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Jennie Eilerts

Dillon Sackett: 2018 South Dakota State Champion Tie-down Roper

By | Horses, Youth Profiles | No Comments
Photo courtesy: John Sackett

Meet Dillon Sackett, the 2018 South Dakota State Champion Tie-down Roper! After looking for a solution to a hot and unfocused horse, Dillon’s found that Zesterra® makes the difference between a good roping and a great one.

PEAH: Hi Dillon! Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! First off, we’d like to know – what titles do you currently hold?

DS: Hello! Well, I was the 2017 20x Rodeo Showcase Champion Tie-Down Roper and this year I’m the 2018 South Dakota State Champion Tie-down Roper.

PEAH: Congratulations! That’s an impressive accomplishment! Obviously, you must belong to a few organizations. Which ones are you a part of?

DS: I belong to SDHSRA, SD-4H Rodeo, Little Britches Rodeo, SDRA, FFA, and the AQHA. I am also partnered with Hotheels Roping Dummy, and Ramona Horse Feed.

PEAH: It sounds like you’re really active and busy with all of these organizations. So tell us, how did you come to use Zesterra®?

DS: Zesterra® has majorly benefitted my horse throughout this high school rodeo season! My horse was hot in the box when we rope calves. Found out about Zesterra® and he stands like a rock in the box now! I have not heard a bad thing about Pro Earth Products.

PEAH: We’re so happy that it’s helping both you and your horse! Can you tell us what your goals for the next few months are?

DS: My goals for 2018 has been to be state champion tie-down roper and make nationals for the first time. There I hope to be 6th or better in the world at the end of nationals!

PEAH: We’re rooting for you! Tell us a little more about you… what would you like us to know?

DS: The horses I use are trained by my family and I. That’s what makes a win even better! Having Zesterra® for my horse throughout the 2018 year has made every bit of difference in winning a state championship in the tie-down!

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Meet Pro Earth Rep Heather Butler

By | Horses, Rep Profiles | No Comments
Photo courtesy: Heather Butler

Areas Served: Missouri & Arizona

One thing you can tell right off the bat when you talk to Heather Butler? She loves horses! Between training her own barrel horses and competing, she knows what it takes to keep them at their best.

Learn more about Heather! Read on…

PE: So, Heather, what made you want to get involved in working with Pro Earth?

HB: I have used Zesterra® on my own horses since I was introduced to it by a friend in Wyoming. My horses love the product and I have seen significant changes in their performance and behavior!

PE: What do you like most about our product(s)?

HB: Zesterra® is easy to administer and is available at a reasonable price. I also really like that the products are made with all-natural ingredients.

PE: What is one accomplishment you’re incredibly proud of?

HB: I trained two incredibly athletic 5-year-old mares to perform and compete with top competitors — all at just 5 years of age!

PE: So, what would you like us to know about you? Your family, hobbies… anything you would like us all to know.

HB: I really enjoy barrel racing, hunting, and fitness! I love the outdoors and spending time with family and friends. When I am not on horseback I can usually be found either at the gym or working on construction designs.

PE: Which Pro Earth Products do you offer to folks in your area?

HB: I currently offer Zesterra®.

PE: What is the easiest way for people to contact you? 

HB: It’s best to call or text me at: 435-531-3873.

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The Mare: Pregnancy Trimesters 1 – 3

By | Brood Mares, Foals, Horses | No Comments

First Trimester Care – A Confirmed Pregnancy

The first trimester of your mare’s pregnancy starts on the day of conception and ends at day 113.  During the first trimester, her nutritional requirements will be basically the same as they were before she became pregnant.

To ensure that your mare maintains a healthy weight, she can be maintained on high-quality forage, pasture or hay and unlimited access to a mineral salt block. If she’s a “hard-keeper”, supplementing with a concentrated feed and keeping her stomach pH balanced will help to maintain her body condition score and digestive integrity.

During this first trimester, best practices dictate that she not receive vaccinations in this period of time. It is, however, recommended that she be dewormed sometime between days 60-90.

