“Leave nothing to chance.”
That is perhaps one of the most important lessons that Spencer Nero learned during his time at college. He didn’t learn it from some educated professor in a giant lecture hall. Instead, he learned it from the late Nathan Payne, owner and operator at Bud’s Barbershop along The Strip in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Nero recalls his regular visits with Payne and the lessons he learned from the seasoned barber that now help him on his cow-calf and backgrounding operation near Checotah, Oklahoma. Payne often told the young college kid that there’s always a reason something happens; nothing is ever left to chance.
As a man with many irons in the fire – owner of a residential concrete business, shift supervisor at a glass plant and owner of his cattle enterprise – it is imperative that Nero leaves nothing to chance with his cattle. That’s why he believes in a premium mineral program to keep his herd healthy and performing. A herd that is healthy and stress-free enough to require minimal upkeep and treatments.
“Personally, mineral is the most important thing to change the health of a calf. I’m not afraid to give them a little extra, if they need it,” he said.
A good mineral program is vital to Nero as he gets in and backgrounds several loads of young, light weight, high-risk calves each year. He contracts these calves out to be used for roping calves. However, as soon as they walk off the trailer onto his place, they start receiving the best care he can give them starting with the Vita Charge® Cattle Drench and Vita Charge Stress Tubs. Vita Charge Cattle Drench supports digestive health and promotes feed and water intake during times of stress and recovery. It contains Amaferm®, a precision-based prebiotic that impacts intake, feed digestibility and nutrient absorption to help combat stress and support the animal’s own immune system.
Prior to starting his calves on the Vita Charge Cattle Drench, Nero said that he would give them multiple shots as they were unloading from the truck, adding to the stress of travel, acclimating to a new environment and likely having just been weaned before loading in the semi and traveling hundreds of miles to Nero Cattle Company.
“My whole protocol has changed because of that drench. I used to give a lot of antibiotics, fill them up with shots, but once I started using drench, I’ve eliminated every shot I give them. Now, I give them the drench and I worm them. That’s pretty much it for the first week until the they are eating good and drinking good. Then we’ll come back and work them. That way we don’t stress them out internally and externally. If we have them feeling better on the inside, they won’t stress out so much on the outside. Reducing the stress factor is the biggest thing I’ve done, thanks to the Drench. Live and learn and try to get it right,” Nero said.
After he gets the calves off the trailer, he makes sure to keep them healthy and performing with the help of the Vita Charge Stress Tubs. Nero said he makes sure he has plenty of these tubs scattered around in his pens to give his calves free choice access when they want it.
“When I bring in at-risk calves at 130 to 400 pounds, there are Vita Charge Stress Tubs out 24/7. I don’t care if people think that’s overconsumption because if they are eating it, they need it,” Nero said.
In addition to scattering the Stress Tubs out around his pens, he also sets out the VitaFerm® HEAT® mineral out about 40 to 50 feet from his water sources. VitaFerm HEAT is a free-choice vitamin and mineral supplement for beef cattle to help prevent heat stress during temperatures of 70 degrees and hotter. The unique combination of clove, cinnamon and chili pepper help maintain circulation to support animal performance. That blend of plant extracts and Amaferm are both research-proven to maintain core body temperature, therefore helping lower heat stress.
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of Nero’s herd is that his cows have benefited from the Amaferm advantage most of their lives. His older cows are now 5 years old and came to his ranch as high-risk roping calves from Louisiana. He sold off the Brahman-influenced crossed with Angus steer calves and kept those heifers to turn in to breeding stock. When that group of calves first came on his ranch, he was giving every animal the Vita Charge Paste (now Vita Charge Gel) to jump start their appetite.
Now, those Brangus cows are getting Amaferm in their VitaFerm Concept•Aid® 5/S, a premier breeding mineral that helps get his cows bred and keeps them bred. Nero has been approached by other mineral sales reps, but he’s satisfied with the BioZyme products he buys from Green’s Elevator. He said he’s found a product that works for all aspects of his operation, so why would he change.
“My cattle are fresh, have good color and they are having babies, which is the most important thing. They have been on VitaFerm all their life; some of them are third and fourth generation BioZyme users. They’ve been through the program. I’ve found something that works, and I don’t want to try something else,” Nero said.
And when a new product becomes available, he tries it. Last summer, he was mixing the Concept•Aid® 5/S with the VitaFerm HEAT mineral. This spring, BioZyme launched VitaFerm Concept•Aid® 5/S HEAT, a real game changer for a busy man like Nero.
“I can always tell if those cows have run out of HEAT mineral. One thing I’ve noticed, I will see more flies on them. I tell people it’s not a silver bullet, and you’re not going to get rid of all the flies, but the number of flies of you’re going to have is minimized with the HEAT mineral. Years back I probably sprayed cows once a week with fly spry. Now I might spray them once every two weeks. And the cows here at the barn might be sprayed once a month,” Nero said. “My cows get left in the tracks when it comes to getting care. I have not seen a cow in the pond at all this year. I think that has a lot to do with the HEAT mineral.”
Leave nothing to chance. Nero has taken that advice from a seasoned barber and applied it to his Oklahoma cattle ranch. He doesn’t take a chance on herd health and nutrition. He doesn’t take a chance on losing even one calf by skimping on his mineral program. And he doesn’t take a chance on getting his cows bred by neglecting their health protocols either.
“I buy the mineral. There is no amount of money on keeping one alive. If I didn’t use it, and I lost one calf, at the end of the year, that’s like losing 700 bucks,” he said.
Don’t leave your herd’s health to chance. If you are looking for a quality nutrition program for weaning and or receiving calves that can work all the way through breeding and calving cows, look no further than products from BioZyme with the Amaferm advantage.