Your Best Shot at Preventing Calf Scours

Your Best Shot at Preventing Calf Scours

Kevin Cain, DVM Technical Service Director
Multimin® USA, An Axiota Company

As the days get shorter, fall harvest and preg checks signal that it’s time to start preparing for calving season. While the anticipation of a new calf crop and new genetics is exciting, calving season always comes with plenty of challenges. Weather-related events, dystocia, cows not claiming calves, sickness in young calves, and lack of sleep can all wreak havoc on producers. But of these challenges, neonatal calf diarrhea has the greatest impact on calf health and performance outcomes.  

Neonatal calf diarrhea is a disease that typically affects calves during the first 30 days after birth.  Pathogens such as E. coli, Cryptosporidium and bovine rotavirus and coronavirus are the predominant causative agents leading to acute diarrhea, severe dehydration, and death if not caught early and treated.  These pathogens are shed in feces of adult cattle, causing environmental contamination in calving areas, resulting in transmission to newborn calves.  Calf scours is the cause of 57% of mortalities in unweaned calves. Dealing with scouring calves can be costly and unrewarding for producers. To prevent the hardship of this challenge, it’s critical to focus on three key areas – management, nutrition and colostrum quality.


Considering neonatal diarrhea pathogens reside in feces, management of calving facilities is crucial for prevention. Depending on your calving system, producers should consider animal density per calving area or pen and cleaning out confined calving spaces frequently. But even despite these best efforts to maintain sanitation and prevent scours, there are external factors that cause management challenges, such as weather, available space and equipment limitations.


Providing proper nutrition is often easier to control than environmental management.   A cow’s nutritional status during the last trimester of gestation impacts several critical factors such as immune response to scour vaccines, quantity and quality of colostrum, level of antibodies in colostrum, and her the calf’s health and survival after birth.  A complete nutrition program includes sources of energy, protein, and minerals – both macro and micro. Trace minerals such as copper, zinc, manganese, and selenium are required in very small amounts in the diet; however, if the feed source is trace mineral deficient prior to calving, fetal development, colostrum production and immune function can be affected. These trace minerals are critical for supporting colostrum quality and antibodies which impact the innate immune system, providing protection from calf scours.

Oral supplements are required throughout the year to supply key trace minerals, but an oral program alone can present several challenges such as seasonal and individual intake variations, and low absorption due to antagonists, such as iron, sulfur, molybdenum, and calcium.  Antagonists are present in the soil, forage, and water and can decrease copper absorption by 62%. Drought can be another challenge that impacts forage quality and availability which can lead to low BCS scores prior to calving, increasing the risk for weak calves. During these challenges, cattle need additional supplemental support. Injectable trace minerals (ITMs) quickly and effectively improve trace mineral status of cattle during critical events as they change trace minerals levels in the blood within 8-10 hours and are stored in the liver within 24 hours.  They are highly absorbed, do not compete against antagonists in the rumen and can quickly supplement cows grazing deficient forages, thus making ITMs a great complement to a good oral program during drought conditions or even normal grazing.

The importance of colostrum quality

The third and most critical element to manage in prevention of scours is colostrum quality. Good quality colostrum and consumption within the first few hours after birth is the primary source of maternal antibodies and promotes early protection to defend against bacteria and viruses. Failure of passive transfer occurs due to poor quality colostrum, reduced or delayed colostrum intake, or malabsorption.  Poor quality colostrum does not provide adequate levels of antibodies or IgG, and thus the calf does not have adequate protection against pathogens and is more susceptible to scours. 

While colostrum supplies vital antibodies, it contains virtually no trace minerals. This absence is compensated for by the transfer of trace minerals from the cow to fetus through the placenta during the last trimester. This nutrient transfer will have a major impact on calf’s health and trace mineral status in the first 100-150 days. A calf is born with 2-4 times the liver trace mineral status of the cow – so ensuring the cow is well supplemented in the third trimester to prepare for cow-to-calf transfer is critical.

Strategic injection of trace minerals at pregnancy check or scour vaccination has shown to be an effective method to stimulate the cow’s immune system, support cow-to-calf trace mineral transfer and increase antibody levels in the colostrum.  Studies indicate that administering ITMs at time of scour vaccination to bred cows and heifers during the last trimester has resulted in higher antibody titer levels, creating a more robust immune response to scour vaccine, thus increasing colostrum antibodies and enhancing protection from scours. Therefore, a trace mineral injection during the last trimester can be considered a 3 for 1 dose, supplementing the cow, fetus, and colostrum quality, resulting in better ROI and protection from calf scours.

A management tool for successful calving

Ensuring cows receive key trace minerals prior to calving is necessary to support colostrum production, cow-to-calf trace mineral transfer and cow and calf health. Supporting a good oral program with injectable trace minerals during periods of high demand and stress, such as pre-calving time, provides confidence that every animal treated is supplemented with the trace minerals needed for a healthy start. A well supplemented herd will see enhanced vaccine response and improved colostrum quality, delivering better protection against calf scours and peace of mind for the producer at calving time.

Please consult with your local veterinarian on proper use of injectable trace minerals and formulating vaccination and herd health protocols for calving season.

Impacting Your Herd's Reproduction-The Importance of Trace Minerals

Impacting Your Herd's Reproduction-The Importance of Trace Minerals

Jerry Rusch, DVM

Trace minerals are needed in very small amounts but are critical to optimize the reproductive performance of the heifer, cow and bull to impact overall conception.  The trace minerals that are usually discussed and have an impact on the reproductive performance are copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), Selenium (Se) and Manganese (Mn). In the heifer and cow, copper is essential for puberty, estrus and ovulation, as well as embryo survival and low conception.  Zinc is essential for estrus and normal parturition.  Selenium deficiency has been linked to retained placentas, ovarian cysts and low conception rates. Manganese is important for estrus and the formation of the corpus luteum which maintains pregnancy. In the bull, copper is essential for libido and normal sperm production. Zinc is essential for growth, puberty, libido, testicular size and testosterone biosynthesis.  Selenium is important for sperm viability. Manganese is needed for normal sperm production and testicle size.  Overall, the trace minerals play an integral role in the reproductive performance of a herd.

In the heifer and cow, the optimal time for MULTIMIN® 90 injectable trace minerals is 30 days pre-breeding. University conducted trials have shown an increase in overall herd conception rates with more calves conceived either by artificial insemination or on first bull breeding resulting in more calves born early in the calving season.







