Tips for Reduced Stress at Weaning

If you’ve ever had a young child, think back to his or her first days of school. The word that might come to mind is chaos. Learning a new bus or drop-off routine. Do you pack a lunch or eat the school’s hot lunch? Does your sweetie have a book bag? Item for show-and-tell? The required school supplies? It might sound a little chaotic, and for a cattle producer, that chaos might resemble weaning time.

Yes, it is the most stressful time in your calf’s life. Until now, your calves have had it pretty good. Though the young calves were hopefully exposed to some type of mineral tub or loose supplement, mama cow was always right there with the next meal. And she has always been there to “wash” that tough-to-reach-spot behind the ears. Then one day, the producer gathers pairs and sorts the cows from the calves, and at just 6 or 7-months of age, the calves are weaned and have to learn survival on their own.

At weaning calves are faced with several immediate changes: environment, herd groups, nutritional intake and all while be separated from their mother. And while weaning can be very stressful to the calves, the same period can also be stressful on the producer who strives to keep the calves healthy, eating and growing all during this time of transition.

Kevin Evans, Thaler Land & Livestock at LaGrange, Wyo., offers some practical advice to reduce stress in calves at weaning time.

“It’s critical to get these calves off to a good start. Keeping them healthy at weaning not only helps in increased rate of gain, it helps keep our expenses down in vet bills and cost of labor to treat sick calves,” Evans said.

Choose a nice day. Evans said he picks a day when Mother Nature is on his side, and he pays attention to the long-range forecast as well. “We don’t wean right before a weather system moves in.”

Provide necessary vaccinations. Thaler Land & Livestock takes a proactive approach to animal health and provides needed vaccinations to their calves at weaning time to keep them healthy. This also helps ensure that they don’t have to treat sick calves in just a few weeks.

Provide high-quality supplements like Vita Charge®. Prior to incorporating Vita Charge into his weaning protocol about three years ago, Evans said he would treat up to 10 sick calves a day for the first 30 days of weaning. Now, sick calves aren’t an issue because the calves are eating, drinking and keeping their digestive system in check. “When we wean, we go right to Vita Charge Drench. Those calves seem to come out of the drench, hit the Vita Charge Stress Tubs, and go straight to the bunk. I’ve had no issues the last three years that we’ve used the products.”

The Vita Charge Drench and Stress Tubs contain Amaferm® organic zinc and essential vitamins to stimulate the immune system and to ensure that feed intake stays consistent. Added enzymes and B-vitamins work with Amaferm to generate a more rapid digestive response. Amaferm is a precision prebiotic designed to enhance digestibility by amplifying the nutrient supply within for maximum performance. They both also contain MOS that traps bad bacteria limiting their ability to do harm.

“I believe in Amaferm a lot, mostly because I’ve seen the difference in the cattle’s consumption,” Evans said. “And I firmly believe if you’ve got a healthy gut in your cattle, you have a healthy animal.”

Just like young children heading back to school, weaning can be a stressful, even chaotic time in the young calves’ lives. Even recovered cattle performance and ultimately carcass value are impacted by sickness and morbidity early in life. But with proper planning, a good health and vaccination program, the chaos and stress on the calves can be reduced. Now, if only buying school supplies was as simple.

Keep Her Bred Through The Heat Of Summer

Cattle producers go to great lengths to do whatever it takes to get their cows bred. But what about after? Keeping a cow bred, especially during the summer months, can be equally as challenging.

Typically, if a fertile bull breeds cows at the correct time, fertilization rates should nearly reach 100%. However, normal single-service conception rates run anywhere from 60-80%. The 20-40% difference must come from embryonic or fetal loss. Loss of pregnancy can result in longer calving windows, lower weaning weights and less profitability for producers. Oklahoma State University conducted some of the first research on the implications of heat stress on pregnancy rates. Those studies found that when cattle were bred at cooler temperatures, but then exposed to moderate and severely hot temperatures, their pregnancy rates were decreased by as much as 50%. Furthermore, they found that the surviving fetuses were smaller in heat-stressed cows and were more likely to be lost later in pregnancy.

Cattle can experience heat stress once the ambient temperature outside reaches 70 degrees or higher. This means that their upper critical limit for temperature is lower than that of humans. Humidity also can accelerate the implications of heat stress because of their inability to dissipate heat effectively. Therefore, stress can increase pregnancy loss well into the second and third trimester. For spring calvers, calves are weaned and cows are worked in what is typically the hottest months of the year. In the case of fall calvers, these females may calve earlier than expected due to prolonged periods of heat and drought during the third trimester. Be sure to give special considerations to bulls as well during the summer months. Heat stress can affect spermatogenesis (sperm production) and won’t show up until 45 to 60 days post heat stress.

