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.

Power Your Herd with BioZyme Protein Products

It is a widely known and accepted fact that supplementation is a large portion of cash costs for every cattle operation. Protein is a crucial nutrient in a beef cattle diet (or any species for that matter). Unfortunately, protein supplementation is frequently a high-cost item in the nutritional program, and therefore, often ignored.

Protein is essential within the diet of a ruminant to supply the ammonia needed for microbial growth and provide the amino acids needed for absorption from the small intestine. A deficiency in protein can limit microbial activity, microbial protein synthesis and rate of digestion. All of these can impact feed and energy intake. Furthermore, if an animal receives insufficient amounts of protein, production of meat, milk and wool can be dramatically reduced.

However, when a producer is supplying supplemental protein to their livestock, they don’t always think about how much of that protein the animal is actually utilizing. Regardless of the nutrient, there is a portion that can and can’t be utilized by the animal. The component that is available to be utilized by the animal is considered “digestible”. On average, only about 40% of supplemental protein can actually be digested by the animal and used for growth, reproduction, lactation, etc.

So how can we make digestibility of protein more efficient? By increasing production of microbial cell protein (MCP). Microbial cell protein is the purest form of protein (up to 80% digestible) and is derived from bacteria present in the digestive system. Amaferm®, found in EVERY BioZyme product, has been shown to result in an average increase in MCP of 34%, which correlates to more performance and ultimately more profit in your pocket.

In addition to the use of Amaferm, here are a few extra tips to proper, economical protein supplementation.

1. Identify your animal’s requirements.

In order to develop a cost effective supplementation program, you must first know the protein and energy requirements of your animals. Requirements for protein vary throughout the year and are dependent on the animal’s stage of production. For example, growing calves and cows in early lactation have some of the highest protein requirements. From weaning to puberty, cattle experience the largest increase in protein deposition throughout their lifetime. In turn, their requirement for dietary protein is particularly high as well. In regards to a cow that has just calved, her requirements are highest the first two months post calving due to the increase in protein demanded for lactation; while her lowest requirements are seen post-weaning. A cow’s protein requirement will begin to gradually increase again as fetal development increases.

2. Identify what is in your feed.

The second step in creating a successful supplementation program is knowing the protein content of your total diet. Protein can come from pasture, stored forages and supplemental feeds such as grain. BioZyme provides lab testing and ration balancing services free of charge to its customers. By understanding the nutrient profile of your available feedstuffs, you can better identify what supplements you can add to your feeding program to meet nutrient requirements and optimize animal performance without over or under feeding.

3. Identify which product best fits your management situation.

Generally, protein supplementation is needed in the late summer when forage quality is at its lowest and when grazing crop residues in late winter. For fall calving herds, forage protein is usually limited during early lactation. BioZyme offers a variety of high-quality protein supplements to meet a producer’s supplemental protein needs. The Concept•Aid® POWER Products all contain 20%, all-natural CP and provide enough vitamins and minerals to serve as a replacement for loose mineral supplements. VitaFerm® offers its POWER protein supplements in tub, meal and block form to fit differing management scenarios, allowing for maximum convenience along with improved animal performance. As a more economical alternative, the VitaFerm 30-13% Protein Tub offers a higher protein level in a smaller feeding rate, as well as a complete mineral package in every feeding.

Proper protein supplementation at various stages of production can prove extremely beneficial to overall animal productivity. The Amaferm advantage present in VitaFerm products increases the rate of digestion, allowing animals to meet their nutrient requirements faster and on less feed. Increased forage digestion provides for greater microbial growth and production of microbial protein to provide the animal with more protein for growth, lactation and reproduction.

Don’t Fall Victim to Weaning Woes

Many producers are currently in the midst of weaning madness. There is a plethora of information on weaning management techniques, vaccination protocols and feeding recommendations. Regardless of your operation’s weaning procedures, the most important considerations should be keeping calves healthy, on feed and gaining weight. Ensuring a seamless transition from a milk-based diet to dry feed and hay starts with proper nutrition to maximize performance potential and prevent sickness.

Prior to weaning, a calf’s diet consists of milk that is energy rich and packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. Therefore, when a calf is weaned those nutrients a calf received from milk must be replaced with high quality forages and additional supplementation. Whether you are turning calves out on grass or leaving them in a dry lot, here are some important factors to consider:

Weaning on grass: It is important to consider the quality of the forage if turning calves out on grass post weaning. During this time of year, many forages are in a declining state of nutrient content. As a result, supplemental feed may be required for calves to achieve desired
weight gains.