Another optimal time to give a MULTIMIN® 90 injection is precalving which usually occurs before the last trimester when pregnancy checks or at scour vaccine administration are performed.  During the last trimester of pregnancy, the cow pulls trace minerals from her liver into her blood stream which flows through the placenta into the umbilical vein of the calf.   The trace minerals are then deposited into the developing fetus’s liver. This stacking is the reason MULTIMIN® 90 is given to the pregnant cow because it raises her liver levels when she will be recruiting them for her developing fetus. This helps to keep her trace mineral levels from plummeting too low which can result in retained placentas, uterine infections and mastitis.

This trace mineral injection is to be used in conjunction with a consistently provided oral trace mineral program.  The injection helps bridge the gap when cow’s need for trace minerals are highest and avoids issues such as low, inconsistent oral trace mineral consumption, low absorption rates of oral trace minerals, and the tying up of oral trace minerals in the rumen (antagonism). Cattle do not eat mineral based on their need. Consumption is only affected by added salt and position of the mineral source in relation to the water source.

In the bull the optimal time for MULTIMIN® 90 injectable trace minerals is 45-60 days prebreeding which usually corresponds to the time a Breeding Soundness Exam or semen fertility test should be done. In developing bulls, an injection should be given at weaning and then 90 days later. A Kansas State study showed that developing bulls given this two-injection protocol of MULTIMIN® 90 had improved sperm motility, sperm morphology and a higher passage rate of their Breeding Soundness Exam.

MULTIMIN® 90 should be given under the skin along the neck as the lowest injection following Beef Quality Assurance Guidelines.  The dose of MULTIMIN® 90 is calculated using the age and weight of the animal. Heifers and bulls 1 to 2 years of age are dosed at 1 cc per 150 pounds bodyweight with cows and bulls 2 years of age and older dosed at 1cc per 200 pounds bodyweight subcutaneously.

MULTIMIN® 90 injectable trace mineral is an integral to maintaining and improving a herd’s reproductive efficiency. Talk to your veterinarian about MULTIMIN® 90.



Fueling the Calf's Immune System-The Importance of Trace Minerals

Fueling the Calf's Immune System-The Importance of Trace Minerals

Jerry Rusch, DVM

Trace minerals are an essential part of fueling a calf’s immune system even though they are needed in only small amounts.  Development of a calf’s immune system is essential to optimize health, growth and ultimately profit.  These trace minerals are copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), Selenium (Se) and Manganese (Mn).   Collectively, these trace minerals impact a calf’s ability to respond to vaccine and disease challenges.  Copper affects the T cell response to disease and the ability of the body’s neutrophils to kill and consume invading bacteria and viruses.   In addition, copper is needed to develop hair color and strength.  Zinc is important for thymus gland development, which is the source of T cells which fight diseases.  Zinc is also important for skin health which protects against an invading organisms’ entry.  Selenium is needed for B cell response and antibody production.  Selenium is also essential for neutrophils to travel to the site of infection and to kill invading bacteria and viruses.  Manganese is associated with proper skeletal and joint formation.  All of these minerals are also involved in the body’s’ ability to handle oxygen free radicals which cause tissue damage.

During the last trimester of pregnancy, the cow pulls trace minerals from her liver to her blood stream which flows through the placenta into the umbilical vein of the calf.   The trace minerals are then deposited into the developing fetus’s liver.  This stacking is the reason MULTIMIN® 90 is given to the pregnant cow.  It will raise her liver trace mineral levels that she will be using for her developing fetus.

beef calf immune system



dairy calf immune system



When the calf is born, the colostrum is an immediate source of disease fighting antibodies, but it is a very poor sources of trace minerals and does little to impact the amount needed immediately for optimal development.  Other disease fighting cells come from the thymus gland.  Like colostrum, milk is also a very poor source of trace minerals.  Giving an injection at birth, when you are handling the calf to do such procedures as tagging and weighing, can help improve and elevate their trace mineral status.  In beef calves, this injection and one again at 70-90 days of age (branding) are also important because 75% of these trace minerals will have been consumed within the first 60 days.   A third injection at the first preconditioning shot or at weaning will be needed to fuel the immune system optimizing the response to the vaccines given at that time.

University studies showed that supplementing dairy calves with MULTIMIN® 90 injectable trace minerals, boosted their antioxidant levels and made the calves` own defense systems against disease stronger. This led to decreased scours cases and also less pneumonia, ear infection or both.

Studies also indicated that calves treated with MULTIMIN® 90 at the same time as vaccines had improved overall health and immune response to the vaccines and thus provide maximum growth and producer profit.

New study data indicated that treating pregnant cows and heifers with MULTIMIN® 90 along with scours prevention vaccine before calving, tended to increase the colostrum quality. The calves that consumed the better-quality colostrum tended to have more specific antibodies for better scours protection. MULTIMIN® 90 injectable trace mineral is an integral part of a herd health and calf vaccination program.  Talk to your veterinarian about MULTIMIN® 90. MULTIMIN® 90 should be given under the skin along the neck as the lowest injection following Beef Quality Assurance Guidelines.  This dose of MULTIMIN® 90 is calculated using the age and weight of the animal with calves up to one year of age receiving 1 cc per 100 pounds bodyweight subcutaneously.

Four Hurdles of Trace Mineral Nutrition in the Closeup Dry Cow

Four Hurdles of Trace Mineral Nutrition in the Closeup Dry Cow

Craig J. Louder, DVM
Technical Service Veterinarian MULTIMIN® 90

Four Hurdles of Trace Mineral Nutrition in the Closeup Dry Cow​We are all familiar with mineral imbalances in dairy cows; the recently freshened cow that can’t stand up, and has her head turned into her side with cold ears.  When this situation is encountered, we immediately recognize the condition as milk fever or hypocalcemia.  Milk fever is caused by excessive demand for calcium that cannot be met by the cows’ current diet and her inability to mobilize calcium stores from her bones in a timely manner.  Research has shown that nutrition management practices in the close-up dry period can help to reduce this macromineral deficiency.  While macromineral deficiencies are easy to recognize, microminerals play just as important of a role in the health and performance of the cow, but since these deficiencies generally don’t lead to a classic syndrome such as milk fever, the effects of imbalances are harder to identify.