While the dietary needs for your mare may not change much if, at all, special precautions should be taken to protect the newly-implanted pregnancy during the first 30 days.

These precautions include things such as reducing her workload and avoiding any high-intensity exercise. This is particularly important on those hot days.

Second Trimester Care – Maintaining Good Body Condition

The second trimester for your mare begins on day 114 and goes until day 225. This is sort of the “coasting” period. She can resume her regular workload (within reason) and shouldn’t have any energy deficits.

During the second trimester, your mare should receive a total of two EHV-1 vaccinations. One should be administered on day 150 of the pregnancy, along with a second deworming. The second EHV-1 should be administered on or around day 210.

Maintaining your mare during her second trimester includes providing a generous amount of high-quality hay and just enough grain or concentrated feed to keep her in moderate body condition. You may also need to add a vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure that all of her nutritional requirements are being met.

Third Trimester Care – The Home Stretch

The third, and final trimester for your mare runs from day 226 until around day 340 – the average foaling date.  This trimester is undisputedly the most important trimester in terms of fetal growth and development.

The first two trimesters of your mare’s pregnancy will be relatively easy with regards to care and support. Now that she is in the final stage, she is going to require more care and attention.

Due to the rapid growth of the fetus towards the latter part of the pregnancy, the nutritional needs of your mare will increase by about 30%.  It is imperative to concentrate on vital nutrients, vitamins, and mineral content of her feed – this is so much more important than just calories.

During this third and final stage of pregnancy, your mare will need to receive the most important set of vaccinations, known as “Pre-foaling” vaccinations.  These vaccinations are primarily for establishing a solid immune system in the foal, however, the mare certainly benefits from these vaccinations as well.

The administration of these vaccines during this time will help ensure that your mare produces high levels of antibodies that will provide the immunity-boosting building blocks of her colostrum.

Monitor your mare regularly when she’s close to term. By “regularly” that means “continually”, as in every hour.  It is particularly important to pay attention to anything that seems off.

The number one sign to look for is if your mare is lying down more than usual. Another thing to watch for is an abnormal vaginal discharge that may lead to infection and can be fatal to the foal.

The last part of the pregnancy can be an exciting, nerve-wracking time, to say the least.  Always go with your gut – if something seems alarming, contact your veterinarian right away. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

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Meet Pro Earth Rep Dave Jagow

By | Cattle, Horses, Rep Profiles | No Comments
Photos: Dave Jagow

Location: Hardwick, Minnesota

Talk to Dave Jagow for a few minutes and it’s apparent that if there’s one thing this man knows, it’s livestock. Located in the SW corner of Minnesota, Dave has grown a solid network of friends and fellow stockmen in the area.

Learn more about Dave! Read on…

PE: So, Dave, what made you want to get involved in working with Pro Earth?

DJ: I met Matt (Zancanella) a few years ago and became acquainted with him. I started using both the CattlActive® and Zesterra®. Last year I saw him at a stock show and he mentioned that he didn’t have anyone covering my area of Minnesota. I decided that because I believe in the products and what they can do, I wanted to share them with other livestock producers in my area.

PE: What do you like most about our product(s)?

DJ: I enjoy being able to show the results to people and letting them see for themselves what they can do. I also really love the ease of use.

PE: What is one accomplishment you’re incredibly proud of?

DJ: Introducing some of the smaller feedlots on CattlActive® and seeing it help their bottom line.

PE: So, what would you like us to know about you? Your family, hobbies… anything you would like us all to know.

DJ: Well, I’m married and have 4 kids. I’ve worked in agriculture my whole career — feedlots, cow/calf operations, and now I’m the transportation manager for New Horizon Farms. In my free time, I enjoy trail riding and ranch rodeos. I also collect and trade old bits and spurs and have recently become interested in old cast iron cookware.

PE: Which Pro Earth Products do you offer to folks in your area?

DJ: I offer CattlActive® and Zesterra®. I also carry the lick tubs for both products.

PE: What area(s) do you serve?

