Tag Archive: Impacts

Sea Grant Publications on the Impacts of the BP Oil Spill

Sea Grant Publications on the Impacts of the BP Oil Spill

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill was one of the worst natural disasters in our country’s history.
Photo: Gulf Sea Grant


We are pleased to announce the release of a pair of new bulletins outlining how the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacted the popular marine animals dolphins and sea turtles. To read these and other oil spill science publications, go to http://gulfseagrant.org/oilspilloutreach/publications/


The Deepwater Horizon’s impact on bottlenose dolphins – In 2010, scientists documented a markedly increased number of stranded dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Was oil exposure to blame? Could other factors have been in play? Read the answers to these questions here: http://masgc.org/oilscience/oil-spill-science-dolphins.pdf.


Sea turtles and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill – This publication reviews the estimated damage oil exposure caused to sea turtles and discusses continued research and monitoring efforts for these already endangered and threatened species. Click here to read this bulletin: http://masgc.org/oilscience/oil-spill-science-sea-turtles.pdf.


Also –


“Sea turtles and oil spills” presentations – On March 23 in Brownsville, Texas, more than 100 participants gathered in person and online to listen to scientists, responders, and sea turtle specialists explain what we know about how these creatures fared in 2010 and detail ongoing conservation programs. Watch videos of the presentations here: http://gulfseagrant.org/sea-turtles-oil-spills/.


Our oil spill science outreach team hopes you will find these resources useful! J




Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/14/sea-grant-publications-on-the-impacts-of-the-bp-oil-spill/

Managing Cow Body Condition has Long-term Impacts

Managing Cow Body Condition has Long-term Impacts

Figure 1. Cow-calf pairs shortly after calving, cow body condition score affects milk production and reproductive success (Gainesville, FL; Photo credit: Matt Hersom).

Figure 1. Body condition of Cow-calf pairs shortly after calving affects milk production and reproductive success. (Gainesville, FL; Photo credit: Matt Hersom).

Dr. Matt Hersom, Associate Professor, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida

The body condition score of a cow and the herd overall is the best indicator of past nutritional status or success of the overall nutritional program, and the best indicator of near-term nutritional needs. Body condition score is an assessment of the fat cover that the cow is carrying. Surplus nutrition (energy) causes fat to be deposited; whereas an energy deficit causes fat to be mobilized (used). The amount of fat present also has an influence on the hormones and physiology of the cow.

If you are not familiar with body condition scoring your cow herd, you should be. Cows are scored from 1-extremely thin to 9-obese.   If you want help, contact your local County Extension Agent who can help train your eye. It is the least expensive, but greatest return management technique that a cattle producer can adopt. Unlike other management techniques body condition scoring is free, can save feed resources and dollars, and can increase returns to the cow herd enterprise.

Cow herd nutrition is a year-round concern. The cow’s nutrition can’t always be relegated to minimal input supplement choices in the fall and winter; rather cow nutrition is an on-going assessment of the balance of cow requirements and nutrient supplies. The attention to cow herd year-round nutritional status arises for two primary issues.  First is the relationship of nutritional status, body condition score, and cow herd reproductive productivity. The body condition score of the cow herd has a lot to do with reproduction, and reproduction has everything to do with profitability. Second is the concept of cow nutrition during gestation impacting offspring performance – referred to as fetal imprinting or fetal programming.

Body Condition Score

Numerous studies have examined the effect of cow body condition score on any number of reproductive and productive traits. Analyzing data from three studies that cover a range of body condition scores and locations provides a nice summary to which we can apply some simple economics examining the economic impact of cow body condition.

Table 1 presents my interpretation of the economic impact that different cow body condition scores (3 to 5) have on productive outcomes. Because low body condition score cows have decreased pregnancy rates, wean fewer calves, wean lighter calves, and return less overall dollars to the herd. The impact of body condition score on cow herd profitability is considerable. Certainly estimations of profitability are sensitive to calf sale price, but it is undeniable that an adequate cow body condition score, and thus adequate cow nutrition is imperative to profitability.Hersom Table 1 Impact of BCSCow Nutrition During Gestation

The second issue is the concept of cow nutrition during gestation impacting offspring performance – often referred to as fetal imprinting or fetal programming. The developing fetus is completely dependent upon the dam for its nutrient supply from conception until sometime before weaning. As a result, any nutritional insult to the cow may result in a nutritional insult to the developing fetus. Throughout gestation there are critical points of development for the fetus: development of the digestive system and reproductive organs, fat cell appearance, blood flow through the placenta, and growth of all tissues. Critical shortages of key nutrients including protein/amino acids, fats, vitamins, mineral, and cow energy supply can result in sub-optimal development in the growing fetus. We already know that decreased energy supply to the cow can affect placental development, fetal development, calf birth weight, and ultimately reproductive performance. Additionally, if their dam was nutrient restricted during gestation, sickness and death rates increase in those calves even after they are born.

Recent work in cows has identified protein supplementation and higher quality forages as important contributors to improved reproductive performance in heifer offspring, through decreased age at puberty, increased pregnancy rate, and an increase in the percentage of heifers that calved in the first 21 days of the calving season. Additionally, steer progeny had greater weaning weights, feedlot average daily gain, carcass weights, and better carcass quality.

Often our cow herds experience periods of nutritional restriction during the annual production cycle. Nutritional restriction of the cow not only affects her ability to maintain herself, but also affects the cow’s ability to become pregnant, maintain pregnancy, and can negatively affect the developing calf. Early nutritional restriction of the cow can affect placental development and the cow’s ability to deliver nutrients to the fetus. Late nutritional restriction of the cow negatively affects the development of organs and uptake of nutrients by key tissues. The opportunity to negatively or positively affect a calf crop and the economic return from the calf crop ultimately starts with cow nutrition and adequate body condition both while pregnant and after calving.