Macrominerals, or electrolytes, are minerals that the body needs large quantities of to perform biological functions.  Around calving, the cows’ requirements for calcium exceeds what she is consuming and retaining in the body.  To overcome this hurdle, we feed a ration that is designed to trick the cows’ body into thinking that there is insufficient calcium, causing her to start pulling calcium out of her skeletal reserves.  Just as this is a hurdle for macromineral nutrition, there are four major hurdles that must be addressed for microminerals in the closeup dry cow as well: intake, absorption, excretion, and antagonism.


As cows get closer to parturition, their dry matter intake is reduced significantly.  In the last week of gestation, a cow’s dry matter intake can be reduced by as much as 90%. A couple of factors cause this reduction.  The first is due to physiologic changes in the cow.  The developing fetus has occupied more room in the abdomen reducing the amount of space for the rumen.  The increased weight of pregnancy also causes the cow to spend more time laying down and less time eating.  In addition to these physiologic changes, management practices of feeding anionic salts to prevent milk fever leads to a decrease in palatability of the ration. If the estimated intakes are less than what the ration was balanced for, it is very likely that our mineral needs are not being met simply due to decreased intakes.


Getting cows to eat the ration that contains the trace minerals is only the beginning of the battle.  Once inside the cow, these minerals must still be absorbed into the blood stream. Depending on the mineral and the form in which the mineral is found, cows may absorb as little as 1% of the mineral that is consumed. Feeding organic or hydroxy minerals can greatly increase this absorption.  These mechanisms help protect the mineral from the rumen environment and allows the minerals to be absorbed in the small intestines along with the nutrient to which they are attached.    


Since only a percentage of what is consumed from the ration is able to be absorbed, the remainder of the minerals are going to pass through the cow and be excreted in the feces.  In addition to what is excreted in the feces, as minerals are absorbed from the gut into the blood stream, the kidneys will filter some of those trace minerals out excreting them in the urine.  Events that raise the serum mineral concentration such as stress, illness, vaccine, or fetal development leads to increases in urinary excretion. Biliary excretion makes up the final major method of mineral excretion from the body.


Minerals don’t like being by themselves; they always come to the party with a partner.  Once to the party, they often break apart exposing themselves to other minerals.  As minerals bind up to some of these new partners, they can become less absorbable by the cow.  Most of these processes take place in the rumen, but some antagonism can even occur in the blood stream.  Sulfur, calcium, iron, and molybdenum are some of the major mineral antagonists.  During the close-up period, sulfur is often fed at higher levels in an attempt to help in the prevention of milk fever (hypocalcemia). Feeding levels above 0.3% of the diet of sulfur can decrease the absorption of copper by over 30%. Since cows still need to be fed these minerals for normal biological function, eliminating these antagonists from the diet is not feasible, but assuring that proper levels are fed without excess is important to minimize negative mineral interactions in the body.

The transition period of a dairy cow has a high demand for trace minerals, but also magnifies these four hurdles of trace mineral nutrition more than at any other time during her lactation. Recognizing these hurdles helps us to implement strategies to assure that mineral needs are met for the cow.  Feeding organic or hydroxy minerals can help to increase absorption and protect the mineral from antagonism in the rumen.  During the close-up and fresh period, utilization of injectable trace minerals can help to overcome decreased feed intakes while also avoiding rumen mineral antagonism.  Injectable trace minerals have also been shown to rapidly increase the trace mineral status of the cow within hours because of the high rate of absorption.  Assuring proper trace mineral status is critical in maximizing the health and reproductive potential of the herd.

Calf Scour Prevention in Your Herd

Calf Scour Prevention in Your Herd

Jerry Rusch, DVM

Neonatal Calf Diarrhea affects newborn calves and those less than 30 days old. It is responsible for 80% of sickness and 57%  of deaths in unweaned calves in the United States. This problem has a significant impact on the calves’ health and is a major driver in the profitability of a ranch or dairy.

The most common causes of acute diarrhea in calves are Escherichia coli, Cryptosporidium sp., Bovine rotavirus (BRV) and Bovine coronavirus (BCoV), accounting for 75-95% of infections worldwide. Other causes can include Salmonealla sp and Coccidosis.

E. coli is a bacteria that is commonly encountered in calves from three to five days of age. Although it is a normal resident of the intestines, disease-causing strains produce toxins that damage the intestinal lining resulting in diarrhea, dehydration, shock and death. Mortality can be especially high in younger calves. Diagnosis is made by culturing the organisms from the intestine on necropsy. Treatment can include antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents for their anti-toxin properties. Fluid and electrolyte replacement, warmth and probiotics should also be included. Vaccines are available for E. coli prevention that are given to the dam precalving. In addition, there are oral vaccines available to give the calf at birth. If a vaccine is used, it should include the K-99 antigen.

Calf Scour Prevention & Control at a Glance

1. Using MULTIMIN® 90 strategically to ensure adequate trace mineral level in the dam & calf

2. Vaccinating the cow/heifer for scours pre-calving

3. Cow/Heifer segregation

4. Ensuring a dry, clean calving environment

5. Moving pairs to fresh pasture posting calving

6. Ensuring adequate colostral intake

calf scoursCryptosporidium is a protozoal organism similar to coccidia and causes diarrhea in calves from two to five weeks of age. This organism affects all animals including humans so proper sanitation should be practiced while dealing with a scouring calf to prevent human transmission. Crypto is resistant to disinfectants and is not affected by most medications. Diagnosis is by a fecal examination. Supportive therapy of fluid and electrolyte replacement, warmth and probiotics are the treatments of choice.

Bovine rotavirus (BRV), and Bovine coronavirus (BCoV) are both viruses that cause diarrhea but at different ages. Both infect the intestinal cells and cause a variable degree of damage to the intestinal lining. Rotavirus usually affects calves at 7 to 10 days of age while Coronavirus is at 7 to 15 days of age. Both viruses are frequently found in feces of healthy adult cattle, which serves as a source of environmental contamination and herd transmission. Many cases of Rotavirus are fatal, especially in the younger calves. Coronavirus infected calves are usually not as ill as Rotavirus calves and the mortality is not as high. Both are diagnosed by fecal examination under an electron microscope. Treatment includes supportive therapy of fluid and electrolyte replacement, warmth and probiotics.

