One of the most important traits of a good feedlot manager is the ability to assign blame. That is the reason they often employ consulting vets and nutritionists. It keeps them from having to fire regular employees.
Unfortunately, it also pits the vets against the nutritionist in their everlasting battle to decide whether a problem is “nutritional” or “medical.”
The feedlot manager sat across the desk from his nutritionist of the month and his Vet de Jour. He spoke, “I’ve been looking at our death loss records and we’ve had a lot of bloats this month.”
“Obviously nutritional,” interjected the vet, who sat back relieved.
“Now let’s not jump to conclusions,” said Super Nute. “I just read an article in the Academy of Sciences Journal where they suspect an increase in esophageal thickening in mastodons during the last Ice Age, which could lead to interference with normal rumen gas elimination thus contributing to the increase in bloating. And you know it’s been a cool autumn.”
“What!” said the vet.
Nute continued, “And not only that, you are aware that sudden decreases in atmospheric pressure may increase the gas pressure inside the rumen. I’ve been keeping daily records of the barometric pressure, which proves my point,”
The manager wiped his eyes. “In addition we’re losing more weaners than normal to pneumonia this fall.”
“Obviously medical,” said the nutritionist, glad to be out of the hot seat.
“Well, yes,” admitted the vet, “but I’ve not been able to culture any visual bugs out of the lungs, so they should be responding to our treatment. But they aren’t, which leads me to believe it could be something in the hay or possibly the supplement which is the initial causative agent. Maybe a mineral deficiency or ration imbalance.”
“What!” said the nutritionist.
Merlin, the vet, continued, “Plus the original insult may be the result of calves breathing ammonous fertilizer.”
“Well, I’m breathing a lot of fertilizer in this room, “ said the manager. “How ’bout the increasing incidence of brainers?”
“Organism,” said Nute.
“Thiamine deficiency,” said the vet.
“Bad eyes?” asked the manager.
“Wheat chaff,” said the vet.
“Viral,” said the nutritionist.
“I give up,” gasped the manager. “Oh, I see we had one die from trauma – he was hit by a feed truck.”
“Definitely nutritional,” said the vet.
“Yes, but as I recall,” said Nute, “they ran over him in the sick pen.”