Support the health of incoming calves this fall

Published on Mon, 08/27/2018 - 2:00pm

 Dr. Aimee Hafla1, Dr. David Jones1, Collin Swanton2
 1Agri-King, Inc., Fulton, IL, 2Northeast High School, Goose Lake, IA
Strategic nutritional support during weaning and receiving can go a long way to bolster immunity and improve performance during one of the most stressful times in a calf’s life. Poor trace mineral status is associated with depressed immunity upon arrival to the feed yard and receiving diets are commonly fortified with extra trace minerals. However, supplementation with additional micronutrients, enzymes, and probiotic products can provide further health benefits to newly-weaned and incoming beef cattle.
Go beyond your traditional trace mineral program: Chromium is a micro-mineral key to the metabolism of glucose for energy. Research conducted in receiving cattle has found that supplementation with chromium results in a greater efficiency of glucose utilization and altered fat and protein metabolism1. These physiological results are important for health outcomes when calves are in stressful situations, because mounting an immune response is an energetically expensive process. Incoming cattle receiving supplemental chromium have been found to have a lower incidence of respiratory issues (BRD)2,3 and increased short term weight gain. Look for a stress-specific trace mineral product, like Beef Jump Start®, that includes chromium at research supported levels to support the immune system and boost performance of newly weaned and incoming calves.
Enhance nutrient digestibility: Following weaning, transportation, commingling and arrival at the feed yard, feed intake of calves is commonly depressed. Furthermore, the disruption in rumen fermentation after short periods of feed and water deprivation can take up to five days to return to normal4. At this time, intake of digestible nutrients is imperative to the function of the immune system and prevention of diseases. Feed enzymes, like those found in Beef Jump Start®, can increase the digestibility of receiving diets to allow for additional energy intake.
Cultivate gut health: Stress, pathogens, digestive upset, and the use of antibiotics can upset the balance of commensal bacteria, negatively impacting digestion and allowing opportunistic pathogens to invade and reproduce. Probiotic organisms, prebiotic nutrients, and yeast cell wall fractions are known modulators of the intestinal microbiota and immune system. Research has found disease-challenged and receiving beef calves supplemented with probiotic products demonstrate reduced numbers of treatment pulls and increased feed intake, when compared with calves receiving no probiotic5,6. Probiotic and prebiotic nutrients, like those found in Beef Jump Start®, cultivate a healthy rumen and intestinal environment, increase feed intakes, and may serve to improve overall animal health and performance when animals are under stress.
Healthy cattle demonstrate maximum health, productivity, and feed efficiency. Isn’t it time to get proactive about the health and performance of your cattle? For more information about Beef Jump Start®, contact your local Agri-King area manager or visit our website at
1Bernhard, B.C., N.C. Burdick, R.J. Rathmann, J.A. Carroll, D.N. Finck, M.A. Jennings, T.R. Young, and B.J. Johnson. 2012. Chromium supplementation alters both glucose and lipid metabolism in feedlot cattle during the receiving period. J. Anim. Sci. 90:4857-4865.
2Bernhard, B.C., N.C. Burdick, W. Rounds, R.J. Rathmann, J.A. Carroll, D.N. Finck, M.A. Jennings, T.R. Young and B.J. Johnson. 2012. Chromium supplementation alters the performance and health of feedlot cattle during the receiving period and enhances their metabolic response to a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge. J. Anim. Sci. 90:3879-3888.
3Mowat, D.N., X. Chang, and W.Z. Yang. 1993. Chelated chromium for stressed feeder calves. Canadian J. Anim. Sci,. 73:49-55
4Cole N.A., D.P. Hutcheson. 1981. Influence on beef steers of two sequential short periods of feed and water deprivation. J. Anim. Sci. 53:907-915.
5Ponce, C.H., J.S. Schutz, C.C. Eltrod, U.Y. Anele, and M.L. Galyean. 2012. Effects of dietary supplementation of a yeast product of performance and morbidity of newly received beef heifers. Prof. Anim. Sci. 28:618-622.
6Duff, G.C., and M.L. Galyean. 2007. Board-invited review: Recent advances in management of highly stressed, newly received feedlot cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 85:823-840.