A combination vaccine against Coronavirus and Rotavirus is effective and commercially available. These are given to pregnant cows prior to calving to increase the antibody levels in their colostrum for the calf to consume. It is important to ensure that the calf nurses and intakes an adequate amount of the colostrum. An initial vaccination and booster followed by yearly vaccination is required. Most of these vaccines also contain E. coli as well. There are also oral vaccines and boluses available that are given to the calf at birth. Vaccination becomes more beneficial if used in conjunction with proper management practices. Many times, more than one pathogen is involved in a scouring calf. Treatment of these coinfections can include antibiotics if a bacterial component is identified.

An infected calf can be a multiplier and a spreader of the infectious agent to other calves and the environment. To help decrease this spread, there are some management practices that should be employed. Calving cows and heifers separately to facilitate monitoring the heifers closely and to decrease the exposure of pathogens from the cows is extremely important. Sorting the dams into groups based on the approximate calving date can also be very helpful. In addition, calving cows and heifers on calving grounds separate from the pre-calving pasture will decrease pathogen exposure to the newborn calf.

It is important to sure that the calving pastures are dry, well drained and devoid of any manure buildup, as pathogens need a moist environment to multiply and survive. If you have a dystocia area, make sure it is dry and clean to help prevent issues. Another way to avoid mud and calf illness is to adjust the calving dates to a time of year when the weather is less stressful and the environment is easier to manage. Lastly, make sure all treatment equipment including balling guns, tube feeders and nipple bottles are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between each use to prevent disease transmission.

calf scours

There are many factors that affect whether a calf will get scours or not. Some important factors are the calf’s nutritional status, immune system status, trace mineral status and the ability of the intestinal barrier to prevent the colonization of organisms. Calves in a poor plane of nutrition either due to the dam’s milk production ability or the calf’s nursing ability are more susceptible to disease including scours. Closely tied to the nutritional status is the immune status of the calf. Calves receive their disease fighting antibodies from the colostrum they receive in the first 24 hours of life. The absorption of colostrum is optimal up to 6 hours and rapidly declines until no further absorption occurs after 24 hours of age.

Multiple studies have shown the correlation in the increase of risk of disease and death in calves that received inadequate colostrum amount or quality. In fact, this risk carries through all the way to the feedlot. Trace mineral status is integral to the development of the immune system and disease response in calves. Multiple studies have shown improvement of immune status and response in calves supplemented with injectable trace minerals at strategic times. During the last trimester of pregnancy, the dam recruits trace minerals from her liver into the blood stream that is then shared via the umbilical vein and deposited in the calf’s liver to stack the calf’s liver with trace minerals. When the calf is born, these trace minerals are mobilized and utilized for many functions including the development and differentiation of immune cells. Several of these trace minerals are utilized at an exponential rate and replenishment is necessary to maintain optimal growth and immune system function since the milk diet of a calf is a poor source of these trace minerals.

Another consideration in disease expression in the calf is the dam’s nutritional status, immune system status and her trace mineral status. Cows and heifers in poor nutritional status will produce lower quality colostrum and less milk, which will result in more disease incidence in their calves. This also affects her immune system and the quality and amounts of immunoglobulins in the colostrum she produces for her calf. Due to the nature of how trace minerals are transferred to the fetus during the last trimester of pregnancy, a cow or heifer with poor trace mineral levels in her liver will transfer less to her fetus. This results in a calf that is born with low trace minerals and can allow such issues as White Muscle Disease, due to low Selenium, and bone and cartilage deformities, due to low Manganese, to occur.

Using an injectable trace mineral (ITM) like MULTIMIN® 90 containing Copper, Zinc, Manganese and Selenium, offers the benefit of a known and controlled amount of these minerals that is delivered to the cow and calf. It is also well documented that this ITM results in a rapid and immediate absorption and liver storage following administration. In addition, the administration of ITM has shown beneficial effects on the immune response against viral and bacterial respiratory pathogens and improved response to administered vaccines.

A recent study using MULTIMIN® 90 at the time of scour vaccine administration to pregnant heifers suggested an increase immune response and higher, colostral immunoglobulin levels and higher antibody titers to Bovine Coronavirus in calves. This offers an additional management tool in the fight against calf scours.

Neonatal calf diarrhea is a major driver of profitability in beef herds due to treatment costs and death. Utilizing management practices including vaccination and MULTIMIN® 90 injectable trace mineral can help a herd decrease the incidence of calf scours and increase profits.

Republished with permission from MWI Animal Health. Source: Producer Outlook, Fall 2021

If the Drought Continues, What Could I Expect Will Be the Nutritional Effects on the Cow Herd?

If the Drought Continues, What Could I Expect Will Be the Nutritional Effects on the Cow Herd?

John Paterson, PhD Emeritus Professor from Montana State University Consultant for MULTIMIN® 90

Reduced forage intake caused by drought can have an adverse effect on reproductive efficiency, especially if cows are thin at calving. Cows that enter the winter in poor body condition can have lower survivability, but they also have a greater chance to have a weak calf, produce an inadequate quality and quantity of colostrum for their calves, have a calf with a reduced weaning weight and fail to rebreed during the next breeding season.  Adult cows need to calve in a body condition score (BCS) of 5.5-6.0 while bred heifers need to be in even better condition than adult cows.

When facing drought conditions during the breeding season it appears the rancher has two choices to consider: supplement the deficient nutrients and/or reduce the size of the cow herd to match reduced forage available. When dealing with drought, remember to provide the big nutrients first by asking two questions: Is there adequate protein and/ or energy (TDN) in the diet? What symptoms are the cows showing during or after a drought? Do you observe an increase in respiratory sickness (immune system), is there decreased reproductive efficiency (lowered conception), a change in hair color (red hair on an Angus) and finally did cows not “clean” after calving (retained placenta)? If you answered yes to these observations, then there may also be a mineral deficiency.

Both macro minerals (required in larger quantities, such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium) and micro minerals (required in smaller quantities such as copper, zinc, selenium, and manganese) can cause decreased conception, delayed estrus, abnormal estrus, depressed immunity, and reduced forage intake. Subclinical trace mineral deficiencies probably occur more frequently than recognized by most producers and may be a larger problem than an acute mineral deficiency. This is because the rancher does not see specific symptoms that are characteristic of a trace mineral deficiency. With a subclinical deficiency, the animal grows or reproduces at a reduced rate, uses feed less efficiently and operates with a depressed immune system.