DJ: I am located in the SW corner of Minnesota and serve Worthington, Rock County, Pipestone County, Nobles County, and Murray County.

PE: What is the easiest way for people to contact you? 

DJ: I’m most easily reached by phone. My number is 507-290-2183

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Meet Pro Earth Rep Blake Sutton

By | Cattle, Horses, Rep Profiles | No Comments
Photos: Blake Sutton

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Health and fitness aren’t just trendy leanings for Pro Earth Rep Blake Sutton — they’re a way of life. His enthusiasm to share his knowledge and resources doesn’t just stop at people — he specializes in compounded pharmaceuticals for the veterinary industry.

Learn more about Blake! Read on…

PE: So, Blake, what made you want to get involved in working with Pro Earth?

BS: I’ve been in the Animal Health industry close to 10 years, selling compounded pharmaceuticals for small and large animal hospitals (equine hospitals), so I really wanted to offer my clients another healthy alternative to medications. It’s helped me diversify my business nicely. I have clients all over the country, so by offering PEAH products to them now, I thought it was a smart move for my business.

PE: What do you like most about our product(s)?

BS: The thing I absolutely love about the PEAH line of products is the all-natural option to offer your clients, help them, and inform them about preventative health. It’s fun tackling health issues before they even happen.

PE: What is one accomplishment you’re incredibly proud of?

BS: I’m proud of keeping my lifestyle healthy and fit. Being active is a big part of my life, so eating right and working out is something I’m consistent with and proud of because it’s not exactly easy to do as you get older.

PE: So, what would you like us to know about you? Your family, hobbies… anything you would like us all to know.

BS: I’m a Wisconsin guy at heart, born and raised in Beaver Dam, WI. After high school, I played golf at University of Wisconsin – Parkside (Kenosha, WI DII) and graduated with a BA of Science in Health and Fitness.

I enjoy fishing, golfing, playing tennis, going to the gym, wake surfing and enjoying the summer. When I’m not being active I enjoy relaxing, having a nice dinner with a Brandy Old-Fashioned Sweet.

PE: Which Pro Earth Products do you offer to folks in your area?

BS: I offer CattlActive® and Zesterra®. I also carry the lick tubs for both products, along with Cut-Away and Tummy Tamerz.

PE: What area(s) do you serve?

BS: I am based in Milwaukee, but cover Madison, Green Bay and Kalamazoo, Michigan, as well.

PE: What is the easiest way for people to contact you? 

BS: I’m available by phone at 920-319-0785 or via email at ccsmeds@gmail.com

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The Mare: Pre-Breeding Considerations

By | Brood Mares, Foals, Horses | No Comments

Whether you are a new to horse breeding or are an experienced breeder, it is crucial to understand the importance of properly caring for your pregnant mare to ensure for a safe and healthy birth for both mother and foal.

Let’s face it — while this is an exciting time, it can be very stressful. Even the most experienced breeders have questions that come up.

To successfully care for your pregnant mare while minimizing the stress it can have on you, it is helpful to have some guidelines to follow.

Pre-Breeding Considerations

Before you consider breeding your mare, there are things that should be taken into consideration.

Body Condition Scoring

A universal method to measure weight and fat distribution, called body condition scoring, has become one of the most effective tools used by breeders.

The vague terms “hard keeper” or “fatter than a county fair hog” are no longer relevant when considering a mare’s breeding readiness.

When you are considering breeding your mare, studies have shown that mares with a body condition score of 5, 6, or 7, have over a 90% higher chance of getting pregnant than those with lower or higher scores.

The Current Nutrition and Gut Health of the Mare

Mares are expected to carry a healthy foal for 11 months and produce enough milk for that foal for at least 6 months.  Therefore, it would seem logical how critical a role nutrition plays in breeding.

Nutritional management, in many ways, determines the success of breeding in the mare due to the influences it has on the various cycles of production.

Good nutrition doesn’t just involve feeding the right kinds of feed. It also is highly dependent on the mare’s ability to properly digest and absorb nutrients.

