Nov 04, 2019

As we struggle with weaning this year, and basically everything else, it bears reminding that an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. That is true on a variety of fronts this year.

With weaning calves, and harvest appearing that it will lag on for a while, having the right feed in front of the calves to optimize health will have a lot of value. The new RX3 Immune Support Technology will help your calves be as healthy as possible through weaning and stress. This year especially, calves may be prone to ‘corn harvest disease’ caused by trying to get crops harvested after calves are weaned. We don’t get the calves checked as often as we should because of the push to get harvest completed. That means that by the time we identify the calves as sick, they are already significantly impacted by disease. If we could prevent that, it would be worth it.

The RX3 program is being incorporated into all of the pelleted Stress Care starter products. It is designed to help the calves RECOGNIZE the immune challenge present, RESPOND quickly and appropriately to the disease, and RECOVER from it faster. Calves are able to recognize the disease sooner, which in the course of disease development is critical. If calves can respond earlier to a challenge, they are more likely to get over it and have their immune system be able to function well enough to address the challenge. If they can respond and address the challenge, the calves can recover quicker and get back to gaining. 

In research conducted on the product, a group of calves were challenged with live virus and bacteria to cause Bovine Respiratory Disease. The result was that the calves receiving the RX3 program showed sickness sooner, but also got over the challenge significantly earlier and so they were ‘over the hump’ sooner and back to eating and gaining.

The RX3 product is a combination of prebiotics, probiotics, and plant extracts. The prebiotics are designed to feed and stimulate the good bacteria in the rumen and small intestine. The probiotics are live bacteria designed to populate the rumen and small intestine with the most desirable and beneficial bacteria. The plant extracts help modify rumen fermentation to help the calves get more energy out of the feed they are consuming and help reduce inflammation in the gut.

The Availa-4 trace minerals that you are accustomed to in the Stress Care products are still there. They are an integral part of immune function. Getting these calves supplied with adequate trace mineral is vitally important as we can get them repleted in 3-4 weeks and ready to go for the remainder of the feeding period. 

We still recommend the stress tubs at one per 40 head of calves in the weaning pen. With these placed along the fence and near the water source, the calves that are bawling will run into those and lick a while. The calves get some high quality nutrition along with the fact that their appetite is stimulated by the saliva production. When the tubs are gone, there is no need to replace the tubs.

As always, water is a driving factor for intake on starting calves. Calves that don’t drink, don’t eat. And calves that don’t eat, get sick. Recommendations are for a minimum of 1” of linear drinking space per calf. If you have 100 head of calves in a pen, you should have 100” (over 8 feet) of drinking space. Water intake is positively correlated to feed intake. If calves don’t have adequate access to water, increasing water space can help you pick up intake and gain. A good quality water source is imperative to getting calves off to a good start.

Managing the bunks during the starting phase can be challenging to say the least. Be disciplined so you don’t
overfeed the calves and set them back on intakes and on health. Try not to increase the cattle more than about 2 lbs of dry matter per calf every 2 days. It will likely be close to 3 lbs as-is. So increase that amount and make them clean it up for 2-3 days. Many calves that know how to eat and are hungry will be ready for more feed. Some hard starting calves will not go to feed as quickly. Calves typically hit their peak intake around 3% of their bodyweight on a dry matter basis. As you near that mark, reduce your feed delivery increases. Keeping the calves coming to the bunk will help keep them healthy too.

Everyone is looking to tighten their belts. Cutting your mineral program and cutting the ionophore will not do
you any favors at this point. It might cut your out-of-pocket cost, but the result is increased cost for every pound of gain and for every day you feed them. Robbi Pritchard did an analysis that showed a 10% increase in your supplement cost has such a minimal impact on your profitability that 10% increase in yardage makes a bigger difference in profitability at the end of the feeding period. Covering your silage pile, managing your bunks, implanting appropriately, following a health protocol, providing calves a place to rest and spending the time and money to get calves off to a good start are the best ways to get a good return on your money and your time. We know this has been a tough year. Let us help you get through this feeding season as best as you can.

What do you need to be thinking about this time of year?
  • - Order your Stress Care for weaning- planning ahead will help ensure you have it when you need it!
  • - Talk to your vet about getting a VFD if you want to use Aureomycin at weaning time
  • - Implant calves during backgrounding to get the best gain and efficiency
  • - Get 30-13 tubs for grazing corn stalk residue
  • - Remember to HEAT TAPE lines on liquid systems- this keeps the line fluid. C&R Supply has videos on how to maintain the
  • - John Blue pumps at
  • - Get your forages tested for quality and have your Feed Consultant set up starting/growing rations
  • - Inventory your projected feed resources and project your winter feed needs so you can plan accordingly

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