However, the major disadvantage to free-choice minerals is lack of uniform daily consumption by animals. Factors which influence consumption of loose minerals include: (1) soil fertility and forage type, (2) season of year, (3) available energy and protein, (4) individual requirements, (5) salt and mineral content of water, (6) palatability of mineral mixture, and (7) physical form of the minerals. An injection of trace minerals containing copper, zinc, selenium, and manganese provided by MULTIMIN® 90 can quickly overcome some of these problems by complementing the free choice fed mineral containing these trace minerals.

Antagonists in water or forage such as molybdenum, sulfur and iron can reduce the availability & digestibility of trace minerals.

Feed and/or water sources that are high in sulfur caused by drought can induce a copper deficiency in cattle despite adequate copper intake. This is because sulfur and molybdenum separately or together can form insoluble complexes in the rumen with copper and markedly reduce its availability to the animal. High dietary molybdenum in combination with moderate to high dietary sulfur results in formation of thiomolybdates in the rumen which greatly reduce copper absorption. Independent of molybdenum, high dietary sulfur reduces copper absorption probably by the formation of copper sulfide.

Selenium bioavailability is also reduced by high dietary sulfur and high dietary iron can also reduce copper bioavailability.

This is one reason that an injection with MULTIMIN® 90 will overcome ruminal effects on absorption caused by antagonism because research shows that plasma copper, selenium and zinc concentrations increase rapidly after injection compared to an inorganic form fed as a supplement. Work from Iowa State University found a significant boost in trace mineral status within 14 days after calves received an injection of MULTIMIN® 90 compared to calves fed an inorganic and chelated-organic mineral combination which reached the same level after 28 days. The group supplemented with only inorganic minerals took about 45 days to reach the same trace mineral status as the MULTIMIN® 90 calves.


  1. Drought causes a decrease in forage intake which results in decreases in protein, energy and trace mineral consumption.
  2. Cows showing poor body condition (<5) have a greater chance of having a weak calf, producing an inadequate quality and quantity of colostrum for their calves, having a calf with a reduced weaning weight and failure to rebreed during the next breeding season.
  3. During a drought, water quality from ponds may be lowered due to an increase in sulfate and iron. These two minerals plus forage molybdenum cause an antagonism in the rumen which reduces bioavailability of copper and selenium. A MULTIMIN® 90 injection overcomes these antagonisms and has a faster uptake into the blood stream than feeding an inorganic source of minerals.
  4. Thin cows with a body condition score of less than 5 caused by drought appear to be a good candidate for a MULTIMIN® 90 injection.
  5. The use of an injection with MULTIMIN® 90 in conjunction with feeding a loose mineral makes practical sense to prevent a decline in reproduction, immunity and proper response to vaccines.
Learn more about how MULTIMIN® 90 can support your herd in drought conditions and contact your MULTIMIN® USA Technical Sales Representative.

Pregnancy-Check Time Is Critical For Maintaining A Profitable Ranch Operation

Pregnancy-Check Time is Critical for Maintaining a Profitable Ranch Operation!

Is your cow/heifer pregnant? Then it is time for MULTIMIN® 90

Just like human babies, calves thrive better when their moms are in a positive nutritional state during pregnancy. Pregnant cows and heifers also need prenatal supplements such as trace minerals:

Inject MULTIMIN® 90 because:

By injecting MULTIMIN® 90 any time from preg-check to 30 days before calving, you ensure that every pregnant dam is properly supplemented with copper, selenium, zinc and manganese.

add Value to Your Preg-Checking!

At the label dose of 1ml/200lbs body weight for a 1,200lb cow over 2 years of age, the dose for MULTIMIN® 90 is 6ml. This 2-in-1 treatment for the cow and her fetus is less than $3


At weaning, calves need more trace minerals. They are stressed, often not eating enough, and they need to respond properly to vaccines, which also drain trace minerals. However, the calves are growing rapidly, and they may already be trace mineral deficient. 

ab Means with unlike superscripts differ (P < 0.05)

Branum, Jay Christopher. “Impact of Prenatal Dietary Copper Level on Copper Status and Immunity of Newborn and Growing Calves.” Texas A & M University, 1999.

ab Means with unlike superscripts differ (P < 0.05)

Arthington, J. D., et al. “Effects of Trace Mineral Injections on Measures of Performance and Trace Mineral Status of Pre- and Postweaned Beef Calves.” Journal of Animal Science, vol. 92, no. 6, 2014, pp. 2630–2640., doi:10.2527/jas.2013-7164.

make MULTIMIN® 90 a core product in your weaned calf health program!

Several independent university studies showed calves treated with MULTIMIN® 90 at the same time as vaccines had:

For All Calves, Colostrum Holds Key to a Healthy Start

For All Calves, Colostrum Holds Key to a Healthy Start

Jerry Rusch, DVM

A calf is a future herd replacement, breeding candidate or destined as protein on a consumer’s dinner plate. No matter if they are dairy, beef or a cross of the two, a healthy start sets them up for a lifetime of success. The key to giving them a healthy start is the feeding of clean, high quality colostrum, which is the ideal method of transferring proper nutrients and antibodies into newborn calves. The antibodies a calf receives from its mother help ward off disease until its own “naïve” immune system matures and effectively develops its own immune response.

When mother’s colostrum isn’t an option, a colostrum replacer (CR) can be entirely administered to newborns as a healthy alternative; and a colostrum supplement (CS) can be used to boost maternal colostrum.

Here are some tips to make the best decision for feeding colostrum to your newborn calves.

  1. Determine if you need a colostrum replacer or a colostrum supplement. (Also see for quick reference, Table 1, Beef Protocol, within this article.)

    Colostrum replacer. A product that is able to raise serum IgG concentration greater than 10 mg/ml within 24–48 hours after birth, in order to avoid failure of passive transfer (FPT), may be called a colostrum replacer.

    One dose of at least 115g IgG–immunity-transferring proteins commonly called immunoglobulins (IgGs)—is generally accepted to be the minimum required to meet this target, while providing sufficient immunity for disease protection for the calf. Newer industry standards suggest 150–200g for achieving higher successful passive transfer rates. Most replacement products contain at least 115g of Bovine IgG. You can always feed multiple bags of a supplement to reach that same level of IgG. Follow the instructions on the colostrum bag to understand how many bags to feed to replace maternal colostrum.

