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Journal photo by Jennifer Carrico.

Keeping a beef animal healthy is the most important part of raising cattle that can survive in all sectors of the industry.

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Doug Slattery, chief operations officer for 44 Farms

Doug Slattery, chief operations officer for 44 Farms in Cameron, Texas, said good gut health is the best way to keep cattle healthy. 44 Farms has a purebred and commercial Angus herd and produces beef in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Certified All-Natural program.

“Our biggest problem is keeping the animal healthy. We sell beef in an all-natural program and that means no antibiotics or by-products have been given to these animals,” Slattery said. “Having products that work toward good gut health is important. People want our natural product and we have to find feed additives that will work for our system.”

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Ed Creason, beef area sales manager for GENEX

Slattery was part of a panel with Ed Creason, beef area sales manager for GENEX and Jason Barber, purebred division manager for Superior Livestock Auction, at the Inaugural BioZyme media day in St. Joseph, Missouri, on May 31. The three companies are Partners in Performance with Biozyme and work with the company to stress to customers the importance of a good nutrition program. That includes a good mineral and gut health protocol.

Partners in Performance

The Partners in Performance program is more than just recommending protocols. It is also about educating the producers who buy 44 Farms’ bulls and then sell calves back to the farm on the importance of health, nutrition and handling.

“We’ve had quite a few instances where people have improved their management at all levels when they started working with us from the advice and tips we have given them,” Slattery said. “We have a lot of long-standing relationships with producers we buy calves from, and we are adding new ones all the time.”

Creason said nutrition and health keep an animal doing its best and maximizing performance at all stages of its life. This will also help maximize genetics. GENEX is part of Cooperative Resources International and is a trusted provider of world-class animal genetics, progressive reproductive solutions, value-added products and innovative services to their members and customers.

Creason said making sure cows have the proper nutrition will increase pregnancy rates. “Heifers need to reach 65 percent of the mature body weight by the time they are two years old and they need to maintain their body condition,” he said. “Open cows are too costly, so we have to figure out how to keep these cows at a body condition score of 5 to 6 to avoid these problems. That takes proper nutrition.” 

Value-added programs

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Jason Barber, purebred division manager for Superior Livestock Auction

Barber said value-added programs are popular among clients and customers of Superior Livestock. “These vaccination or nutrition programs help our producers sell cattle at a premium. Keeping cattle healthy before and after they are shipped after a sale helps with success,” Barber said. “These programs have to make sense for the buyer and the seller. We have seen the most growth in nutrition programs.”

Slattery said the natural evolution of nutrition has helped raise the bar in genetics. “There’s only so much we can do the old way and now we need to take the traditional way of feeding cattle to the next level,” he said.

Barber said Superior sells more cattle into value-added programs than ever before. Good nutrition and health programs help keep these cattle in the programs.

“The time is coming when we will see a bigger gap between discounts and premiums in the beef industry. Producers are realizing what they need to do to provide for the consumer,” Slattery said.

Slattery said once producers see there is a premium in giving a little more to their cowherd, they will buy into the program and the success feeds off itself. For 44 Farms, these programs also include humane handling procedures, proper vaccinations and no antibiotic or hormone use.

Consumer education

“Once a consumer gets a premium for their animals, they will make the necessary changes in management because they will want to keep that premium,” Slattery said.

44 Farms welcomes all types of groups to their farm in order to educate them about how they raise their animals. “People have no perception of birth, weaning, raising cattle or feedlots. It’s a mammoth job to educate the millennials. Those of us in agriculture cannot make assumptions that they know what we are doing and we need to reiterate how safe our food system is,” Slattery said.

Barber agreed and said consumers want to know where their food is coming from with traceability being top of mind. Producers see the value in premiums. Animals go the highest claim of premium.

“Biozyme products help produce healthier calves. We want them healthy when they are weaned and delivered to buyers. And the buyers find value in gaining the information on nutrition,” Barber said.

Slattery said at times they have to convince other cattle producers to get out of their comfort zone and use products that can improve health to help get them a premium.

“We have to give cattle every chance to be healthy and maximize their genetic potential,” Barber added.

“If the return on investment is higher, cattle producers can utilize having a little higher cost for feed,” Creason said.

Jennifer Carrico can be reached at 515-833-2120 or jcarrico@hpj.com.

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