Other factors such as fescue and fescue toxicosis can compound the effects of heat stress. The endophyte found in fescue, which can ultimately lead to fescue toxicosis if proper management isn’t implemented within an operation, limits a cow’s ability to dissipate heat because it reduces blood flow to the skin. If cows and heifers are exposed to diseases they don’t have the proper immune defenses against, the addition of stress from excessive heat can leave them virtually defenseless against sickness. Heat stress decreases grazing and feed intake and in drought situations, malnutrition and resulting dust will result in increased respiratory illnesses and potentially loss of pregnancy.

To help alleviate the implications of heat stress and help keep cows bred, producers can provide a multitude of management techniques to lessen the effects of heat stress.

  • Always provide enough cool, clean drinking water. High temps can double water intake. Increased urine output can deplete bodily mineral stores, so be sure to provide a high quality mineral source at all times.
  • Ample shade will provide relief from heat stress without too many animals gathering in a small area and compromising air flow.
  • Make sure all buildings have adequate ventilation, especially if cows are confined.
  • Wetting via sprinklers or hoses can effectively cool cattle. But pay attention to droplet size; misters just add more humidity to the air.
  • Good fly control can go a long way. To combat flies cattle will bunch and lower air circulation, resulting in elevated heat stress.
  • Avoid working cattle during the hottest hours of the day. The earlier in the day, the better.
  • Depending on the region of the country in which you reside, incorporating more heat tolerant genetics can improve the end product value or overall profitability.

Producers invest a lot of time and resources to get their cows ready for the breeding season. Significant heat stress can result in loss of pregnancy, and bottom line, open cows don’t result in profitable operations. Go the extra mile to lessen the negative impacts of heat stress and help keep your cows bred during the summer heat!

How to Prevent Grass Tetany

 

The snow might be flying throughout much of the country, but it won’t be long before cattle producers are thinking about turning pairs out to pasture. Although that lush green grass seems appealing, there are hidden concerns that producers need to remember when turning out their cows.

One of those concerns is grass tetany. Kevin Glaubius, Director of Nutrition at BioZyme® Inc., took time to answer a few questions about grass tetany to help producers prepare for spring and early summer grazing.

  1. What is grass tetany? How is it caused and what are the symptoms?

Grass tetany is also called grass staggers because when cattle become susceptible they start to stagger around and will go down on their side. One of the first symptoms is general lack of coordination.

Most producers think of tetany as a magnesium deficiency, because feed companies use magnesium to prevent occurrence, but really it is excessive intake of potassium. Potassium and magnesium compete for the same absorption pathway. Think of it like a funnel where three potassium marbles are trying to get through the funnel the same time as one magnesium marble. Since the percentage of potassium marbles is greater, that nutrient is more likely to go down the funnel and get absorbed before the magnesium does.

Tetany typically occurs in older animals rather than younger animals because of an inability to mobilize the magnesium from the bones. Mature cows will show signs long before a young calf.

 

  1. Is there a time of year it is most prevalent? Is grass tetany found in every region or does it confine itself to one geographic area?

Most of the time tetany will happen when cattle are on lush forages. While transitioning from winter to spring, nutrients, including potassium, are being pumped up from ground through the roots to support plant growth. When we have a few weeks of warm weather, those nutrients get pumped up to the plant that is above ground, actively growing. But if a cold snap or cool weather sets in, growth pauses but those nutrients remain in the plant. With those warm weather/cold weather cycles, the potassium levels can potentially become twice the amount they normally are, leading to tetany challenges when you turn your cows out around May 1.

Since tetany is a nutritional issue, it isn’t isolated to just the spring and summer when we turn cattle out to grass; It can also happen while feeding hay. In that case, we have what might be referred to as “winter tetany” or “wheat pasture poisoning” when cattle are fed harvested winter feeds that are high in potassium.

Most of the country doesn’t have problems with it in the fall. However, it can be an issue especially if producers fall fertilize.

Tetany is a global issue and impacts all ruminants who have an improper potassium:magnesium ratio.

 

  1. What are the best ways to prevent grass tetany?

There is no perfect mineral for preventing grass tetany. If you have extremely high potassium level, it is important to realize that a higher percentage of magnesium doesn’t always mean it is better. Magnesium isn’t palatable, and cows will likely walk away from straight magnesium or minerals with slightly higher levels of magnesium.

