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Veterinary Medicine

New Field Investigation Unit solves problems with an approach akin to CSI: Livestock

March 31, 2013
by Coleman Cornelius

Livestock veterinarians and experts in disease diagnostics and herd management at Colorado State University have launched a Field Investigation Unit to help livestock producers solve multipronged problems in herd health and management.

Barb Powers, director of the CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, announced the new consultation service during the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association 2014 Mid-Winter Conference, which brings together hundreds of beef producers for discussions about critical topics in the beef industry.

"CSI: Livestock" 

The new unit might be considered CSI: Livestock. The team digs into production problems, with experts representing multiple perspectives and fields of expertise joining to examine each case; the CSU unit works closely with producers and their local veterinarians.

“The unit brings several disciplines together to consider producer problems and counsel about solutions in a timely way. This response will bring a valuable resource to livestock owners in Colorado,” said Jack Whittier, an Animal Sciences professor and Extension beef specialist.

Making up the CSU Field Investigation Unit are representatives of the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, CSU Extension and the Department of Animal Sciences.

The approach is meant to identify underlying production issues so they may be solved with research-based strategies – thereby supporting rancher profitability and Colorado’s vibrant agricultural industry.

Making a complex process easier

Agriculture contributes an estimated $41 billion each year to the Colorado economy; beef and dairy are among the industry’s top sectors, with other livestock sectors contributing significantly, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

“We understand that livestock production is complex. To be successful, producers simultaneously pursue best practices in system management, nutrition, disease prevention and other aspects of health and husbandry,” Powers said. “As a result, those of us at CSU want to support producers by considering problems and solutions in a very comprehensive way.”

The Field Investigation Unit starts each case with a consultation conference call. The unit’s consultation services are free.

In one of its first cases, Field Investigation Unit members took part in a conference call with a commercial cow-calf producer whose 3-year-olds failed to become pregnant, while older cows had few fertility problems. The Colorado rancher feared an infectious disease was causing problems among his young cows.

As CSU faculty members asked questions and discussed the problem with the producer, they determined the fertility problem was likely rooted in nutrition and beef-system management. The team suggested new approaches to pasturing and calving, a more nutrient-rich ration, and forage testing for vitamins and trace minerals in order to meet the needs of the younger cows.

Members of the Field Investigation Unit will contact the rancher during the next calving cycle to ensure the fertility trouble has resolved.

To contact the Field Investigation Unit, call Dr. Charlie Davis with CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, (970) 297-0370 or (970) 689-1632 or email charlie.davis@colostate.edu.