    Colostrum supplement. In general, products that contain less than 115g IgG per dose are categorized as colostrum supplements. These products are usually in the range of 50–60g IgG per package and, in a single dose, do not provide the calf with sufficient levels of immunity for disease protection. Supplements cannot replace high-quality colostrum, but they can be used to increase the amount of IgG fed to calves when maternal colostrum is partially inadequate either by quantity or quality. Partial contents of a replacement product can be also used as a supplement.

    • How much colostrum is enough? The amount of colostrum needed depends on the quality of colostrum, size of the calf and timing and method of feeding. As a rule, calves should be fed an amount of colostrum equal to 10 percent of their body weight. To reduce calf losses and prepare calves to reach optimum long-term potential, most veterinarians now recommend that calves receive at least 1 gallon or 4 liters of good quality colostrum within the first 6 hours of life. This should provide calves with 150-200g of IgG. Research trials show that calves with higher serum IgG levels have higher long-term productivity, including weight gain and milk production as adults.

    • When should colostrum be fed? The first feeding of colostrum should occur within one hour of birth. Within six hours, a calf’s gut closure reduces absorption of large IgG antibody proteins by as much as one-third. FPT for any reason, including the use of poor-quality colostrum, an insufficient quantity fed, or receiving colostrum too late and gut closure begins (in which openings in a calf’s gut lining shrink and become too small for large proteins such as IgGs to pass) can leave a calf vulnerable to disease and can even compromise its development and future performance.

  2. When choosing products, read and compare labels for IgG content and product effectiveness.

    • Colostrum replacers vary in their makeup. Some are derived from bovine colostrum, while others from blood serum or a combination of the two. Products listed as real colostrum contain colostrum collected from dairy cattle that has been dried and heat-treated or irradiated to inactivate harmful agents such as those that cause Johne’s disease and mycoplasmosis. Serum products are essentially built from the ground up and use collected blood as the source of antibodies for the calf.

    • Determine if the product is labeled with a claim for Bovine IgG or globulin proteins. IgG, more specifically IgG1, are the actual antibodies that protect the young calf from pathogens that may cause scours and respiratory diseases. Globulin proteins are comprised of a variety of other proteins as well as the IgG antibodies. To determine what percentage of the globulin protein is IgG, read the label to see what specific IgG level the package is guaranteed to contain.

      As discussed above, one dose of at least 115g IgG is generally accepted to be the minimum required in order to avoid failure of passive transfer (FPT), while providing sufficient immunity for disease protection for the calf. Feeding more colostrum is strongly recommended when calves are stressed, sanitation is poor or calfhood disease is high.

    • Determine if the product is licensed by the USDA as a total replacement for maternal colostrum. A colostrum product that is licensed by the USDA guarantees the product’s potency or effectiveness in transferring immunity to calves within the first 12 hours of life. Licensed colostrum replacement products are classified as biologicals and are regulated by federal government agencies—in the U.S. by the USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics and in Canada by the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency.

  3. Don’t forget about colostral fat. A newborn calf requires colostral immunity along with an adequate source of natural colostral fat, hormones, growth factors, vitamins and minerals. The function of colostrum is to transfer all of these components from dam to calf.

    Colostral fat is a powerful nutrient that stimulates brown fat metabolism, which acts as an important source of energy required by the calf immediately after birth. For calves born into cold conditions and calves that have had a difficult or prolonged birth, this is especially important for regulating body temperature.

    Newborn calves have a narrow thermal-neutral zone—59°–77°F (15–25°C). Either colder or warmer, a calf needs additional energy to maintain metabolism. Therefore, the administration of high-quality colostrum containing natural colostral fat as soon as possible after birth helps calves defend themselves against cold stress.

    The USDA estimates that 95,000 calves die each year due to cold stress. The majority of young calf deaths occur within 24 hours after birth and often because calves fail to receive the energy they need to survive. Newborn calves have a narrow thermal-neutral zone—59°–77°F (15–25°C). Either colder or warmer, a calf needs additional energy to maintain metabolism. Therefore, the administration of high-quality colostrum containing natural colostral fat as soon as possible after birth helps calves defend themselves against cold stress.

    When determining colostral quality, consider both immunoglobulin as well as natural fat concentrations. A good rule is to look for at least 14% colostral fat on the label. A label is your best bet for checking the ingredients and nutritional analysis of colostrum products, and so is the advice of your veterinarian.

  4. Have a plan in place. Late night calvings and cold winter storms are situations that require special attention toward newborn calves. Whatever protocol is best for your ranch, be sure to have a proper plan in place for all members and employees to abide by. Always have colostrum replacers and supplements on hand because you never know when a calf might need one.
Table 1. When to intervene with a colostrum replacer or colostrum supplement.

Republished with permission from MWI Animal Health. Source: Producer Outlook, Winter 2021

Calving Basics: Pointers for Success

Calving Basics: Pointers for Success

Jerry Rusch, DVM

It’s calving time—you’ve done what you can to get your cows and heifers bred and ready for this season. They’re in good shape, you’ve used some of the best genetics yet and have utilized known calving-case sires. All females were confirmed pregnant this past fall with appropriate shots given and are on a good plane of nutrition. You are geared up for calving season. But in order to be fully prepared for this exciting time, consider arming—or at least refreshing—yourself with some knowledge and basic skills for calving cows, while also having necessary supplies gathered and on hand. Unfortunately, a dystocia or difficult calving can be a stressful experience for both bovine and producer.

Prepare with a Plan, Approach

The best way to prepare for a successful calving season is to have a plan in place. You need to decide the schedule that works best for your operation and employees to check the cows and how often. Also have a plan on how to catch the cow and restrain it if intervention is necessary. In addition, you will need a clean area for this to be done with good hygiene. If there is a problem you cannot handle, you will need veterinary assistance. Having a good relationship with a veterinarian is paramount before you need to call on this person to assist with an emergency. Talk to your veterinarian beforehand to formulate a plan in the event you do need help. You can work out details such as when to contact your vet, how best to contact, and other preferences your veterinarian has. Another important to-do: check your equipment and animal health supplies. Make sure you have everything you need before you need it.

