Volatile Fatty Acids for Horses

Volatile fatty acids (VFAs) are a group of fatty acids produced by the cellulose digesting microbes in a horse’s hind gut. Interestingly, the microbes that produce VFAs cannot use them; they are simply a by-product of the fermentation process employed by the microbes to degrade cellulose found in forages. Instead, the horse absorbs them through the cecal and colonic epithelium, and they are distributed throughout the body as energy for a wide array of biological processes.

The most common VFAs are acetate, propionate and butyrate. Collectively, these account for the majority (approximately 70 percent) of the horse’s energy supply. At a basic level, this allows the horse to survive as an herbivore and contributes energy to the general maintenance of the horse including body condition, hair coat, hoof health and the immune system. Additional burdens, such as competition, stress, and lactation, require additional energy supply and, therefore, additional VFA production and absorption.

Acetate is arguably the most important VFA as it is the only one that can be directly absorbed in the bloodstream and used directly as energy. Propionate and butyrate can also be used as energy, but must first be converted into other compounds. Acetate also has significance for broodmares because it is an important source of fat in a lactating mare’s milk. As such, studies have shown that mares on a high forage diet have more milk fat than mares on a high concentrate diet.

Several components of concentrates are also broken down by microbes in the hind gut. However, the type of microbes responsible for concentrate degradation produce a different ratio of VFAs than the cellulose digesting microbes. This ratio, which contains more propionate and less acetate, is less desirable for the horse since acetate is the most accessible energy source. Although concentrate supplementation is necessary in many situations, a diet high in forage content is necessary for the horse to adequately produce enough VFAs to meet its energy requirements.


Because Amaferm® increases the efficiency at which the cellulose digesting microbes in the hind gut operate, horses supplemented with Amaferm have significantly higher VFA production from forages. This means the horse is absorbing considerably more energy (and nutrients) from the same amount of forage as a horse not receiving Amaferm.

Fortunately, there are several different ways that horses can receive the Amaferm advantage. This chart will help you pick the ideal BioZyme product for your customer.

Achieving Aggressive Appetites

A good appetite is a sign of a healthy animal, but can sometimes be hard to maintain, especially in the summer months. Here are six quick tips for promoting a steady appetite in your livestock.

1. Clean Water:

Water is one of the most important nutrients for your livestock and often one of the most overlooked. Your livestock need access to clean drinking water in order to maintain optimum health. Monitoring your animal’s water quality is an inexpensive and effective way to promote healthy livestock.

2. Fresh Feed:

Whether you get your feed fresh from the mill or use a pre-mixed ration from your local feed store, your animals become accustomed to certain textures and smells. Stay consistent in where you purchase feed as well as the length of time you store feed. Also, if you need to transition to a new formula, mix the new feed in gradually so your animal adapts easily and stays on feed.

3. Temperature Regulation:

Loss of appetite is one of the first signs of heat stress. Keeping your animals cool by providing shade, proper ventilation and air circulation will help keep them on feed. Check out recent articles on proper circulation, ventilation and tips for managing heat stress in cattle at www.surechamp.com/blog.

4. Clean Bedding:

It is important that your animal’s bedding is cleaned on a regular basis. Clean, dry bedding helps prevent the spread of disease and bacteria and promotes overall health in your barn. Healthy, comfortable animals naturally have more appetite.

5. Routine Wellness Monitoring:

A sudden drop in appetite might be an indication of parasites. Performing routine deworming and wellness monitoring of your animals will help prevent problems from occurring.

6. Give them a Boost:

Top-dressing feed with Sure Champ® and/or Sure Champ Spark will help ensure appetite and intake stays more consistent. However, sometimes a poor appetite can be due to other unforeseen circumstances or stressors. If your animal’s loss of appetite is due to stressors such as sickness, hauling or heat, administering Vita Charge® is a great next step. Vita Charge provides a powerful dose of vitamins, B vitamins and the Amaferm® advantage for those stressful times when livestock need protection or assistance in recovery. It can be easily administered as a gel, stress tub or even through your animal’s water.

Product Focus: Sure Champ® and New Sure Champ® Spark


With the summer show season heating up, now is the time to make sure your customers are using Sure Champ. Sure Champ is a natural line of supplements for show livestock with the Amaferm® advantage, which acts as a prebiotic improving gut health, stress recovery, appetite and overall performance. Sure Champ enhances skin, hair quality and bloom for that show-ready look.

Sure Champ®

Key Selling Points

Each Sure Champ formula is species specific and due to the vitamin and mineral composition should only be fed to the species for which the product is labeled.

Sure Champ is a complete vitamin and mineral supplement, and therefore alleviates the need to feed any additional mineral sources.

Feed daily to improve digestibility, stimulate appetite and optimize health.

Sure Champ contains Amaferm, research-proven to increase water and feed intake. In addition, research shows that Amaferm decreases body temperature in heat-stressed animals.

