The Moos Room™

Questions, comments, scathing rebuttals? -> or call 612-624-3610 and leave us a message!

Twitter -> @UMNmoosroom and @UMNFarmSafety
Facebook -> @UMNDairy
YouTube -> UMN Beef and Dairy and UMN Farm Safety and Health
Instagram -> @UMNWCROCDairy
Extension Website

What is The Moos Room™?

Hosted by members of the University of Minnesota Extension Beef and Dairy Teams, The Moos Room discusses relevant topics to help beef and dairy producers be more successful. The information is evidence-based and presented as an informal conversation between the hosts and guests.

Joe: Well, welcome to The Moos Room, everybody. The OG3 are together and it feels good.
Emily: Finally.
Joe: I know. It feels like we just can't get schedules through the line and that's just how this time of year works. Side note, we're going to be in person next week, see each other all in person. Hugs all around. As long as we don't have another snowstorm, that's going to be fun as well. Today is Mail Bag episode. We have more questions-
Emily: Mail Bag episode.
Joe: -yes, more questions coming in. As is tradition, I think we start with Emily. We're just going to do that every time now, I think.
Emily: Sure.
Joe: Emily likes to do first.
Emily: I am number one, so we might as well just do me first, I guess.
Bradley: Probably the most important one here, so I guess we got to start with her.
Emily: Guys are just music to my ears today. I love it.
Joe: Okay, here we go. Again, this is going to stay anonymous by request. Just because it's a little delicate situation, I'm not even going to tell you where in the state we are. This person emails and says that, "We have two employees on our farm that just don't get along. They don't have to work together often, but when they do, it goes very poorly. It seems to affect other employees, and it even affects when people feel like they can take vacations because they're scared to leave a fellow employee having to work with these two people together. Any advice?"
Emily: Oof, that one, it's a doozy. It's a doozy for sure. I can see where this is getting to be more and more complex, especially now that it's impacting other employees as well. That can be a really sticky situation to be in. I am going to say first and foremost, I am by no means a conflict resolution expert, but I certainly have some ideas about this. I may be giving some advice that this farmer has already tried, but my guess is there's maybe some other people listening that have had some similar situations.
I think if this is something you are able to do and if the employees agree to it, have some conversations with them separately. Try to get, if you can, to the heart of what the problem really is and also, just learning a little more and diving a little deeper into what's important to these employees.
My guess, and I don't know for sure, the conflict might be coming from them just having different goals or placing different priority on different things. It might be helpful again to sit down with them one at a time and just learn a little more about what their goals are, how they view how they fit into the farm.
If you're able to ask them about that other employee or why they feel they don't work very well together-- It certainly sounds like these are two good employees, not employees you would want to let go of, but you absolutely need to be addressing these interpersonal issues that are happening. You also have an opportunity to just speak with all of your employees, confirm to them that they need to do what they need to do. Perhaps telling them you're working on the situation; you don't want it to be causing them stress.
For me, all these issues really come back to communication, communicating individually with your employees, communicating things to your employees as a whole overall. Maybe there is an opportunity to get those two employees to sit down and talk to one another. We don't have all the information, so we don't know for sure what the underlying issue may be, and perhaps this farmer also doesn't know.
I think really speaking to the two people individually as individuals and focus off the conflict and really just putting the focus on them of, "What are your goals? Where do you see yourself fitting in on this farm? Are there issues that I can help you address to make your time at this farm better?" Then they might bring up the conflict themselves that way too.
I think it's a matter of probably some communication or miscommunication and now an inability to communicate further to fix the issue. It's a tough one. There's no textbook perfect answer that I can give you but I think your best chance right now, your best opportunity is to just talk to each of those employees and learn a little more about them and a little more again about how they view themselves at your farm. Maybe there, you can get a better idea of what's working and what's not.
Joe: Makes total sense to me. I know that this is why we take these questions and we give them to Emily because Brad and I couldn't have answered that in a way that would have been helpful, I would guess.
I really don't like it when employees have effects on other employees. I think that's really one of the big lines in the sand for me. When I've had that situation in the past with people that I've overseen, even just making them aware that they're affecting other people because of how they're acting with each other, sometimes that can be a real eye-opener that it's like this is bad enough that other people are being affected. Even that alone can be like, "Oh? Yes, maybe we should really figure this out or take a step back and calm it down at least a little bit," because maybe they've been doing it for so long that they don't even know that they're affecting other people at this point.
