Growing up on a 5,000-head feedyard in the Oklahoma Panhandle, Jeff Sarchet, senior veterinarian, Zoetis Beef Technical Services, observed firsthand the benefits of well-managed cattle coming in from the stocker level.
“I work with a number of stocker operations across the country, and no matter the region, they share the same priority at this level of beef production — improving gain,” Sarchet said in a recent release.
There are several strategies for improving stocker gain. Here are Sarchet’s top three suggestions to put to work on your operation:
1. Eliminate parasites and a depressed immune system: Parasites drain the immune system. With the younger age of stocker cattle and the potential for higher risk of bovine respiratory disease (BRD), any boost to the immune system is beneficial. Parasites not only affect the immune system, they also suppress appetite and limit optimum gain.
“I suggest incorporating DECCOX into the supplemental feed or as a top dress on feed to prevent coccidiosis, caused by a common protozoan parasite that is a drain on both production and the calves’ immune systems, as well as using a broad-spectrum dewormer like DECTOMAX or VALBAZEN to control internal parasites,” Sarchet said.
Controlling parasites in cattle is not just beneficial for an animal’s immune system — there are performance advantages, as well. It’s estimated that internal parasites cost the cattle industry about $3 billion each year in lost weight gains, poor feed conversion, and increased disease.
2. Prevent and control BRD: BRD can significantly reduce gain in cattle and is a devastating disease for both cattle and producers, costing the industry up to $1 billion annually from loss of production, increased labor expenses, treatment costs, and death.
To help reduce losses from BRD, it is important for producers to control BRD before it hits their operation. Used concurrently, INFORCE 3 and ONE SHOT BVD work quickly to provide protection from harmful BRD pathogens and give cattle a healthy start. When cattle are at increased risk of BRD, Sarchet also recommends using a broad-spectrum antimicrobial on arrival, like DRAXXIN (tulathromycin) Injectable Solution, as part of an effective BRD control program.
3. Implant for increased gain and operational flexibility: Using implants will increase metabolic efficiency, which results in higher gain. The amount of gain is dependent upon the level of nutrition and implant used. When implanting with SYNOVEX, ranchers can produce more pounds of beef.
In research studies, steers receiving SYNOVEX ONE GRASS implants had a 17.2 percent improvement in gain over nonimplanted steers, and heifers receiving SYNOVEX ONE GRASS achieved an 11.3 percent increase in average daily gain. There are a number of implant options to select from to increase gain at the stocker level.