Backgrounding cattle health management using Bio-Mos 2
Calving is coming to an end, giving producers the ability to breathe and recover from, arguably, their most stressful time of year. However, for the calves they are raising, the most stressful period is yet to come. The weaning process is widely recognized to be one of the most stressful stages within the beef system.
As an industry, we are beginning to understand that prolonged periods of stress can negatively affect:
- Overall health
- Average daily gains
- Feed efficiency in beef cattle
These losses in growth efficiency in stocker cattle also lead to losses in overall profitability.
With the knowledge that stress negatively impacts animal health and performance, producers should start focusing on producing resilient calves that can handle the stress of weaning. Developing management practices that focus more on disease prevention is the key to building a healthy, resilient calf crop.
Effective preventative health management programs require producers to evaluate their individual production systems to determine what type of health challenges they need to manage and when these challenges will occur. The best place to start implementing preventative health measures is at the cow-calf operation. When it comes to having the most impact on lifetime animal health, cow-calf producers hold all the power.
As an industry, we must give great attention to preparing calves for dealing with upcoming stress. We work to minimize the duration and the degree of stress that animals experience during weaning, but these stressors are never going to fully disappear. The question then becomes: How can we manage herds so that they we are producing resilient calves that can handle the stress of weaning?
Managing animal health and production losses in beef calves that are stressed after weaning is a major concern for producers. The stress animals experience during these periods of transition does have consequences, like suppression of immune functions and decreased growth, both of which lead to overall losses in production. One major component of a preventive health management program should be developing a healthy gut prior to weaning.
Backgrounding cattle for about 30 days following weaning is an ideal way to minimize stress and straighten out heifer and steer calves before transitioning them to the feedlot. Backgrounding periods are usually forage-based systems that aim to increase body weight through frame growth and muscle development rather than establishing fat.
Backgrounding and stocker enterprises present an excellent opportunity to establish a healthy gut before feedlot receiving.
Overall gut health is predicated on several factors:
- Establishing a stable gut bacterial population
- Maintaining intestinal integrity
- Promoting healthy immune function
A heathy gut is essential for efficient nutrient absorption and immune function. Scours is one gut health issue that is normally seen during the weaning period. Scours is the result of an unhealthy, inflamed gut. The key to a healthy gut is establishing and maintaining a healthy gut microbial population so that the pathogenic bacteria don’t have the chance to overpopulate and cause inflammation.
Preventative health programs should include vaccination protocols developed with your veterinarian and the implementation of low-stress management practices. However, the use of nutritional technologies designed to support and promote gut health are often overlooked when developing health protocols.
Bio-Mos 2 is the second generation of Bio-Mos, an industry leader in calf health. Bio-Mos 2 is a mannan rich fraction (MRF) derived from the cell wall of a select strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast. This MRF is a complex branched-manna fraction that has been shown to promote a healthy gut microbial population and optimize growth through research conducted at Alltech’s nutrigenomics lab.
How to feed Bio-Mos 2
Bio-Mos 2 was designed to promote a healthy gut, especially during high-stress periods like weaning and feedlot transition. Bio-Mos 2 supplementation can easily meet the needs of a variety of management styles and can be incorporated into multiple feed types. Bio-Mos 2 can be used in pre-weaning creep feed formulations. Ideally, that creep feed would be fed prior to and through weaning to help reduce stress by familiarizing calves to a feed that will be available throughout weaning and minimizing their time off feed.
Bio-Mos 2 has also been added to low-moisture tub formulations and preconditioning supplements to help alleviate stress during backgrounding and in stocker operations. Feedlot receiving diets can also benefit from the addition of Bio-Mos 2.
Backed by science
A study done by the University of Florida looked at how Bio-Mos 2 supplementation affects animal performance during a 52-day precondition period following being weaned. Bio-Mos 2 supplementation was shown to improve average daily gain for cattle from 0.72 pounds per day for the control group to 1.05 pounds per day for the Bio-Mos 2-supplemented group. This improvement in ADG translated to a lower cost of gain with Bio-Mos 2 at $0.73 per pound compared to $1.29 per pound for the control calves.