Innovating Animal Health: The Journey Beyond Nutrition

If you know much about BioZyme®, chances are you might have heard of Larry Ehlert. Ehlert, a former feed salesman founded BioZyme in the 1950s across the street from the Saint Joseph, Missouri Stockyards. He subsequently purchased a patent and marketing rights to an unheard-of direct fed microbial produced from a fungus called Aspergillus oryzae, the basis of Amaferm, or what today we call AO-Biotics® Amaferm.

Ehlert was a visionary. He started producing and selling supplements with Amaferm in them, one of the first was VitaFerm®, which still exists today. But he knew producers didn’t know about direct fed microbials and wanted to get them exposed to the emerging technology. He knew the best way to educate cattle producers about Amaferm was through the animal health sector. Who did they trust for advice in the 1970s? Their veterinarians.

“Larry’s instinct was to work with vets because they understood the stress that livestock endured at specific time periods of life. If Larry could bring Amaferm to the animal health business through veterinarians, their clients could see how fast it works in times of stress, and Larry would have the buy-in of the vet. Then, the producers might better understand what Amaferm could do in a mineral program,” explained Kevin Glaubius, long-time BioZyme employee and Area Sales Manager in Nebraska.

After establishing a mineral program, BioZyme later began introducing animal health or small pack products that helped manage the side effects of stress in situations like weaning, hauling, processing, illness, diet changes or environmental changes. These products were originally sold as powders and boluses made for all species and formed the basis for BioZyme’s Vita Charge® Technology.

“Vets didn’t always have the time or space to sell 50-pound bags of mineral. But they could recommend these smaller products that worked fast and helped build immunity or got calves to the bunk or water tank faster,” Glaubius said.

The Evolution of Vita Charge Technology

With Ehlert’s foresight, the Vita Charge products of the 1970s grew and evolved. Livestock and pet enthusiasts appreciated the rapid response of these products, and Vita Charge increased in popularity. As time and technology evolved, so did the product offering.

Powders and boluses transitioned to pastes, liquids and tubs. The pastes eventually evolved to easier to use water-based gels in 2018 when BioZyme purchased Cogent Solutions Group in Lexington, Kentucky.

This proved to be a pivotal point in the evolution of all Vita Charge products. Cogent, a trailblazer in the research, development and production of liquid and gel products in the human and equine industries, brought a wealth of manufacturing knowledge to BioZyme.

With the purchase of Cogent, BioZyme could now make all Vita Charge products, with the exception of tubs, “in house,” utilizing cutting edge technology and automation.

What is the Vita Charge Technology?

According to Ignacio Ipharraguerre, Ph.D., Director of Research and Innovation, the primary focus in developing the Vita Charge Technology was to rapidly safeguard the gut from potential harm. The gut serves various vital functions, including a crucial role in maintaining animals in optimal health and well-being.

“Unfortunately, the inner layer of the gut, known as the mucosa, undergoes rapid renewal, rendering it highly susceptible to the impacts of stressful events. Simply put, any type of stress, even psychological stress, affects the gut mucosa, diminishing its protective barrier function. This protective function is crucial to prevent harmful inflammation and preserve the animal’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients,” he said.

The gut can become dysfunctional within minutes following exposure to stressful situations such as transportation, vaccination or negative interactions with other animals or caregivers. Although these adverse effects may be brief, they undoubtedly create a gateway for significant issues to arise. Consequently, Ipharraguerre and his team worked to create a rapid and effective solution to safeguard animal performance, health and overall well-being during and after stressful periods.

“This foundational work, which extended over several years, involved in-depth research and analysis to understand the intricate ways in which Amaferm and MOS interact with biological processes. The result is a comprehensive understanding of their synergistic effects, ensuring that Vita Charge is not just a product of development but a culmination of years of dedicated investigation and knowledge-building,” Ipharraguerre explains.

Stress also tends to deplete certain nutrients more than others. This is largely due to the “fight or flight” response prioritizing the support of the heart, lungs and muscles. During this physiological survival mode, the digestive process also ceases to be of high priority. The body will either immediately try to get rid of any undigested food (causing diarrhea) or will simply slow down.

The Vita Charge Technology is comprised of a unique blend of ingredients to help support animal health before, during or after the stress response. Every product with Vita Charge Technology contains an exact amount of B vitamins, vitamin E, potassium, zinc, MOS and Amaferm. In addition, a precisely defined salt to sugar ratio was developed and incorporated into the technology to support hydration. This combination provides undeniable impact to livestock under stress, embodying BioZyme’s overall purpose to provide “care that comes full circle.”

Vita Charge Technology in 2024 and Beyond

Although Ehlert had the foresight to position BioZyme as an animal health company nearly half a century ago, BioZyme has long been known for the many nutritional supplements found within the BioZyme family of brands. Brands like VitaFerm®, Sure Champ®, DuraFerm®, Gain Smart® and Vitalize® are becoming more familiar with livestock producers and equine enthusiasts.

In 2024, BioZyme will integrate the Vita Charge products into two of BioZyme’s more popular brand lines. The production cattle products like Stress Tubs and five-liter Cattle Drench will be marketed under the VitaFerm label. All gels, Liquid Boost® and the 32-ounce Cattle Drench will be marketed under the Sure Champ label.

“Both of the Sure Champ and VitaFerm names are really well-known brands within our industry. We feel that this transition will be a simple one with some good education, and perhaps less confusion with an extra brand,” said Lori Lawrence, Senior Manager of Commercial Marketing. “We have spent months working on this project, and we know we will continue to provide an undeniable impact to the livestock industry with our Vita Charge Technology, now found in our customer’s favorite BioZyme brands.”

All formulas will remain the same, only brand names will be slightly different, but the products will be marketed “with Vita Charge Technology” to help eliminate any confusion. For example, Liquid Boost will become Sure Champ Liquid Boost with Vita Charge technology. Same formula, same great results.

One product name will change. The Vita Charge Gel will become Sure Champ Appetite Plus®, indicating more of its direct impact to the animal.

Glaubius encourages livestock producers who haven’t used the products to find a dealer near them and try the products with Vita Charge Technology. He reminds users that the unique formulas work to support animals against a broad spectrum of unintended side effects from stress, something we often cannot control.

“The carefully crafted combination of Amaferm, MOS, B vitamins and other ingredients by BioZyme’s team of research scientists and nutritionists have been proven time and time again to help animals before, during and after stressful situations,” Glaubius said.

To learn more about the full range of products, visit VitaFerm or Sure Champ.