Weaning in a dry lot: Calves weaned in a dry lot must learn to eat from a bunk if they have not been exposed to them prior to weaning. It is important to consider bunk space (at least 12 inches per calf) and bunk height so that smaller calves can reach feed and water.

Weaning stress coincides with a time in a calf’s life when its trace mineral status is at its lowest. A calf is born with elevated levels of trace minerals (copper, zinc and selenium) acquired in utero. Unfortunately, weaning often depletes these mineral stores. This, combined with the additional protein and energy needed to accommodate the rapid growth of calves during this stage of production, means proper nutrition is crucial. BioZyme® offers a wide variety of products to meet your operation’s nutritional needs during weaning. Here are some of the products producers have had success implementing within their weaning nutrition programs:

Vita Charge® Stress Tub: A 50 or 200 lb. cooked molasses tub that contains Amaferm® and MOS to support digestive health and promote feed and water intake during times of stress and/or recovery from sickness. MOS traps bad bacteria limiting their ability to do harm to the animal. The Stress Tub conveniently allows beef cattle to get their daily dose of organic trace minerals, vitamins and B vitamins without additional handling.

VitaFerm® Sure Start® Pellet: A highly palatable, pelleted vitamin and mineral supplement for beef cattle formulated with a high concentration of vitamins and minerals to alleviate the negative effects of stress. This product contains high levels of vitamin E, niacin and thiamine, as well as organic zinc, cooper and manganese, and a double dose of the Amaferm® advantage. It encourages calves to come to the bunk and provides a smooth transition during the most stressful time in a calf’s life.

Gain Smart POWER 37: A pelleted, 37% natural protein, vitamin and mineral supplement that provides a cost-effective way to promote gain and general herd health. Contains a nutrient package specifically designed to balance high grain diets and supplemental protein, as well as organic copper and zinc plus added iodine for maximum bioavailability to the animal to support hoof health and immunity.

Sure Champ®: A pelleted vitamin and mineral supplement that can be top-dressed or mixed in a ration to improve digestive health, stimulate appetite and optimize health. Typically used in show cattle, Sure Champ is a versatile product that contains 25% protein and elevated levels of highly bioavailable vitamins and minerals to achieve maximum performance potential. Sure Champ contains organic zinc, copper and manganese and the maximum allowable level of selenium. Added vitamins of A, D and E, niacin, and B-12 allow for added growth, bloom and overall health.

Implementing any of these products will take your nutrition program to the next level and ensure continued weight gain and improved immune response of newly weaned calves. For more information, contact Lindsey Grimes, BioZyme Nutrition Coordinator, at (816) 596-8779.

Managing Heat Stress

Heat stress impacts cattle performance and costs millions of dollars in annual economic losses. Animal responses to heat stress include reduced dry matter intake, decreased average daily gain, decreased milk yield, decreased fertility and poor reproduction.

As Figure 1 reflects, the severity of heat stress is commonly estimated by temperature-humidity indexes (THI).

Some have hypothesized that it is not just the extent of heat stress alone that affects animals, but also the duration of the heat stress. This is supported by anecdotal evidence from the field, where it is commonly observed that adequate night cooling reduces the impact of heat stress during multiple-day periods of elevated temperature and humidity.

It is also presumed that the minimum threshold where animals begin experiencing heat stress is a function of the production level of the animal. For example, in growing steers the threshold is considered to be a THI of 84, whereas in a high producing lactating dairy cow the threshold will be considerably lower, starting at a THI of 70. At the same ambient temperature, a higher-producing dairy cow will have to dissipate more heat to the environment than a lower-producing cow of the same size.

In addition to reduced performance, physiological responses to heat stress include increased respiration rates and body temperatures elevated above 39°C (102.2°F). Body temperature rises when cows are no longer able to dissipate body heat to the environment, and is a very sensitive indicator of heat stress. Cows may exhibit panting and drooling as behavioral and physical responses to heat stress.

Feeding Amaferm® during heat stress has multiple benefits including improved digestibility, increased energy availability, improved rumen function and decreased loss of performance. The improved digestibility observed with Amaferm provides more energy to the animal during heat stress when intake is reduced. Amaferm has been shown to improve milk yield performance with lactating cows under heat stress (Figure 2) and help maintain body condition (Chiou et al., 2002). The benefits of Amaferm in dairy cattle production can also be translated to beef brood cow and feedlot performance. In summary, feeding Amaferm during heat stress can:

  • Increase digestibility.
  • Increase energy availability.
  • Improve microbial protein yields.
  • Help stabilize rumen function and pH due to stress disrupting feeding patterns, which can lead to consumption of unusually large meal size.
  • Improve milk yields and help maintain body condition.
  • Improve overall performance.

