Custom health program is cornerstone to feedyard's success
Dale Moore, owner of the Cattleman's Choice Feedyard in Gage, Okla., has seen it time and again when he markets cattle on a grid system. Healthy cattle always grade better and receive higher prices.
"It doesn't matter whether producers are retaining ownership or selling their cattle in a sale barn," Moore says. "By spending $5 to $6 on vaccine and a half-day's labor, you are protecting a valuable investment. You can't doctor a calf for less than $30, so why not prevent that cost?"
Moore takes prevention a step further. He works closely with his clients to make sure they understand how important it is to have a preventive health program in place.
"You are passing along added value to a potential buyer by having a strict health regimen that you can document," says Moore.
Moore, with his wife Mary, started Cattleman's Choice five years ago with 700 head of cattle. The Certified Angus Beef-licensed feedyard now feeds 18,000 to 20,000 head per year. About 60 percent of Moore's clients retain ownership of their cattle throughout the finishing process.
Changing vaccination programs on a yearly basis used to be fairly routine for Moore until two-and-a-half years ago. He thought switching products would help cover emerging problems.
That was until he consulted his veterinarian, Kyle Taylor, DVM, of Tri-State Veterinary Hospital in Woodward, Okla. Moore chose Taylor as his consulting veterinarian because he understands the rapidly changing technology surrounding the cattle feeding industry.
"Dr. Taylor is a leading young veterinarian that stays current with the latest health information and scientific technology," says Moore.
Taylor's first step in implementing a custom health program was to determine what pathogens were causing problems in Moore's feedyard. Necropsies were performed and samples were sent to a diagnostic laboratory. After the pathogens were identified, Taylor chose to use Arsenal 4.1, a modified-live vaccine, along with a custom, autogenous vaccine developed by Novartis to attack specific bacteria found in the feedyard. These vaccines are given upon arrival.
"Because bovine respiratory disease, such as BVD, is the primary viral problem in this area, I decided to use a new vaccine based on the most prevalent type of BVD, that being non-cytopathic BVD, and that wouldn't set back the cattle," Taylor says. "BVD sets up shop for other secondary pathogens, and I want the cattle to be under the least stress and viral challenge possible."
Taylor also set up a protocol to use if a sick animal is found. "We get cattle out of the hospital pen faster, because Moore and his cowboys are willing to follow a specific treatment regimen and health program," Taylor explains. "Without their dedication, it wouldn't work."
In addition to a solid health plan for cattle arriving from the sale barn, Moore and Taylor help producers that retain ownership to develop their own health plan.
Moore adds: "This helps keep cattle healthy through the stressful time after arriving at the feedyard. They live up to their genetic potential because they are not sick. All of their energy goes into putting on weight."
Communication about implementing a targeted health plan with his clients is one way Moore differentiates himself from other feedyards. He also offers source-verified record keeping. According to Moore, this information helps producers better monitor their herd health. It also helps them determine what cows to keep and what genetics to select for in the next breeding season.
Keeping the same level of health efficiency is now Moore's goal. "Since starting this health program, I've seen a 75-percent reduction in death loss in cattle we get from the sale barn," he notes.
Individual attention to producers and their cattle, along with a strong health program, are the keys to Moore's success. One of his producers recently won the steer division of the 2004 National Angus Carcass Challenge, while another won the steer division of the 2004 Red Angus Grid Master award. Competing in these contests with his clients pushes him to work harder on providing individual results and gives him a way to track his progress and success.
"Dale always looks for the advantage. He makes it a personal challenge to provide the best service to his clients," says Taylor.
Dale and Mary Moore, owners/managers of Cattleman's Choice Feedyard in Gage, Okla., add value to their feedyard by providing individualized attention to their clients, along with utilizing a custom health program.