New!! Sure Champ® Spark
Available in June 2016

Key Selling Points

A multi-species product that can be fed to all livestock.
Can be used as a top-dress or mixed into the ration.

An easy way for show livestock to receive more of the Amaferm advantage when an aggressive appetite is needed. Feed in addition to Sure Champ for optimal results.

Includes MOS to trap bad bacteria, limiting their ability to do harm to digestive health and intake.

Formula contains no vitamin or mineral supplementation for increased flexibility in a wide range of feeding programs.

Sure Champ® + Vita Charge®

Because show animals are under constant stress due to trying to get the most out of nutritional programs, hauling and fitting, changes in environment, etc., it is almost certain their digestive system will be compromised or they will go off feed at some point in their lives. Being armed and ready with Vita Charge is an excellent way to combat those stressful times and ensure your livestock are back on feed fast. As a dealer, selling Sure Champ and Vita Charge together as complementary products is ensuring the utmost preparation and care for your customers and their animals.

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.

Product Focus: VITAFERM® HEAT


A common question our dealers, Area Sales Managers and nutritionists receive is what product should I feed after Concept•Aid®? VitaFerm® HEAT is a logical next step for producers who are concerned about heat stress and insect control. VitaFerm HEAT is a vitamin and mineral supplement used to reduce heat stress during warm seasons of 70 degrees and above, especially in fescue pastures. VitaFerm HEAT contains Amaferm® and Capsaicin, research proven to lower body temperature, which can help improve conception rates and maintain pregnancy. It also includes garlic, a natural insect repellent.


Key Selling Points:

  • Ideal summer mineral because it helps combat the negative effects of heat stress and fescue grasses.
  • Contains organic copper, zinc and manganese to support reproduction, immunity and hoof quality.
  • Contains Capsaicin, a unique combination of added extracts to help maintain circulation to support animal performance in both heat and fescue situations. Capsaicin is research proven to lower body temperature, which can help improve conception rates and maintain pregnancy.
  • Also includes garlic, a natural insect repellent.
  • Amaferm is a natural feed additive that acts as a prebiotic increasing digestibility to maximize the energy value of feed. It is research proven to maintain performance during heat stress. Amaferm supports the beneficial microbial population and fiber digestion that is often limited in fescue.

vitaFERM® HEAT ctc 3G

Key Selling Points:

  • All of the above plus…
  • VitaFerm Heat CTC 3G provides FDA approved level of Aureomycin® for control of Anaplasmosis that can severely impact reproductive performance within infected herds.

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® gel 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.

Product Focus: Vita Charge® and IGR Minerals

Tag’ Em, Vita Charge Em’

Calving season provides an excellent opportunity to capitalize on Vita Charge sales. Calving is stressful on both the cows and calves, and we all know that stress can negatively affect the digestive system. Vita Charge comes in seven different formulas giving producers the opportunity to select the product that is most convenient to administer and suited for the animal.

Vita Charge®

Key Selling Points:

  • Combines essential vitamins, organic trace mineral and Amaferm® to support microbial health
  • Creates measurable improvement in appetite and health
  • Has no interaction with antibiotics

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

Product Focus: IGR Minerals and New Concept•Aid® Power Tub

The key to a successful horn fly control program is starting early. BioZyme® offers two in-stock minerals with IGR: Concept•Aid® 5/S IGR + CTC 1.4G and Cattlemen’s Blend IGR + CTC 1.4G. No matter which product you choose, it is important to start feeding IGR 30 days prior to the last frost for the product to be most effective.

Concept•Aid® 5/s igr + CTC 1.4G
Key Selling Points

  • Highly fortified vitamin, mineral and organic trace mineral formula
  • Targets early cycling, egg production, conception and bull fertility
  • Contains a high level of vitamins to help the reproductive tract heal after calving
  • Nutrient dense to compliment low to good quality forage
  • Should be fed a minimum of 30 days prior to calving through breeding season

Key Selling Points

  • Economical solution to provide ample mineral and vitamin fortification to compliment a wide variety of forages
  • Contains organic copper to support immune function in the presence of antagonists

We are very excited about the newest addition to the VitaFerm Concept•Aid Power Product line.

The 50 lb. Concept•Aid Power Tub offers all of the benefits of the larger 200 lb. Concept•Aid Power Tub, but in a much more convenient size.

50 lb Concept•Aid® Power Tub
Key Selling Points

  • The smaller size is more convenient for moving and lifting
  • With a 5-15 head per tub feeding rate, this product is better suited for smaller groups of cattle
  • Contains 20% natural protein in addition to Concept•Aid mineral. When using this product, your cows get their daily mineral requirement in addition to a high quality protein
  • Feeds like a 54% protein product due to Amaferm®’s research proven increase in the natural protein produced by the cow (microbial protein) by an average of 34%.

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.