A low pH can result in a whole range of issues, including poor absorption and ulcers. When the pH is low, the gut flora can become unbalanced, with a die-off of beneficial microbes and an explosion of the pathogenic flora. When this happens, a horse’s ability to properly digest and utilize nutrients is compromised.

Then we come to ulcers. Gastric ulcers are more prevalent among broodmares than you might expect. According to one study, an alarming 70.9% of the mares included had gastric ulcers. The pain caused by these ulcers can lead to a decrease in feed consumption and stress, raising overall cortisol levels.

When Was the Last Foal Born?

Surprisingly, the reason to consider this is similar as to with humans. The mare’s gestation period lasts approximately 11 months, and then mare will nurse its foal for approximately 6 months.  The general rule for mares (and for humans for that matter) is to allow the mare to have the appropriate time for her cycle to normalize. This will optimize the mare’s chances of a successful breed-back and pregnancy.

Consider the Mare’s Age

The age at which a mare can breed and should be bred are two different things.  A healthy mare will start cycling, can be bred and even become pregnant in their yearling spring, often before their first full year of life.

Studies show that breeding fillies this early in life will frequently lead to a smaller foal and less milk production from the mare. It also may result in underdevelopment of the mare herself, as many of the resources she’d be using to grow are going to the development of the foal.

The general consensus within the horse/veterinary community has been to give fillies additional time to mature by allowing them to reach 3 years of age before breeding to successfully carry a pregnancy to term.

On the opposite spectrum, mares often will carry foals into their 20’s with no problem.  However, it is now well documented that the eggs of mares over 18 years old have a very high incidence of inherent defects that result in a high rate of early pregnancy loss (20-30% or higher).  Therefore, it is sometimes best to consider the health of the mare, rather than the age.

Conditioning for Breeding

Okay, so by now you have a general idea of what things to consider prior to breeding your mare.  Now let’s discuss the next step, conditioning your mare for breeding.

Because mares are not the most fertile animals (conception rate is approximately noted to be 60%), in order to avoid frustration and excessive expenses there are things you can do to maximize a successful breeding.

Optimal health in your mare is essential to achieve the greatest reproductive efficiency.  By being proactive you can take the necessary steps to attain this optimal health in your mare.

General health includes making sure your horse is in good physical condition.  Your mare’s diet should consist of high-quality feed to ensure proper weight which directly can influence regular cycling of the mare.  Equally as important is good dental health by having your mare’s teeth examined regularly.  It is also recommended having your mare dewormed every 6-8 weeks.

Required vaccinations should be met prior to breeding your mare.  It’s important to remember that vaccines are only as effective as the immune system is strong. If your mare has recently had an illness, injury or other stressors, you may want to wait to vaccinate until she has recovered.

There are different requirements depending on what region of the country your mare is living. Talk to your veterinarian about which vaccinations your mare will need to be covered in your particular area.

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Prebiotics: What They Are and What They Do

By | Acidosis and Shipping Fever, Branding, Cattle, Cow-Calf, Pre-Conditioning | No Comments

Prebiotics are an important part of the digestive cycle and especially for mammals. Although much research has been conducted on the importance of probiotics, it’s only been in recent years that the role of prebiotics has been closely examined and studied.

Not to be confused with probiotics, prebiotics support the health and continued growth of the beneficial microbes that make up prebiotics.

These findings have led to a major change in the way prebiotics and probiotics are being used in the cattle producer’s operation to help minimize the need for antibiotics while increasing gains.

Definition of Prebiotics

Prebiotics are feed ingredients that are not digestible or only partially digestible. They provide colonies of beneficial bacteria in the gut with “food” so they can continue to flourish. This, in turn, works to maintain a balanced digestive microbiota.

In specific, cattle benefit from the undigestible sugars that are often found in fibrous plant material. Most feedstuffs contain at least a small amount of prebiotic material. Prebiotics can be found naturally at some level in almost any feed.

This includes grass and other forage, grains, and formulated concentrated feeds. Some products on the market even add specialized blends of prebiotics.

How Do Prebiotics Work?