Start increasing magnesium levels about two weeks before turning out to pasture so you can gauge how much the cow might eat when she is turned out on grass. Remove all other sources of salt so that forces the cows to get salt from the mineral if the bitterness of higher magnesium restricts intake to less than the restricted amounts.

Feeding a high mag mineral during the high-risk periods such as spring and fall when the growing season can easily be disrupted will prevent the vast majority of issues.

  1. If an animal is diagnosed with grass tetany, how is it best treated?

Remember to check your cattle regularly when they are first turned out to new, green grass. Grass tetany is treatable if it is caught early enough. Call your veterinarian at the first signs of any tetany. The vet will typically provide an intravenous solution of calcium, magnesium and glucose to get the cow back on her feet. Timing is critical, though as cows will likely die if not treated within 4-8 hours after onset.

The key to preventing tetany is to provide the proper amounts of all nutrients, Glaubius said. If you can keep your magnesium to potassium ratio in check, your cows should enjoy grazing green grass and keep healthy. BioZyme offers several supplements in its VitaFerm® product line that are enhanced with magnesium to help prevent the onset of tetany including VitaFerm Concept•Aid® Mag/S. And VitaFerm Cow-Calf Mag Mineral. To learn more about these and other VitaFerm Products, visit: http://vitaferm.com/all-products.

 

Amaferm Advantage Keeps Cattle Healthy and Mediates Antibiotic Use

Prevention is the key to good health in your cow herd. Your herd health protocol should include both a sound nutrition program and good vaccination program. A significant component to a good nutrition program is a quality mineral package that works to keep the digestive system in check.

Taking a proactive approach to your nutrition protocols starts with providing balanced nutrients that your cattle need. Offering a product like a Vita Charge® Stress Tub or another VitaFerm® mineral product with the Amaferm® advantage will help your cattle stay healthy, productive and performing. Amaferm is a natural prebiotic designed to maximize the nutritional value of feed, increasing the intake, absorption and digestibility of nutrients.

Even with a sound nutrition program and proper vaccinations, chances are you will have a few head that get sick and will need to be treated. When treating cattle with antibiotics it is more important than ever to make sure they have Amaferm in their diets. Amaferm works with the antibiotics and helps mediate their negative effects on the digestive system, making sure your cattle get healthy and keep eating.

One often forgotten side effect of antibiotic use is the potential negative effect on the beneficial microbial population residing in the digestive system. A common side effect of prolonged antibiotic treatment is a reduction or slowing of the growth rate of these important microbes. Amaferm is research-proven to combat stress by supporting the animal’s own immune system, significantly increasing intake and nutrient utilization. Research shows that Amaferm helps support increased numbers of rumen bacteria and helps maintain a diverse population in terms of species, which is fundamental to a healthy animal.

Kevin Glaubius, director of nutrition for BioZyme®, offers some key takeaways from a Kansas State University Amaferm and antibiotic trial. Although the effects of the Amaferm were dependent on the antibiotic used and the species of bacteria that were studied, Amaferm did have positive impact on the antibiotics commonly used to treat sickness. This occurred by allowing the growth rates of important species of rumen bacteria to more closely resemble the growth rates of bacteria in the non-antibiotic controls.

“Some of the antibiotics we looked at in the study stopped growth of some of the microorganisms that aid in digestion, which could have a negative effect in the overall performance of the animal,” Glaubius said.

If you do have to treat a sick animal with an antibiotic, consider giving it a dose of Vita Charge Paste or Vita Charge Drench in conjunction with treating it. The Amaferm in the Vita Charge will help alleviate stress and keep the animal eating while it heals.

Reproductive Success

Reproduction is the most influential factor on beef cattle profitability. Since reproduction is a lowly heritable trait, environment plays a huge role. Environmental factors that have been proven to increase conception are: energy consumption and body condition score, protein consumption (both as a protein requirement and as improving energy status via rumen fermentation), mineral  and trace mineral status, and body temperature (fever has been shown to increase embryonic fatality).

Most cow-calf producers sell calves at or shortly after weaning. This management system places emphasis not only on the number of calves born and raised to weaning age, but also the weight of the weaned calves. Calf nutrition is a major influence on weaning weight. Dam milk production, calf health and forage consumption are that major sources of nutrients for calves.  Calves have nearly twice the protein requirement as their parents on a percent of diet basis. This requirement along with energy greatly influence the selling weight of calves.

