For the past 70 years Graham Angus Farm in Georgia has been known for its quality Angus genetics, but what most cattle producers might not know about the commercial operation is the farm has recently found success with implants.
“The extra gain from using implants translates to extra dollars,” said Kip McMillan, cattle manager. “With an average $2 investment per implant, we can see an added 25 pounds in weight on cattle, which easily brings an extra $50 per head. I feel comfortable that implants are a very solid investment.”
Calving at Graham Angus Farm runs from January through early March. At 45 days old, calves are tagged, tattooed and banded and receive their first round of vaccinations. At this time, calves are implanted with SYNOVEX C. At weaning when calves are 8 months old, steers are implanted with SYNOVEX S to boost gain.
“Our steers are just as heavy as the bull calves, and I think the implants are making up for that,” McMillan said.
Implants change the rate at which animals deposit muscle, and it makes them more efficient in dietary protein utilization, transferring protein to muscle, explains Daniel Scruggs, DVM, managing veterinarian with Zoetis.
“When calves are on the cow and nursing, gaining 1.5 to 2 pounds a day, you can anticipate you’ll have between 15 and 22 pounds additional weaning weights on the calves, if they’ve been implanted,” Scruggs said. “Calves receive a lower dose implant because of their size, but like any implant, the magnitude of increased gain is improved with better nutrition.”
Calves are mostly nursing, so implant performance is improved with better milking cows. Creep feed or other supplemental nutrition can improve calf implant performance in less optimally milking cows. If calves aren’t receiving proper nutrition, the benefit of the implant will be reduced.
There is a commonly held misconception of lower prices for implanted cattle.
“Our cattle are always implanted and top every sale we go to,” McMillan said. “The gain you see is going to offset any premium you might receive by not being implanted and selling ‘natural’ calves. Implants are an inexpensive investment and offer a great return. I wouldn’t recommend implanting to other cattlemen if I wasn’t already doing it myself.”