When a cow consumes feed, the rumen works to break it down more and more as it moves sequentially through each stomach chamber. In this way, the feed it is eating has the highest chance of being gleaned of nutrients for the cow’s utilization.

By the time this digesta reaches the intestinal tract nearly all of the nutrient-containing components have been extracted, allowing for the final stages of digestion and absorption into the body. The only exception to this is the undigestible matter that remains unprocessed. Much of this matter serves as a prebiotic.

Once these prebiotics reach the intestinal tract they begin to ferment, where they produce volatile fatty acids such as butyric acid. The beneficial bacteria in the gut thrive on these volatile fatty acids (VFAs), which in turn allows them to grow more robust and increase their numbers.

What Is the Most Common Source of Prebiotics in the Bovine Diet?

In an unenhanced diet (i.e. feedstuffs that have not been seeded with prebiotics), the most plentiful source or prebiotics comes from plant material such as hay or alfalfa. The undigestible fiber and other components in this roughage provide an excellent source of prebiotic material.

This is, in part, why cattle that are on a concentrated feed diet may be more prone to experiencing intestinal microbial imbalances.

To counter this issue with concentrated feeds, many companies are now offering diets using a wide variety of prebiotics. Perhaps the most widely known of these are mannan oligosaccharides (MOS).

MOS are highly beneficial for attracting and carrying harmful pathogens from the gut. They work by drawing in bad bacteria with a sugar known as mannose. These bacteria cannot derive energy from the sugar but do stick to it. They are then carried from the animal’s system without managing to infect it or further populate the gut.

Other prebiotics that have also shown to be valuable in developing a healthy digestive system include fructooligosaccharides and beta glucan.

Why Are Prebiotics Necessary?

The health of the digestive system and gut microbiota (as discussed in the first installment) is dependent upon the balance of microbes inhabiting the intestines.

Every animal has a different microbial makeup that forms their own individual microbiome. Despite this, there is one fact that is the same across the board – there must be a much higher level of beneficial microbes than commensal or pathogenic.

Prebiotics feed the beneficial bacteria that line the gut walls. They are responsible for helping further digest food, increase nutrient absorption and keep the pathogenic microbes at manageable numbers. They also provide a sort of “buffer” that prevents toxins from passing through the intestinal walls and into the bloodstream.

When enough prebiotics are not being introduced into the digestive system, the beneficial microbes don’t have access to the needed “food” that keeps them functioning and multiplying. As they “starve” they begin to die off in increasingly larger numbers.

As this die-off occurs, acid-producing harmful bacteria are able to establish themselves in larger numbers on the gut walls.

Once too much of the beneficial microbe population has been destroyed, it’s difficult to get the balance back where it belongs.

How Can Prebiotics Help?

In animals with a healthy gut microbiota, keeping an adequate level of prebiotics in the diet will help maintain the status quo. However, for those animals that have a compromised digestive system, prebiotics may be the key to giving them an honest chance at becoming healthy.

It has been found that calves that receive adequate prebiotics both pre and post-weaning tend to have greater gains. This is due to increased nutrient absorption.

A popular remedy for calves that are poor doers is to administer lactulose, a synthetic disaccharide. Studies have found that calves that have been given this course of therapy frequently develop strong immune systems and are able to overcome some of the issues associated with premature birth.

Additionally, prebiotics increase the body’s ability to rid itself of waste and toxins by increasing stool size, moisture content and composition. Both constipation and diarrhea can be devastating conditions for the young calf.

In Conclusion

Prebiotics are an absolutely necessary aspect of maintaining a healthy microbiome. The gut’s ability to function optimally depends on two main things – how strong the beneficial microbial population is and whether or not the pH is properly balanced.

Both of these functions depend on the presence of adequate amounts of prebiotics to support the digestive system.

SOURCES:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4462921/

http://ijlr.org/issue/prebiotics-new-feed-supplement-dairy-calf/

http://www.credenceresearch.com/press/global-prebiotics-in-animal-feed-market

https://www.progressivedairy.com/topics/feed-nutrition/youve-heard-about-probiotics-for-cows-but-what-about-prebiotics

http://feedlotmagazine.com/benefits-of-using-probiotics-prebiotics-in-cattle-feed/

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What is a microbiome?