Amaferm®, a natural prebiotic obtained from the proprietary fermentation of Aspergillus oryzae, has been shown to have positive effects on intake, digestibility and nutrient absorption. Amaferm’s mode of action has been shown to increase the feed particle attachment sites for rumen bacteria, enhance the growth of rumen fungi and bacteria, to increase the digestibility of a wide variety feedstuffs into energy and microbial proteins along with increasing nutrient absorption. In addition, documentation indicates that Amaferm reduces rectal temperature of cows during the hottest months of the year that coincide with normal breeding months of spring-calving cows.

Testimonials from cow-calf producers indicate high conception rates and earlier breed-up dates when cowherds are maintained on VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® containing Amaferm, high levels of organic trace minerals, and adequate phosphorus. Despite the amazing number of testimonials, data to support their anecdotal responses has not been collected.

This summer we conducted a Reproductive Success data benchmark study. The project was directed by Dr. Twig Marston with the help of summer research intern Mason DeVooght. They collected reproductive and weaning weight data from customers who feed the Concept•Aid products. The data will be compiled into an online database that will allow us to prove the advantage of feeding Concept•Aid with the Amaferm advantage. Using this data, we will be able to assist our customers in making better management decisions as well as identifying factors that will enable us to further develop the Concept•Aid product line.

If you have a customer that you would like to see included in this study, please reach out to your ASM to participate.

VitaFerm Fly Control Options

One of the greatest advantages that cattlemen still have is being able to select the management practices that work best for their situation. It has always been important to BioZyme® that we offer products that can be used by a wide array of cattlemen to fit their specific production needs. As spring approaches, and you begin to think about your fly control needs, BioZyme offers several different VitaFerm® mineral products.

Altosid® IGR Feed-Thru is a popular option to prevent the breeding of horn flies in the manure of treated cattle. However, for this product to be most effective, it should be used 30 days prior to the last frost. Often our team will hear from producers that are still seeing flies when using IGR. You must remember that IGR is for the management of horn flies and you may be seeing other fly species. Also, it is extremely important that mineral intake is at the appropriate level in order for that cow to get the correct amount of IGR.

BioZyme offers mineral options with fly control in both the VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® and VitaFerm® HEAT product lines. Both of these mineral lines contain organic chelated minerals, and Amaferm®, a natural prebiotic that increases digestibility, however these two brands target different production phases.

VitaFerm Concept•Aid is designed to be fed 60 days pre-calving through 60 days post-breeding. VitaFerm Concept•Aid 5/S AUREO 3G IGR and VitaFerm Concept•Aid 5/S IGR both contain IGR to prevent the breeding of horn flies in the manure of treated cattle. It should be noted though, that the former product does contain AUREO 3G (CTC), which requires a VFD through your veterinarian. Now is the time to talk with your veterinarian and local feed store to ensure you can work this product into your management program. For more details on the benefits of IGR and the improvements in gain and profit, visit www.vitaferm.com/successful-horn-fly-control-using-igr/. Research has shown that the irritation and reduced milk intake from horn fly infestation can cause 20-25 pounds lower weaning weights as compared to cows treated with Altosid® IGR.

If you are looking to steer clear of a VFD or interested in a natural fly control product, we recommend our VitaFerm HEAT products. VitaFerm HEAT reduces heat stress during temperatures of 70 degrees and above, or anytime cattle are grazing fescue. From a fly control standpoint, VitaFerm HEAT includes garlic, a natural insect repellent. With this product, you will still see flies and insects hovering around your cattle, but they will not be making contact with their hide. For those producers interested in using garlic as a fly control option but are still needing a product with CTC for Anaplasmosis, we offer VitaFerm® HEAT AUREO 3G, however, it does require a VFD through your veterinarian.

Regardless of the route you choose, combining a fly control product with Amaferm will ensure that your cattle see maximum performance and gains during spring and summer grazing season.

Manage the Cattle for the Markets

In today’s market, cattle producers need to take advantage of every opportunity to increase the value and profit of their calves. Universities and cattle services have been reporting the economic effects of good and bad management practices for decades. One early report is a 1986 extension publication highlighting a sale barn survey that focused on the impact of selected characteristics on feeder cattle prices. Since then, numerous reports have been released to verify the difference in the value of good versus mismanaged calves. Using best management practices for genetics, nutrition and health is the best way to increase your calves’ value at marketing. When the cattle cycle dips, producers shouldn’t stop using these best management practices.

