Cut Retreat Costs Without Cutting Corners

Cattle producers looking to increase their margin always have an eye on reducing expenses. A line item that always stings is retreatment costs for respiratory disease. 
“It can be frustrating to think that your first line of treatment didn’t solve the problem,” notes H. Nielsen, DVM, Technical Service – Ruminant, Lallemand Animal Nutrition. “In addition to the treatment expense, producers know calves that don’t improve quickly may experience reduced average daily gain compared to their peers.”
Potential profits quickly erode when producers combine treatment costs with lowered productivity. Supporting improved health overall can help avoid illness and get calves back to peak health. 
A sound vaccination program, good management practices and adequate nutrition are all critical for powering the immune system. Yet, the average pull rate in feedlot cattle has remained around 30 percent for years even with advances in vaccines and antibiotics to tackle both viral and bacterial causes of the bovine respiratory disease complex (BRDC). 
Probiotics are a relatively recent addition the arsenal against BRDC, which many producers are now including into the ration. 
“The animal’s gut doesn’t just do the work of digesting nutrients — it can also activate the immune system,” Dr. Nielsen explains. “Specific probiotics are proven to stimulate microflora in the gut and modulate the immune response.”
This response has been proven in trials. For example, beef cattle fed the probiotic Saccharomyces cerevisiae boulardii CNCM I-1079, or ProTernative®, showed increased average daily gain (ADG), final body weight, improved feed uptake and feed-to-gain ratios.1
A more robust initial immune response can help lower expenses through reduced incidence of illness and lower retreats for animals that do get sick. In the same study, cattle fed S. c. boulardii CNCM I-1079 had 39 percent fewer re-treatments for BRDC compared to controls. 1
“BRDC is so prevalent and expensive that producers must use every tool available to fight losses,” Dr. Nielsen says. “We must look to new ways of lowering the expense from retreats without sacrificing the quality of our core prevention strategies.”
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