If you have questions about heat stress in cattle, please email support@biozymeinc.com and we’ll put you in touch with one of our nutritionists. Also, be sure to check out our mineral products, VitaFerm® HEAT and VitaFerm HEAT CTC 3G, specifically designed to help you combat summer heat stress and the effects of fescue pastures.

Health Protocols For Newborn Calves

Calving season is here for many producers and right around the corner for others. It is time to begin thinking about health protocols for newborn calves. Those first few weeks of life are a stressful period in young calves’ lives, but by ensuring they receive the proper nutrition, vitamins and minerals, producers can make sure calves achieve a strong start.

Healthy calves start with healthy mother cows. At this stage of the cow’s life, it is important that she receives a nutrient-rich diet with the appropriate amount of protein. By working with your BioZyme Area Sales Manager or one of the nutritionists, they can assist with forage testing and ration balancing to get cows on the right track.

We recommend a high-quality breeding mineral like Concept•Aid® be fed a minimum of 30 days prior to calving through breeding season. Concept•Aid is high in vitamin E and selenium, which are important for colostrum quality. Colostrum production begins as early as 4-5 weeks prior to calving, so you want to make sure that the cow is ready. Once the calf is born, it is important that it receives colostrum within the first 24 hours. However, for maximum immunity, receiving colostrum within six hours is best.

Encouraging your customers to give a dose of Vita Charge® paste or a Vita Charge bolus at birth and/or tagging will help calves more successfully deal with stress. Vita Charge gives the calf a boost of B-vitamins to encourage intake. Vita Charge also contains Amaferm®, a prebiotic that multiplies the good bacteria in the calf’s stomach. At this point in the calf’s life, it doesn’t make sense to give a probiotic as the calf is a functional monogastric, and therefore, probiotics won’t help the rumen.

As calves begin to mature, putting a Vita Charge Stress Tub in an area where the cows can’t get to it, such as a calf hutch or bedded shed, can provide additional health benefits. In addition to vitamins, minerals and Amaferm, the Vita Charge Stress Tub contains MOS that can greatly help with scour issues and promote overall health.

It is best for your customers to contact their local veterinarian about vaccinations. Recommended vaccinations can vary greatly by geographic region, and a local veterinarian will be able to give the best advice.

Fly Control – Start Early

An early start is the key to a successful horn fly control program. It is estimated that horn flies cost North American cattle producers more than $1 billion each year. Fortunately, BioZyme offers a variety of products that contain Altosid® IGR Feed-Thru. This additive disrupts the life cycle of horn fly larvae in manure.

Horn flies can cause “blind quarters” and reduce milk intake by beef calves because horn flies may carry S. aureus, a major cause of mastitis. Research at Louisiana State University and the University of Georgia indicates that 75 percent of all heifers have mastitis before they have a calf.

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®. With calf prices at $200/cwt. the lost weight can dramatically decrease the income of cow/calf producers.

There is also an impact on these weaned calves as they grow. Horn flies can reduce gains on yearlings grazed on pasture by 30-35 pounds per season. With feeder cattle prices in the $170/cwt. range, reducing horn flies in 2016 can result in an extra $50 to $60 per head while the additional cost of feeding an IGR VitaFerm® mineral with Altosid® is only about $8 per head more than a general VitaFerm mineral.


A. Horn flies are an ectoparasite and tend to stay on the backs and sides of animals throughout the day. Despite their name, horn flies do not congregate on the horn and head area. Horn flies are about half the size of the common housefly and lay eggs exclusively in fresh manure.


A. Most horn fly control strategies require you to either gather cattle on a regular basis for treatment or replenish the various systems that dispense products for horn fly control (dust bags, backrubbers, etc.). While these methods are labor-intensive, an insect growth regulator (IGR) allows you to provide horn fly control right in your feed or minerals, letting cattle do the work.


A. It depends on where you live, but 30 days prior to the last frost is the standard recommendation. You can start later, but you will definitely need to incorporate a knock down spray to kill adults that will be present if you choose to start later in the fly season. To effectively break the horn fly life cycle, a feed-through program utilizing Altosid® IGR Feed-Thru requires three to four weeks for significant reduction in adult horn fly numbers.


