The marketing system of today’s cattle industry causes many challenges for preconditioners and stocker operators. Calves being weaned and hauled directly to the sale barn and commingled with calves from other herds is one of the practices that creates what is called “High Risk” calves. Calves get exposed to airborne pathogens and gastrointestinal challenges during this process that can send their health into a downward spiral. Most of these calves are sold at an early age before they have developed any immunity or learned to eat feed from a trough. Calves are often hauled to the sale barn two to three days before they are actually sold ,making the situation even riskier due to lack of nutrition. Lack of nutrition, separation anxiety, and handling stress can cause an increase in acid production and die-off of the important bacteria and protozoa that live in the rumen. The fact that 80% of the calf’s’ immune system is located in the rumen, makes it very important to neutralize this acid and provide the microbes a satisfactory environment to thrive. It is also important to neutralize this acid to restore the mucosal lining of the rumen. This mucosal lining is an important line of defense for the rumen because it prevents bacteria from leaking out of the rumen into the blood stream of the calf where it becomes detrimental. When these bacteria leak into the bloodstream the calf ‘s health is compromised allowing environmental and airborne pathogens to invade the calf. These secondary viruses and pathogens are very contagious and are the causes of most “wrecks” during the preconditioning phase. Prevention of this process is the key to reducing the loss of production, medicine cost, morbidity, and mortality.
CattlActive reverses this process before it becomes detrimental to the calf’s health, by neutralizing the acid that is created by stress. Reducing the acid quickly reduces acidosis helping the calf’s appetite. Increased appetite is the primary factor to a healthy calf.
On the average, producers pull and treat 15 to 20% of the calves they purchase due to sickness. Depending on the treatment protocol, this can cost upwards of 38$/ head and if a calf is treated twice this cost can completely eliminate the profit margin for that calf based on today’s prices.
Along with sickness, the acid produced by the above factors causes lack of appetite and loss of weight gain. The average calf takes 3 to 14 days to adjust and start eating feed when they arrive to be preconditioned. This time of adjustment is a loss of production of a minimum of 20 lbs, at market prices that cost the producer 30$/ head. If a calf gets sick and has to be treated with antibiotics it can lose 40 lbs. in that time period, costing a producer 100$ in lost production and medicine, eliminating any chance for profit on that calf. Calves that have to be treated twice for sickness never reach genetic potential for weight and quality grade when sold as fat cattle. Preventing this process is paramount to making a profit in the cattle feeding business.
“High Risk” calves pose the preconditioner two main challenges. First, getting that calf to eat and drink as quickly as possible to regain health and weight and secondly to maintain health until that calf can develop immunity to environmental and airborne diseases. Gut health along with a good vaccination program and good nutrition are a preconditioner’s main tools for achieving success with “High Risk” calves. Calves that gain more during the preconditioning and growing phase are proven to gain more during the all important finishing stage. Using CattlActive to neutralize the acid caused by stress is an important tool to lowering medicine costs, increasing weight gain, resulting in higher profits for the preconditioner and stocker cattle operators.