By | Acidosis and Shipping Fever, Branding, Cattle, Cow-Calf, Pre-Conditioning | No Comments

What In the World Is A Microbiome?

Part one of a three-part series on the microbiome and the role of the digestive system in the overall health of cattle.

Let’s face it – ruminants are some of the most complexly-designed animals on the planet. Their multi-chambered stomachs must be in sync like clockwork to ensure the animal gets the nutrients it needs.

These inner workings are further complicated by the fact that the resident microbial population must maintain a careful balance in order for proper digestion to take place.

You may have heard the term “microbiome” before. For as important as it is, it very rarely features in discussions surrounding the gut-immune system link.

To understand the roles of the various parts of the digestive system, including its microbial element, it’s helpful to know what the microbiome is and how it functions as a whole.

The skinny of a microbiome

The honed-down definition of a microbiome is a group of different kinds microorganisms that live together, creating a unique miniature ecosystem in a host. Think of it this way: The entire body is a city. Within that city are numerous inhabitants including plants and animals that create the residents.

Within this microbiome, these residents include symbiotic, commensal and pathogenic bacteria, viruses and fungi. In this particular case, the microbiome is the cow’s body.

Now, onto these neighborhoods. In every living organism are multiple “neighborhoods” or communities known as microbiota. Each of these is unique in the types and numbers of different microbes living within that group. Microbiota are present in every part of the body.

For the purposes of this article, the main focus will be on the bacterial microbiome that is found in the cow’s digestive system.

The Good, the Bad, The Lazy: different bacteria of the microbiome

There are three different categories of bacteria that live in the microbiome. These three categories are symbiotic, commensal and pathogenic.

Symbiotic bacteria are those bacteria that work with the body and contribute positively to the animal’s well-being. In true symbiotic fashion, they take what they need from the host, and in return, give the host something it needs.

Commensal bacteria are the freeloaders of the bacterial world. They don’t hurt the host, but certainly don’t provide anything, either.

Then we come to the pathogenic bacteria. These “criminals” of the bacterial world are usually present in the fewest numbers. They are very opportunistic and will take advantage if they find a weakness in the system. This is when they are most likely to cause disease.

The overall health of a microbiome determines how everyone lives together and whether or not the pathogenic bacteria will be able to take hold and cause disease. In healthy animals, they live side-by-side with smaller populations of the “bad” bacteria being kept to a minimum.

Got microbiome?

Literally every multi-celled animal (and even plants) on the planet depend on their microbiomes to keep them healthy and alive. Focusing in even closer, the individual microbiota in a microbiome serves its own purpose, making sure the whole can function properly.

A cow’s body has a multi-layered system of defenses that protect it from disease. This is where the microbiome shines as the hero.

Starting with its hide, this is the first defense barrier. It physically protects against the invasion of pathogens and other foreign substances from entering the body.

Up next are the mucous membranes. They play host to a wide variety of cells and microbes that help prevent disease. They also provide a layer of protection for underlying tissues.

Last, but not least, we have the gut. The gut is the number-one most important element of a healthy microbiome.

How?

Sure, it breaks down food and makes it useable. Between digestive enzymes and acids, the bulk of the feed gets broken down. Then what? This is where the symbiotic bacteria present in the gut get their moment to shine.

They further break down feed into absorbable nutrients and, in the process, create some pretty amazing metabolic by-products that are actually highly beneficial to the cow.

These chemicals support a healthy gut lining. They neutralize excess acid and encourage the growth of more beneficial bacteria. This not only crowds out any extra pathogens but also keeps toxins from crossing the gut barrier and entering into the bloodstream.

Big bonus: they promote stimulation and support of the overall immune system.

How does the ruminal microbiome develop?

A calf’s system is a blank slate when it’s born. When in utero, the calf doesn’t have to contend with bacterial or viral issues – ideally, its mother’s body takes care of all of that.