Cattle inherit the ability to grow and convert feed resources into highly valuable carcasses. Using proper nutrition, one can set calves up to make sure they reach their genetic potential. For example, recent studies have shown that proper nutrition during the last 90 days of pregnancy greatly influences the resulting calf crop’s performance. Meeting the needs of gestating cows, or fetal programming, is a powerful tool. Satisfying the cow herd’s requirements during pregnancy for energy, protein, vitamins and minerals has been shown to increase colostrum intake and calf health (reduced incidences of scours), weaning weight (by 40+ pounds), replacement herd fertility (up to 15% more pregnancies), feedlot performance, carcass quality grade (near 10% greater Choice carcasses)… the list goes on and on. Truly, the cow-calf producer is “large and in charge” of the lifetime performance of calves, often before those calves are even born.

Maximizing forage digestion during late pregnancy is an important part of fetal programming. There are several complementary management practices that can get the most nutrition out of primarily forage cow diets. For example, Amaferm®, a prebiotic included in all VitaFerm® products, enhances forage digestibility elevating the energy and protein of essentially all classes of forages. Providing protein supplements can further increase forage intake and allow cows to maximize their utilization of forages to meet their nutritional needs. Complementing with minerals, trace minerals and vitamin supplements completes the feeding program. Inclusion of complete mineral supplements give cattlemen the confidence their cow herds will remain fertile and healthy.

Well-managed calves give an operation the option of taking advantage of a variety of marketing opportunities. Sale barn and auction sales price analyses over the past three decades have repeatedly shown the value advantages of good management practices. Timely castration, dehorning, and vaccinations, along with maintaining the correct flesh and health have constantly demanded premium prices. Calves managed correctly continue to meet marketing opportunities for maximum profits as they develop, giving owners multiple selling opportunities from the time they are weaned until they are sold to packers.

Successfully raising and marketing calves is a system combining many elements of good management practices. Don’t stop using the best management practices along with solid supplementation programs during a down market. These two elements will help producers reach maximum profit potential. By utilizing VitaFerm supplements, producers can enhance forage digestion, providing needed minerals and vitamins, and maximize a cow herd’s potential and profit.

When Times Get Tough…Don’t Stop

Supplementation programs will always be important building blocks for cow herd nutrition programs. During “belt tightening” times, getting the most bang for your buck becomes even more critical when selecting which, how much and what supplements to feed. It has been repeatedly proven that proper mineral, feed additive and protein supplementation will economically increase beef production. Supplementation can increase the pounds of calves weaned through improved reproduction and by increased weight gains.

Cases in point:

  • Positive fetal programming increases calf weight gains, carcass premiums and reproductive rates.
  • Improved body condition score lends to increased pregnancy rates.
  • Higher fertility equates to more pounds weaned per cow exposed.
  • Increased immunity leads to decreased sickness.

For decades producers have known that supplementing gestating cow diets with the trace mineral zinc has reduced the number of retained placentas. The 2010 Beef Improvement Federation proceedings indicated that organic trace mineral supplementation can improve weaning weight more than 40 pounds, and Oregon research has also supported a substantial weaning weight advantage (nearly 50 pounds). A 2016 Journal of Animal Science article reported the treatment for bovine respiratory disease in feedlot calves was reduced by 50% when their mothers were supplemented in the last trimester with organic trace minerals. Research continually shows that increasing forage digestion unlocks dietary energy and protein that allow cows to increase body condition score, return to estrus and improve pregnancy rates.

If we would shop for supplements like we shop for television viewing packages, we would be looking for bundles of service, packages that put several items together for the best value. It should be the same with nutritional supplements. VitaFerm® supplements are formulated to address several needs at once. Amaferm®, found in all VitaFerm products, is a natural feed additive that acts as a prebiotic and increases forage digestibility. The increase in digestibility lowers the dependency on the amount of protein supplement often required and increases the energy and protein derived from the diet. VitaFerm supplements contain the appropriate type and amount of mineral, organic trace mineral and vitamin fortifications to balance diets; ensuring cow herds will remain productive, healthy and fertile. VitaFerm products give producers a cost effective “bundled” supplement program.

The cow-calf operations that continue using solid supplementation programs, regardless of the state of the cattle market, will be making management decisions that produce profits. Don’t stop supplementation because you think it will save you money down the road. By utilizing VitaFerm supplements, producers can enhance forage digestion, provide needed minerals and vitamins, and maximize a cow herd’s potential and profit.