A. What you may be seeing are fly species other than the horn fly. The horn fly will only lay its eggs in fresh manure patties. Other fly species such as the common house fly, face fly and stable fly will lay eggs in any damp, decaying material such as sewage, near stagnant water or in old silage. Another reason might be lack of (mineral) consumption. Don’t let your mineral feeders run out! It only takes a few days without Altosid® for the level in the manure to drop below effective levels.


A. Horn flies lay eggs in manure. After the eggs hatch, larvae (maggots) must molt as they grow. During molting, insects produce biochemicals to aid in the growth process. As the final growth stage, the pupal stage, occurs, the IGR provides a jolt of extra biochemical that interrupts the growth process. As a result, adult flies never develop from the pupal stage.


A. The horn fly will not migrate. The female only leaves the host animal to travel a very short distance to the fresh cow patty, lay her eggs, and immediately return to the animal. Therefore, there is little opportunity for your neighbor’s horn fly population to cross over to your herd. Obviously, if there is shared shade or water along the fence line, there will be some cross over, but not significant.


A. Yes. A complete program should include face fly control, along with adulticide products, depending on the level of initial infestation.


A. Products that contain antibiotics such as CTC (Chlortetracycline) are regulated by the FDA. In January 2017 all products that contain an antibiotic will require a prescription under the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). Since, many of our stock products contain CTC and IGR these products will require a VFD. Those products that do not contain an antibiotic, but do contain IGR will NOT fall under the VFD, but they will have to be registered with a state before product can be sold into that state. BioZyme is working on this process and will have more information in the coming months.


A.   VitaFerm Cattlemen’s Blend IGR & CTC 1.4G
       VitaFerm Concept•Aid® 5/S IGR & CTC 1.4G

Great Taste Matters

A product must appeal to the senses to encourage one to eat it. Humans can be convinced verbally that something is good for them to eat even if it doesn’t taste so good. However, livestock can be very selective about what they decide to eat, and we can’t talk them into anything.

There are two potentially different perceptions of palatability, one being that of the producer or owner and the second being that of the animal. Owners tend to focus on smell and looks, while animals focus more on smell and taste.

Simply put, if the animal won’t eat the product, it doesn’t do the animal, the owner, the dealer or BioZyme® any good. As a BioZyme dealer, you should feel confident that you are representing products that have been tested and evaluated on an on-going basis for palatability and consumption.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of BioZyme’s testing of product palatability and consumption occurs at the company’s research farm, Winding River. Since its purchase in 2012, we have been able to utilize our own cattle, horses, sheep, pigs and goats to test products. This allows us to see first-hand how animals react to our products before they go into the field.

This type of testing is going on right now with the Concept•Aid® Goat mineral. After receiving some feedback about low consumption, our team reformulated the product. Simultaneously, the Farm purchased a small herd of goats. The new formulation is now being fed to each goat, and consumption is being tracked daily. After three weeks we will either know the new formulation’s consumption is on track, or we will need to reformulate and start the test over again. Either way, the product won’t go into the field until it passes the Farm test. While testing does take some time to accomplish, we believe it is time well spent.

The next way consumption and palatability are monitored comes straight from the field. All of our Area Sales Managers submit weekly call logs that report the details of each call they make. In these logs, product information is routinely reported back to us from dealers and producers. The nutrition team reads these reports each week looking for any palatability or consumption issues. We take these findings very seriously and follow all up with a phone call if there is any concern or education needed. In addition, a company database houses these call logs. This allows our nutritionist team to search for key words in the database like consumption, intake and palatability in a six-month period to look for any trends that might need to be addressed.

When it comes to making a palatable product, the company does have a few trade secrets. We reserve space in the product formulas for specie specific palatability. Sheep, goats and swine do not like dried distillers grains but cattle love DDGs. So, we use dried distillers grains for cattle formulas, and for sheep, we use soybean meal and extruded soy.

Salt is a dynamic ingredient for palatability in sheep, goats and cattle. We also use high-intensity sweeteners to change and mask bitter flavors. Licorice is a good example of a flavor that will entice the animal away from green grass and lead the animal to consume mineral. Swine and equine products are more commonly hand-fed so we might use fruit, berry and vanilla flavors to make the product more palatable for them.

The bottom line is that BioZyme focuses on palatability. No matter what, the animal still has to want to eat it or there’s no point in putting the product in the feeder. When you open a bag, jar or container you have to like the smell. The animal wants the same thing.