Emily: Yes, absolutely. That's a good point, Joe, as well is just do they have that awareness of how much their situation is impacting the other employees there. I think that that's a good way to look at it as well. I always appreciate getting the tough questions.
Joe: That's why we give them to you. All right, Bradley, you are up. This is a topic that just doesn't go away apparently. We did an episode quite a while ago about interceding grasses and alfalfa mixes, and the emails just keep coming in.
This one is from our friend down in Iowa, Kevin Dietzel. He's just making some comments, basically saying that he's tried interceding Italian ryegrass and other perennial grasses into alfalfa stands a few times. It's been fairly limited results where he had some challenges with potentially some other grasses that had already filled in the gaps, so his attempt to intercede didn't go very well. He had one time where he is pretty sure the drilling itself might have damaged the alfalfa stand.
His last comment is he's had good luck when he mixes things at a new seeding but inter-seeding hasn't had great luck. He has used Italian ryegrass as a nurse crop instead of oats. You get less bulk, but you get a larger harvest window, which he's found is very, very helpful with a busy schedule. Any comments on that, Brad?
Bradley: Well, I agree. Alfalfa is a very resilient crop. It can withstand a lot of damage, hoof traffic, tractor traffic, you name it. It's happened here in Morris where we've tried to intercede into some alfalfa and it just doesn't work, or it's spotty at best. It depends on, obviously, there's weather, how well the alfalfa stand is, how old it is. I agree that it is a tough one with alfalfa. There's a lot of alfalfa. Sometimes it might be better just to rip it up and start over again, maybe like Kevin is saying with Italian ryegrass and using it as a nurse crop.
I'm going to try it this spring. I got my Italian ryegrass and I'm going to put it in some new seeding into a pasture, mix it with some other things, but then I'm going into an alfalfa field and see what happens if I can put Italian ryegrass in there. Maybe I'll see the same thing that Kevin has said. It'll be disappointing, which probably will happen because that's usually what happens. I think he makes a good point that inter-seeding into alfalfa can be a challenge. It can be a challenge.
I don't think there's a right or wrong answer. Obviously, it depends on the field. It can be one field on the farm can work well, and the next field it's totally different because of stand persistence. Interceding into alfalfa, if you're no-tilling into alfalfa, you're going to drill through the crowns and you're going to damage the alfalfa.
That's somewhat of the point of that is interceding grass is what it is to maybe damage it a little bit so it gives the Italian ryegrass or other grass pieces a chance to compete against the alfalfa because alfalfa will out-compete things, definitely.
I don't know if I gave a great answer to that, but I agree with Kevin. I agree.
Joe: This topic continues to happen and really all that it comes back to is Bradley just needs to try a bunch of things and see what works for him and then we can have some more information.
We had another email come in from our friend Joe Lawrence out in New York, who's been on the show before. His comments, he had a bunch of them but the ones that I'll pull out were that where he sees it in New York is that a lot of farmers plant mixes because the alfalfa doesn't persist in some of the poorer drained areas, and that's where the grass can make it.
He said that that works well, but he did note that that is on bigger farms where they have bunkers and there's less issues with variability when they're chopping that. He did say that the other issue that they have encountered a lot when they have these interceded or mixed fields is that there is a huge difference in the variability between cuttings, so each cutting is highly variable. Some more comments and I feel like we're just going to have to do another full episode on this to really figure out what's going on before Brad does research and then after Brad tries some things out too.
Bradley: Well, I got a whole bunch of seed that showed up to Morris this week. Italian ryegrass, orchard grass, best clovers, alfalfa, you name it. We're going to try some of this stuff for some of my grazing projects this summer. Last fall, I took a pasture and let the cows just feed on it so I can reseed it. It was kind of a pasture that was dwindling in pasture production. It was growing more thistles than it should and it needed some help. We're going into that one with Italian rye and some legumes to see if we can reestablish some of the grasses and legumes there. I guess stay tuned. We'll find out. Once the snow melts here, we'll be planting it. Hopefully, by early spring or June, we'll have figured out whether it worked or not, at least when things start growing.