Once it is born, the creation of its unique microbiome begins.

Exposure to microbes found in the birth canal are the first the calf will encounter. From there, the next introduction is to those found in the environment around it – the air, soil, and plant life it comes into contact with will contribute new microbial elements to the overall development of its microbiome.

A calf’s gut doesn’t have any marked populations of bacteria, fungus, yeast or viruses until it nurses for the first time. The combination of the microbes found in those first feedings of a cow’s colostrum, along with any found on the teats provide the framework for the gut’s development.

Because these first nursings determine a calf’s health for the rest of its life, it’s integral that the mother have a strong and healthy rumen that allows her to produce a high-quality colostrum.

Obviously, the microbial population plays the biggest role in the development of the digestive microbiome. Despite this, additional factors such as genetic makeup and the diet have a significant influence on the ongoing health of the microbiome.

Antibiotics: both friend and foe

Believe it or not, the average cow’s microbiome, and in turn its digestive microbiota, was actually healthier a hundred years ago than it is today.

This is due to the introduction and overuse of antibiotics. While these drugs can literally be the difference between life and death when facing a major bacterial infection, they can also be the worst enemy of the balance of the microbiome.

The reason for this is because antibiotics are unable to determine which microbes are beneficial and which are harmful. They end up killing the majority of the bacteria they encounter, pathogenic or not.

As the balance of bacteria is disturbed, the entire microbiome – not just in the gut – is thrown out of whack. This gives opportunistic microbes such as yeasts and funguses a chance to grow unchecked.

The use of antibiotics is being closely examined now. Careful use and management are helping many producers avoid developing antibiotic-resistant diseases in their herds.

Sustaining a healthy microbiome

Ensuring your herd maintains healthy microbiomes can be a big task but is well worth it. The most important aspect of this is giving your cattle a stress-free environment. This helps reduce the production of various chemical components (including gastric acids and cortisol), thus helping maintain homeostasis.

Secondly, directly supporting the microbiome with a healthy diet that is rich in nutrients and has a high prebiotic content.

The cow’s microbiome is the determining factor in its success or failure. Whether raising breeding stock, a feeder calf or a dairy cow, maintaining the balanced microbiome is pivotal in ensuring that animal thrives during its lifespan.

In the next installments, we will cover the importance of prebiotics and their role in maintaining a well-balanced gut and overall microbiome.

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Understanding Adaptive Immunity

By | Acidosis and Shipping Fever, Branding, Cattle, Cow-Calf, Pre-Conditioning | No Comments

The Adaptive Immune System:

What It Is and How It Works

The immune system. It’s an abstract concept that, at best, is confusing.

It’s common knowledge that the immune system protects against disease-causing pathogens. For instance, a cut may become contaminated with foreign material such as dirt or debris that contains bacteria.

The immune system then detects a threat, kicks in, and sends an army of different cells to mop up the damage and kill off the invading germs.

This type of immune response is the perfect answer when there is an immediate threat; the body does what it must to take care of the pressing possibility of infection.

In a perfect universe, a basic immune response would eliminate any threat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

So, what about when the body is exposed to specific pathogens time and time again? This is where the adaptive immune system gets its chance to take the wheel, or in some cases, work alongside the innate immune system.

A Closer Look at Adaptive Immunity

Every creature on the planet must carry some sort of immunity that allows it to fight off disease that can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi. From insects to elephants, they must have a strong immune system in order to thrive.

Babies of all species are born with a small amount of immunity (innate immunity) and receive a major boost from the colostrum they get from their mothers in the first days of life.

This immunity allows them to contend with minor infections and helps them to resist common, everyday pathogens. What they are lacking is the more specific responses of adaptive immunity. This is where time, exposure and vaccinations come in.

Each time the body is exposed to a new pathogen, the adaptive immune system “remembers” it and develops specific antibodies to destroy that disease. For instance, childhood chickenpox is only contracted once (in most cases).