The Important of Mineral Supplementation During Breeding Season

In a beef herd, profitability is determined by several factors, including the total weight of calves sold, cost of maintaining the cow herd, percentage of cows bred that wean a calf, and the price received for calves. The most critical times to influence these factors are the two months prior to calving and through breeding. A cow’s nutrition during this critical stage of production also has a direct impact on the ability of the cow to rebreed in a timely manner.

Failure to manage the nutrition of the cow herd during these critical times can hurt productivity, and profitability. Supplementing the herd with important vitamins, minerals and proteins before calving and through breeding has been research-proven to improve a cow’s body condition and conception rates and, in turn, overall calf health and survival rates, making this an important time for supplementation.

“Research by the University of Nebraska with heifer offspring from cows grazing a dormant range, showed that in areas where protein was deficient in the forage, protein supplementation to the pregnant cow in late gestation resulted in heifer offspring that were heavier at weaning, pre-breeding, first pregnancy diagnosis, and before their second breeding season, as well as had greater pregnancy rates and calving 21 days earlier than heifers from non-protein supplemented cows,” said Kevin Glaubius, BioZyme® Director of Nutrition and Technical Sales. “These recent studies clearly show that there are areas where many beef producers lose productivity in the normal production settings that are never measured.”

It is important to make sure feed rations are formulated to meet or exceed the nutritional requirements of the cow during early gestation (roughly the first 60 days). While the particular vitamins and minerals fed during this time are very important, BioZyme stresses to its customers that it is also imperative to ensure that the proper amounts of energy and protein are supplied. These are needed to meet the increased demands during lactation and subsequent breeding.

Energy is probably the most important nutritional consideration in beef cattle production. Cows need energy to maintain milk production and to initiate and maintain pregnancy. Energy requirements increase significantly during the last third of pregnancy and while the cow is producing milk. Protein is the second limiting nutrient in most rations. Without adequate amounts of protein in the diet, daily feed consumption drops off, feed passage rates decrease and overall digestive efficiency declines.

Research has proven that feeding Amaferm, found in BioZyme’s highly fortified Concept•Aid product line, can increase energy production by 16% and microbial protein by 34%. In addition, Concept•Aid is formulated at 250% of nutritional requirements to ensure the highest producing 25% of the cowherd is not nutritionally challenged. Concept•Aid contains proteinated copper, zinc and manganese to ensure maximum availability to the animal.

Mineral supplementation may not replace all of a cow’s winter supplement needs, however, it will reduce energy and protein supplementation costs and the average number of days from calving to rebreeding. Supplementation should increase profit potential, increasing the total pounds of calves weaned  and leave producers more time to focus on their breeding strategies.

Using Cost of Gain to Make Profitable Decisions

History shows that production profitability is closely tied to several key factors, one being cost of gain. Producers can use their records on specific input costs and gain calculations to benchmark their enterprises. Simply, cost of gain can be used to make good business decisions.

Management records indicate that feed costs can account for 50-70% of the cost of producing beef, and should include both purchased and raised feed. The cost of raised feed is computed using the opportunity cost of feed grains, hay, pasture lands and other feedstuffs produced by the ranch and utilized in the cattle growing operation.

Feed per unit of gain (feed efficiency) has remained a very important factor in producing profits or losses. Feed conversion or efficacy is typically assumed to be an indirect indicator of profitability. The calculation for feed efficiency is: total feed consumed ÷ (weight sold – weight started). Therefore, as the name implies, it is a simple ratio of feed divided by amount of gain or a ratio of average daily intake divided by the average daily gain. Feed efficiency is usually a fairly straight forward number to generate.

The next step is to link economics to biology. By using the feed cost instead of feed consumed, making an expression of feed costs per unit of gain, one has converted a biological equation to an economic indicator.

Total cost of gain can be divided into the compartments that make up the gain. For example, researchers and nutritionists agree that Amaferm® will increase average daily gains of stocker cattle about 0.2 pounds per day. This weight gain is in addition to the 0.2 pounds per day that will be realized from the mineral, trace mineral and vitamin supplementation in the Gain Smart minerals. With a total supplementation cost of about 12¢ per head, per day, the cost of gain for Gain Smart mineral is only 30¢ per pound. Cattlemen will always be drawn to supplements that efficiently enhance gains, lower the overall cost of gain and improve profits.

For more information, contact Twig Marston, BioZyme Technical Sales Field Manager at (816) 596-8792.