Joe: Perfect. All right, the last one is for me, and this is quite the chain of questions. I don't think we have time to get into the whole thing today because it's kind of a can of worms. The question was about mycoplasma and cattle and feedlot cattle. Where does it come from? Does it transfer from animal to animal? How do we treat it? How do we prevent it? All of those things. That's a big topic and one where we'll probably have to take a week to look at research and all the data that's out there to have a great picture on what's going on.
In general, when we're talking about mycoplasma and cattle, it's a highly debated topic in the veterinary community about where it comes from, how it causes illness in cattle, and what are the triggers and all these things. In general, there's two different sides to the argument. In my opinion, most of the data points to stress or some other insult allowing mycoplasma to take over. By itself, mycoplasma doesn't, in my opinion, cause disease without something else happening. Now, there's a whole host of other things that can happen that allows mycoplasma to take over. It can be as simple as not having enough pen space, or not having enough bunk space, or having not enough bunk space and then having 20 inches of snow come down, weather changes, feed changes, a viral insult first, poor ventilation. The list goes on and on and on.
Mycoplasma is unique and usually what we see is both a combination of pneumonias and then joint issues as well. The mycoplasma travels to the joint. You get lame cattle. Usually, it's several different joints in the same animal. They get incredibly lame. Those joints get incredibly big. When you open these cattle up, their lungs are consolidated with basically micro abscesses all over the lungs. It looks like the lungs, they're covered in pimples basically is what it looks like. It's really pretty gross.
Without getting too deep into this subject, and we'll take time on a later episode to do that, mycoplasma is a combination of stress and avoiding the insults that would allow mycoplasma to set up shop. That's the goal, is to reduce stress in every way, and avoid these other things that allow mycoplasma to set up. That's how you prevent mycoplasma.
One of the things that's unfortunate about it is that one of the things that can set up mycoplasma to happen to take over to cause issues is previous lung injury. Treatments that happened potentially before you acquired these cattle or diseases that happened before you acquired these cattle. That's something it's almost impossible to know about, right? If you're getting cattle at 800 pounds and 10% of them had a pretty serious pneumonia event when they were 500 pounds, they might look totally normal and completely healthy. Unless you have treatment records for that group, you're going to have no idea that those cattle are potentially at risk for a mycoplasma issue.
It's a really complicated subject. It takes a lot to run down. I see it as more of a systems issue where we have to be onsite at that feedlot to really go over everything to figure it out. That's kind of where I'm at.
I'm not going to talk about vaccines today. That's a whole nother debate. Treatment also not going to talk about today because we get a little extra label with some of the stuff we do and I don't want to do that on the podcast. That's something you need to talk to your veterinarian about. Brad unmuted for a second. I don't know if he has a comment on that piece.
Bradley: Yes. It seems like mycoplasma is always one of those nebulous things that we don't really know where it came from and it can just pop up immediately and there's not one specific treatment or thing that we can do. It seems like we need to almost have a full episode on mycoplasma once and just talk about it because it's one that comes up every now again on dairies and it's like, "Well, I don't know where it came from or we don't know what happened." A lot of the things that you were pointing out lead us back to, "Okay, that stress event or something is what maybe caused it."
Joe: When we're talking about respiratory mycoplasma, we haven't even scratched the surface yet on the other issues, especially when we get to mastitis, because that's a whole nother nightmare to figure out on a dairy with mycoplasma mastitis. We might have two episodes brewing here just talking about mycoplasma, maybe three if we get into the vaccine discussion. There's a lot going on there. Hopefully, we gave you a taste on my thoughts on that. Most of it is source and reducing stress. That's how you prevent mycoplasma, which I know is a very vague thing to say, but that's what it is. It's a complicated issue. All right, last thoughts from my teammates here.
Bradley: Here's the last point. I was in Kansas City last week. If you're ever in Kansas City, you got to go find the Hereford bull in downtown Kansas City that the American Hereford Association donated. You can see it. It towers over the city. There's my plug for Hereford today. If you get a chance in Kansas City, go check out the Hereford Bull.
Emily: [clears throat] That's a great closing thought, Bradley. Thanks for that.
Joe: [chuckles] All right. Herefords and Jerseys are the best. We will move on from there. Emily, please wrap us up.
Emily: Yes. Well, if you have any questions, comments, or scathing rebuttals about today's episode, or if you have a question you would like us to address on a future mailbag episode of The Moos Room, you can email those to
Joe: That's
Emily: You can also call and leave us a voicemail at 612-624-3610. You can find us on Twitter @UMNmoosroom. You can find us on the
Joe: Bye.
Emily: Bye. Holsteins for life.
Joe: That'll get cut.
Emily: Rude.
[cow moos]
[00:19:54] [END OF AUDIO]