Once the body has recovered from a disease, it then recognizes and ideally develops specific antibodies to prevent infection by that disease from ever occurring again. The next time exposure occurs, the adaptive immune system will recognize the virus and be lying in wait to kill it off before it can cause infection again.

Vaccinations work from this principle. A weakened, modified or killed version of a disease is introduced into the body. It elicits a response from the immune system to take care of the invading pathogen.

Because it is not a full-blown version, it does not cause clinical illness. It does, however, pack enough of a punch to make the body recognize it and build antibodies to protect against future infection from the pathogen.

Unfortunately, the body doesn’t just come by strong adaptive immunity. There are a few factors that help determine whether an individual’s immune system will be able to properly develop antibodies. The most important of these factors is digestive integrity.

While it may sound odd, most of the immune system develops in and is dependent on a strong digestive system.

Leaky gut syndrome and acidosis can wear down the body’s ability to create effective defenses. This, in turn, leads to an inability to develop strong, disease-specific antibodies, opening the animal up to the possibility of serious disease.

What Does This Have To Do With Cattle?

In the case of cattle, a focused protocol that encourages the growth and support of beneficial gut flora is key. Maintaining a thriving colony of beneficial microbes relies heavily on a balanced pH.

Although any species can experience acidosis, cattle are arguably one of the most impacted by this condition.

By keeping acidosis from developing, a cow has a much greater chance of being healthy and maintaining a strong adaptive immune system.

Want to learn more about how you can help your cattle thrive? Check out what CattlActive can do for you!

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Keeping Your Horse Hydrated on the Road

By | Brood Mares, Foals, Horses, Performance/Competition Horses | No Comments

One of the biggest challenges you may face is keeping your horse hydrated while traveling. Horses can become dehydrated fairly quickly and this is doubly true during hot weather. The average horse (around 1,200 lbs) requires around 5 – 10 gallons of water a day just to survive. While it’s true that you can’t make a horse drink, you can certainly make them want to.

Here are some tips to help your horse stay hydrated on the road.

  • Feed a moisture-rich meal before loading up. This can be done by soaking their hay in water for about an hour prior to feeding, making a soupy mash or grain meal or soaking alfalfa or hay pellets. If you’re going to be on the road for a while, consider hanging a hay net filled with soaked hay to provide a little extra moisture and keep your horse hydrated. Be careful to not allow wet hay to sit too long in warm temperatures — alfalfa, especially, can start to spoil fairly quickly when wet and exposed to heat. You can continue this practice when you arrive at your stopping point to give them that extra little boost.
  • Take water from home with you. While it isn’t always feasible to take a full supply of water with you if you’re going to be gone for a long period of time, take enough for two or three days. Horses have a tendency to refuse water that is “foreign” or tastes or smells different from the water they’re used to drinking at home. This can go a long way toward ensuring that your horses are going to drink when you arrive at your destination.
  • Supplement with electrolytes. If your horse is going to be exerting itself in any way, it might be a good idea to offer him an electrolyte supplement in his water.
  • Flavor unfamiliar water. If you aren’t able to bring a large enough supply of water from home, try a water additive to help perk up the taste of the new water and encourage drinking. Many people have great success with apple juice, sweet feed “tea” (soak a couple of handfuls of sweet feed in a half-gallon of water for two hours, then add the “juice” to your horse’s water bucket) or Gatorade (they prefer the fruit punch flavor, in general). It’s a good idea to start this practice ahead of leaving so that he develops a taste for the flavored water and will gladly drink it anywhere.
  • Stop frequently to offer water. Be sure to offer water while traveling — a good rule of thumb is every 2 – 4 hours.
  • Let them off to pee. Some horses refuse to urinate in the trailer. If feasible, allow him to get off the trailer and walk around a bit and if needed, urinate. An animal that has an empty bladder is much more likely to be willing to drink.

Eliminating some of the travel stress for your horse will also help eliminate travel stress on you. If you have a horse that will willingly drink on the road, you are helping ensure that they won’t experience colic or other dehydration-related issues that can plague dehydrated horses.

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