When it comes to the health and nutrition of his herd, one cattleman realizes the value of a high-quality vitamin and mineral program. For Brett Carter, Stratford, Okla., the VitaFerm® line of supplements works in his herd from conception until calves are sold, making sure that his entire herd has the same opportunities for increased intake and absorption while staying healthier.
“As soon as I can get them to put feed in their mouth, there is VitaFerm Sure Start® available to them,” Carter said, “They basically get Amaferm from conception on – whether it’s in utero when the cows are eating Concept•Aid® mineral or in their creep feed. Once they are weaned, our developer ration has both Sure Start and Digest More® in it.”
The VitaFerm Sure Start pellet is a highly palatable supplement for beef cattle formulated with a high concentration of vitamins and minerals to alleviate the negative effects of stress. It encourages calves to come to the bunk sooner and continue performing until stress is minimized. Sure Start contains a double dose of Amaferm®, a natural prebiotic designed to maximize the nutritional value of feed by increasing intake, digestibility and absorption.
Amaferm Digest More is a pelleted form of Amaferm that can mixed in a ration for increased support of digestive health and performance.
Carter said he’s been offering creep feed to his calves at 30 to 45-days old for several years. He’s seen good results with the Amaferm advantage and the VitaFerm line of products including increased consumption and health and having to treat fewer sick calves during the most stressful period of their lives – weaning. Prior to the introduction of the Sure Start pellets, he added Sure Champ® pellets to his creep feed and developer rations.
All of Carter’s creep feed, developer and growing rations are commodity based. He said he feels like the VitaFerm vitamin and mineral packages offer the best options to him as anything he has the option to use to keep his cattle healthy and gaining.
Not only does creep feeding help with his calves’ ability to grow and perform, it helps eliminate some of the stress of the lactating mother cow as the calves grow older and demand more nutrients. By supplementing the calves, the cows are in more ideal body condition at breeding, and able to breed back quicker. Carter said that creep feeding does impact his bottom dollar. When those cows aren’t working as hard to produce milk or their milk is decreasing as the months go by, creep feed not only pays in the calf, but it pays in the cow and her condition.
“As long as they are here, they are eating VitaFerm. Our breed-backs are important. Spring born calves need to be ready to be sold by the second or third week of October, and in order to do that, we are pushing the cattle hard. We are asking a lot of performance from them. We give them every opportunity we can to be ready for that sale in October,” he said.
“For us, it never is a question of if we are going to put out creep feed, it’s just how early we are going to put it out. The more cows that breed back in a shorter window, the larger set of bigger calves we have to pick through for that October sale. It’s important to us to take care of those cows from a vitamin and mineral standpoint and give them every opportunity to breed back in a short window.”
Carter said he likes to have 80% of his cows covered by AI or ET in the first cycle and he depends on VitaFerm to help achieve those goals. He notes that the neighbors have the same environment with the same grasses, but he typically has more calves on the ground in a shorter time, and he credits that to his mineral program.
“There’s options out there. But from start to finish, when I can start a 45-day old calf on a mineral program that is the exact same quality as I can keep them on for the duration of their life, I don’t want to bounce around on products. I’d just rather stick with one. That’s important to me. I can go to my local feed mill and get everything I need – made by one company in one spot and cover everything from a 45-day-old calf to a high-profile donor that is 10-years-old,” Carter said.