Figure 2. Cow body condition has long-term effects on calf weaning weight and total cow economic productivity (Alachua, FL; Photo credit: Matt Hersom).

Figure 2. Cow body condition has long-term effects on calf weaning weight and total cow economic productivity.(Alachua, FL; Photo credit: Matt Hersom).

For more information on cattle body condition scoring, download:

Body Condition Scoring Beef Cows

Body Condition Scoring Beef Cattle

Implications of Cow Body Condition Score on Productivity



Author: Matt Hersom – hersom@ufl.edu

Matt Hersom

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/12/18/managing-cow-body-condition-has-long-term-impacts/

What are the Long-Term Impacts of Estrus Synchronization and Artificial Insemination?

What are the Long-Term Impacts of Estrus Synchronization and Artificial Insemination?

2015 summer undergraduate research intern in Animal Sciences, Katie O'Dell, works with Dr. Cliff Lamb at the NFREC in Quincy, Florida on Friday, July 10th.

A uniform set of calves at the University of Florida NFREC ready for market. They are the result of a disciplined estrus synchronization and artificial insemination program. Photo credit: Tyler Jones

Cliff Lamb, University of Florida – North Florida Research and Education Center, Marianna, FL

Estrous synchronization (ES) and artificial insemination (AI) are reproductive management tools that have been available to beef producers for over 50 years.  Synchronization of the estrous cycle has the potential to shorten the calving season, increase calf uniformity, and enhance the possibilities for utilizing AI.  Artificial insemination allows producers the opportunity to infuse superior genetics into their operations at costs far below the cost of purchasing a herd sire of similar standards.  These tools remain the most important and widely applicable reproductive bio-technologies available for beef cattle operations (Seidel, 1995).  However, beef producers have been slow to utilize or adopt these technologies into their production systems.

Current research has focused on the development of methods that effectively synchronize estrous in postpartum (after calving) beef cows and replacement beef heifers by decreasing the period of time over which estrus detection is required, thus facilitating the use of fixed-time artificial insemination (TAI).  This new generation of estrus synchronization protocols uses two strategies which are key factors for implementation by producers because they: 1) minimize the number and frequency of handling cattle through a cattle-handling facility; and 2) eliminate detection of estrus (heat) by employing TAI.  Producers receiving all the necessary, applicable information packaged to include, but not limited to, protocol administration, economic implications, and genetic improvements to the cowherd are more apt to implement these tools into their management systems, and achieve positive outcomes as a result.

Recently we performed an experiment using partial budget analysis to determine the economic outcome of estrus synchronization and TAI in commercial cow/calf production. Suckled beef cows were assigned randomly within each of eight locations to 1 of 2 treatment groups: 1) cows were inseminated artificially after synchronization of ovulation using the 7-day CO-Synch + CIDR protocol (TAI); and 2) cows were exposed to natural service (NS) without estrous synchronization (Control). Within each herd, cows from both treatments were maintained together in similar pastures and were exposed to bulls 12 hours after the last cow in the TAI treatment was inseminated. Overall, the percentage of cows exposed to treatments that subsequently weaned a calf was greater for TAI (84%) than Control (78%) cows. In addition, survival analysis demonstrated that cumulative calving distribution differed between the TAI and Control treatments. Weaning weights per cow exposed to treatments were greater for cows in the TAI treatment (425 lb) than those cows in the Control treatment (387 lb).  Overall, increased returns, plus decreased costs ($ 82.32), minus decreased returns plus increased costs ($ 33.18) resulted in a $ 49.14 advantage per exposed cow in the TAI treatment compared to the Control treatment. Location greatly influenced weaned calf weights, which may have been a result of differing management, nutrition, genetic selection, production goals, and environment. We concluded that estrus synchronization and TAI had a positive economic impact on subsequent weaning weights of exposed cows.

Lamb Figure 1 Calving distribution

Figure 1. Cumulative calving by year for two years (2006 and 2007) prior to introducing TAI and five years (2008 to 2013) after introducing TAI.

As a result of the previous study and using our knowledge of the many reproductive technologies, we incorporated multiple reproductive technologies on the subsequent value of the calf crop in a case study conducted at the University of Florida’s North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) located in Marianna, FL.  This case study was conducted during the spring 2008 through the spring 2013 breeding seasons, in a cow/calf operation consisting of 300 cows.  Prior to the 2008 breeding season the herd was exposed to a 120 day breeding season. The goal was to reduce the breeding season to 70 days within 4 years. To do this, it was decided, in 2008, that all females in the operation would be exposed to the following criteria: 1) replacement heifers must become pregnant during the first 25 days of the breeding season; 2) every cow will be exposed to ES and TAI; 3) a cow must produce a live calf every year and calve without assistance or she was culled; 4) every cow must provide the resources for the genetic potential of the calves and each calf she produces must be genetically capable of performing; 5) every cow must maintain body condition score without requiring supplemental feeding; and 6) any cow with an undesirable temperament or disposition was culled.  As a result of incorporating multiple reproductive management practices, the breeding season was reduced from 120 to 70 days and almost all cows calved prior to initiation of the breeding season and are exposed to a single TAI at the initiation of the breeding season (Figure 1).  The net result is a more compact calving season that has increased the value of calves (in current dollars) by $ 169 per calf or an annual increase in calf value for the 300 head operation of $ 50,700 per year (Table 1).Lamb Table 1 Breeding Season affect on calf value

For More information, and the most current recommendations on Estrus Synchronization and Timed A.I. visit the the Beef Reproduction Task Force website: 




Author: Cliff Lamb – gclamb@ufl.edu

Cliff Lamb

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/10/10/what-are-the-long-term-impacts-of-estrus-synchronization-and-artificial-insemination/