Have These Basic Supplies On Hand

For you as a producer, to be prepared to handle a dystocia, you will need some basic supplies on hand. An obstetrical kit containing OB full-arm sleeves, lubricant, a bucket, two clean sanitized OB chains, two OB handles, and a calf extractor/jack should be kept together. This will make it easier to grab and go when a calving emergency arises. Other supplies could include a light source, halter and pen with a head gate to utilize. Medical supplies to have readily accessible should include an injectable broad-spectrum antibiotic, oxytocin, anti-inflammatory and steroids. Consult with your veterinarian to obtain prescriptions products.

Recognize the Three Stages of Normal Parturition

Most times, a cow will not need calving assistance. But in order to know when to intervene, you need to know and recognize the normal stages of parturition.

Stage 1 of the birthing process is dilation of the cervix. This can take several days to complete and you may only notice a clear mucus string from the vagina. At the end of stage 1, uterine contractions start pushing the uterine contents against the cervix, which causes further dilation.

Stage 2 starts with the appearance of membranes (water bag). The calf should then be delivered in a timely fashion (usually 1 hour).

Stage 3 is the passing of the placenta, which can take up to 8–12 hours after the calf is delivered.

Be Familiar with the Causes of Dystocia

The basic causes of dystocia are either fetal/dam mal proportion (calf is too big) or calf mal presentation (calf is positioned incorrectly). Other causes can include cow malnourishment, uterine torsion, fetal monsters, genetic anomalies and twins. Usually uterine torsion, genetic
anomalies, fetal monsters and large calves require veterinary intervention for resolution. Options available to veterinarians include a C-section, which is surgical removal of the calf, or a fetotomy, which is to cut the dead calf into pieces in utero to facilitate removal.

Know When to Intervene

When you first notice a cow in active labor, you should monitor her for hourly progress. If you see a water bag hanging out, wait an hour and if no progress has been made, then do an internal vaginal exam. The exception to the one-hour rule is if a problem is suspected. If so, a vaginal exam should immediately be performed. For example, if one leg and the head are out but there is no sign of the other leg, then immediate intervention is necessary. It is always inadvisable to wait too long for intervention. This is even more important in a heifer versus a cow.

The first step in calving intervention is to safely and properly restrain the cow or heifer. Ideally a head gate and chute with a side gate that can be safely swung open should be utilized. There are situations where a head gate is not possible and a rope and halter will need to be used. In this situation you must be very careful of your safety when reaching into her vagina. Before reaching in, thoroughly clean the vaginal and perineal area of the cow. You can use dish soap or ideally a betadine scrub/solution to clean and then rinse with warm water. Using copious amounts of lubricant and utilizing OB sleeves, examine the cow/heifer internally to determine the alignment and position of the calf. Careful and systemically, palpate the area making sure to get your orientation. Do you feel a head or a tail? Do you feel one foot or two? Which legs are you feeling?

The normal position is head first with the head resting on the extended front legs, all three engaged in the pelvis [Figure 1] You should never apply traction until you have this alignment present. The opposite position is posterior, where the rear legs and tail are coming first [Figure 2] It is impossible to turn a calf that is coming posterior to deliver it head and front feet first.

When Should You Call for Veterinary Intervention

  • If calf is coming rear legs first, the fetal hips should be able to clear the pelvic inlet of the cow. If it feels like the calf will not fit, you will need to call your veterinarian immediately.
  • If both forelimbs and the poll of the head are not engaged in the pelvis, it may not fit and you will need to call your veterinarian.
  • Take note of the time when you first reach in. If you are not making significant progress in an hour or are unsure what you are feeling, call your veterinarian for assistance.
  • Difficulty pulling a calf
  • Large calves
  • Uterine torsion
  • Genetic anomalies
  • Fetal monsters
  • Anytime you feel it is beyond your skill set

Tips to Consider for Correcting Mal Placements

  • Feel for a head and two feet or tail and two feet
  • Do not apply traction unless you have two feet and a head or tail
  • The first and second joints will bend in the same direction on a front leg
  • The first and second joints will bend in opposite directions on a rear leg
  • Be clean and use plenty of OB lube
  • Know your limits and when to call your veterinarian for Assistance

Before applying traction, you should assess whether the calf will fit. If both forelimbs and the poll of the head engage in the pelvis, then that is a good indicator it will be able to be successfully delivered. If it is coming rear legs first, the fetal hips should be able to clear the pelvic inlet of the cow. If it feels like the calf will not fit, you will need to call your veterinarian immediately. Take note of the time when you first reach in. If you are not making significant progress in an hour or are unsure what you are feeling, call your veterinarian for assistance.

When assisting a cow, proper OB chain placement is critical. Make one loop and slide it above the fetlock joint. Then make another half hitch below the joint above the coronary band and below the dewclaws [Figure 3]. This allows for the pressure from pulling to be applied over the
entire fetlock. Failure to apply the second half hitch can result in too much pressure on one spot and a fractured bone.

After proper chain placement on both legs, attach the OB handle and, while using plenty of lube, alternate pressure on one leg then another. Do this in coordination with the cow as she contracts. Remember you are assisting her. In some cases, a calf jack can be used. I would caution that this should only be used by someone who has been properly instructed and has experience using one. If at any time you encounter difficulty or the calf seems stuck, call
your veterinarian

There are Multiple Variations of Abnormal Positions

The two most commonly encountered are breech [Figure 4] and head back [Figure 5]. On a breech calving, you will need to push the calf forward to make room. You can then attempt to grab one hock and pull it up to get it engaged in the pelvic inlet. In some cows there may be enough room to have one arm and hand in to push forward on the calf as you reach in with the other hand to grab and pull the hock up. After getting the hock up, you can slide your hand down and grab the hoof cradling it in your hand. Using your other hand to continue to push forward on the calf, you can pull up and try to engage the rear foot in the pelvis. Once you have one leg up, you repeat the process for the other. This is a difficult maneuver and should only be attempted by an experienced rancher. On a head back calving, you can actually push back and fold the front leg on the side the head is turned. This will allow room to grab the head and engage it in the pelvis. Once the head is brought up, you can then realign the leg and deliver the calf. When you successfully deliver the calf, you should always check to make sure there is not another calf present.

