
  • As heat, humidity set in, consider livestock heat stress as danger

    The heat and humidity of summer are arriving in many parts of Nebraska this week, and a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educator is offering tips on how to handle livestock in these potentially dangerous conditions.

    July 29, 2014

  • Cattle markets likely topped for now

    Most of Oklahoma received rain in the past week with roughly half the state receiving one to over three inches and a few areas receiving even heavier rains that filled ponds which have been low or dry for many months.
    Forage growth, which had just begun to stall under summer heat, has picked back up.  Summer heat is forecast to return this week and, along with high humidity from recent rain, will lead to sweltering heat indices that will impact both cattle and the producers who care for them.

    July 22, 2014

  • Follow BQA guidelines when treating and selling cows

    Summer time often brings a few infectious ailments to beef cows.  Common problems include eye infections and foot rot.

    July 15, 2014

  • Mixed emotions in the beef industry

    The beef industry is experiencing a wide range of emotions at the current time.  The level of excitement is obvious as cattle and beef prices have pushed even beyond record levels of earlier this year.

    July 8, 2014

  • Heat impacts bull fertility

    Recently a producer asked about the impact that the heat of the summer of 2012 may have had on the reduced calf crop that was discovered the following spring.

    July 1, 2014

  • charolaisXheifer.jpg Summer cattle market conditions

    Summer officially started this past weekend and cattle markets so far have shown little of the seasonal pressure that has been expected.

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Monitor medicated mineral intake

    Medicated minerals are available and frequently used to help prevent the blood-born disease, anaplasmosis. A consistent and appropriate intake of the mineral is critical to a successful anaplasmosis prevention program.

    June 17, 2014

  • Should cow/calf producers lock in fall calf prices?

     In recent article, I discussed record high feeder cattle prices as well as the lack of profits for current feedlot placements. While current price levels offer little or no profit opportunity for buyers of feeder cattle, those same prices could result in record or near record profits for cow-calf producers this year.

    June 10, 2014

  • Feeder cattle markets red hot

    Widespread rains over the Memorial weekend may have curtailed holiday activities but were enthusiastically welcomed by cattle producers in the Southern Plains.

    June 3, 2014

  • Is beef herd expansion underway?

    The effects of many years of cattle herd liquidation and the inevitable decreases in beef production have become glaringly obvious in 2014. Cattle slaughter is down 6.3 percent leading to a 5.7 percent decrease in beef production so far this year.

    May 28, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Seasonal Content