Twins are another possible dystocia cause. In that case it is just a matter of sorting out what legs belong to which calf and pulling one at a time. To determine if it is a front or rear leg, remember this: the first and second joints will bend in the same direction on a front leg, while the joints bend in opposite directions on a rear leg. There are many other possibilities of calving positions. Always work toward getting either the front legs and head or rear legs and pelvis engaged into the dam’s pelvic inlet for delivery. Other previously mentioned issues include uterine torsion, fetal monsters, and genetic anomalies. In those cases, prompt veterinary intervention is necessary.

Calving season can be a very rewarding time of year. By properly preparing the needed equipment and supplies, you can make calving a less stressful time for all involved.

You Have a Live Calf Pulled, Now What?

After successfully getting a live calf on the ground, there are a few things you can do to ensure a healthy calf at weaning. Depending on the status of the cow, you may need to rub the calf down and clear its mouth of any mucus or obstructions. Hanging it upside down is not a good idea as this pushes all the abdominal contents against the diaphragm and hinders breathing. Instead, you can use a piece of straw and put it into the calf’s nose to stimulate sneezing and head shaking to clear the airways.

Next, you need to ensure that the calf consumes colostrum, preferably within 6 hours of birth but definitely before 24 hours. This will provide adequate antibodies to fight disease. Calves that do not intake adequate colostrum can have a 50 percent mortality and are more likely to get sick even later in life in the feedlot.

If the calf will not nurse, ideally you would want to milk out the cow and tube feed the fresh colostrum to the calf. When using a tube feeder, make sure you have been trained in the proper placement, as it is possible to pass the tube down the trachea and into the lungs.1 If you cannot milk the cow, there are numerous commercially available colostrum products to totally replace the dam’s first milk or just supplement it.2

It is also a good time to give an injectable trace mineral like MULTIMIN® 90 to ensure optimal mineral levels for proper immune system development and to prevent deficiency of selenium, zinc, copper and manganese. If there is a chance of fluid in the lungs and a secondary pneumonia, an injectable broad-spectrum antibiotic may be necessary. Depending on the recommendation of your herd health veterinarian, you may also consider an intranasal respiratory vaccine or an oral scour preventative vaccine. This may be deemed necessary, depending on your particular situation.

Having the proper supplies on hand prior to calving season optimizes your calf crop’s survivability and maximizes your economic return.

Republished with permission from MWI Animal Health. Source: Producer Outlook, Winter 2021

Mycotoxins and the Dairy Industry

Mycotoxins and the Dairy Industry

Dan Tracy, DVM


Mycotoxins are toxins that are produced by molds.  Molds that are discussed often as it relates to the dairy industry are Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Fusarium which can be found in forages and grains. Examples of the toxins produced are aflatoxins, vomitoxin, T-2, zearalenone, fumonisin, and ochratoxin.1  Aflatoxins produced by Aspergillus have cancer-causing properties and can be excreted in the milk (AFM1) which is a major concern in the dairy industry as it pertains to public health.2 As a result, aflatoxin levels in the milk are monitored and regulated.  Stored feeds such as corn silage can be contaminated preharvest, especially when the plant is stressed, and or environmental conditions favor mold growth. In addition, contamination can occur during harvest, transport or through improper storage. Dairy cattle are at increased risk because rations typically contain multiple sources of potentially affected feedstuffs. In dairy cattle, consumption of these toxins can have a negative impact on milk production, feed intake, gut health, immune function, and reproductive performance.1 Many forage labs have established methods and guidelines to evaluate forages and grains for the presence of mycotoxins.  Management strategies include eliminating or diluting the feedstuffs with high mycotoxin levels and or including “binders” to reduce the impact of the consumed toxin.

Mycotoxins, Trace Minerals and Oxidative Stress

Mycotoxin are thought to contribute to oxidative stress.3 Oxidants are harmful to cells but are a normal biological byproduct in the body and are kept in check by antioxidants. However, during times of stress, inflammation, or toxin challenge, more oxidants are produced. Oxidative stress occurs when production of oxidants overwhelms the antioxidant capacity of the body and this can lead to a compromised immune system. The Mycotoxins are also toxic and negatively affect organ systems as well. During an aflatoxin challenge, the liver works harder to break down the toxin, undergoes oxidative stress and more protein breakdown occurs in the liver. Trace minerals such as Zinc (Zn), Manganese (Mn), Selenium (Se) and Copper (Cu) play an important role in prevention of oxidative stress because they form part of specific antioxidant enzymes.4

Recently, a trial was conducted by the University of Illinois to evaluate the effects of an injectable trace mineral supplement, containing Zn, Mn, Se, and Cu (MULTIMIN® 90) during an aflatoxin challenge in lactating cows. This study showed that cows that were challenged with aflatoxins and received injectable trace minerals, had a better antioxidant response in their livers to help with the detoxifying process and to help minimize the amount of protein break down that occurs compared to cows that did not receive injectable trace minerals.5

Mycotoxins continue to be a concern of the dairy industry. Continual surveillance and feed management are essential in lessening the impact to health of dairy cattle. Utilizing an ITM may serve as an additional way to lessen the impact though providing the building blocks to maintain the antioxidant status of cattle.

Contact your MULTIMIN® USA Technical Sales Representative to learn more about how MULTIMIN® 90 can help your herd overcome aflatoxin challenges.


  1. Diaz, Durante and Jean-Pierre Jouany. Effects of Mycotoxins in Ruminants. [book auth.] Durante Diaz. [ed.] Durante Diaz. The Mycotoxin Blue Book. Nottinngham : Nottingham University Press, 2005, pp. 295-321.
  2. Galvano, Fabio, Alberto Ritieni, Gianfranco Piva, and Amedeo Pietri. Mycotoxins in the Human Food Chain. [book auth.] Duarte Diaz. The Mycotoxin Blue Book. Nottingham : s.n., 2005.
  3. Surai, Peter F., and Julia E. Dvorska. Effects of Mycotoxins on Antioxidant Status and Immunity. [book auth.] Duarte Diaz. The Mycotoxin Blue Book. Nottingham : s.n., 2005.
  4. Suttle, Neville. Mineral Nutrition of Livestock 4th Edition. Cambridge : CABI, 2010. 978-1-84593-427-9.
  5. Injectable trace minerals (selenium, copper, zinc, and manganese) alleviate inflammation and oxidative stress during an aflatoxin.Pate, R.T. and F. C. Cardoso. 2018, Journal of Dairy Science, pp. 8532-8543.