Health Considerations When Commingling Stocker Cattle

Freshly weaned calves are already fighting a compromised immune system. Combine that with shipping them on a semi for several hours and commingling them with other groups of calves you’ve purchased elsewhere, and their health system is compromised even further. However, you can implement these best management practices to make sure your stocker calves stay healthy, eating and growing this fall and winter.

Start with vaccinations. Make sure all calves have a current vaccination program in place. Once they are off the truck and in your pens, be sure to vaccinate the cattle to help fight respiratory and digestive challenges.

Provide adequate water. Be sure that adequate clean, fresh-flowing water is available. The calves might not readily drink in a new place, but once their thirst hits, they are going to want that water source immediately.

Offer proper supplementation. Although the calves are probably used to grazing the lush grasses of summer with their momma’s, the fall forages don’t necessarily offer those same nutrients needed for your calves to grow and perform. That is how the Gain Smart® Program can help.

The Gain Smart Program is built around the Amaferm® advantage. Amaferm is a natural prebiotic designed to maximize the nutritional value of feed. Amaferm®️ is a prebiotic designed to enhance digestibility by amplifying the nutrient supply for maximum performance. It is research-proven to increase intake, digestion and absorption.

The initial step in the Gain Smart Program happens on the first day the calf is received. Use the Vita Charge® Cattle Drench on that day one to help make sure calves want to eat and drink readily.

Next, introduce the Vita Charge Stress Tub to the calves for 2-3 weeks after they are first received. The tub will promote feed and water intake, increase digestibility to maximize the energy value of the feed for more gains, and contains MOS, which helps trap and expel bad bacteria, limiting their ability to harm the animals.

The Vita Charge Stress Tub provides 24-hour access to a supplement that includes Amaferm, trace minerals and vitamins that are conducive to helping the cattle recover from stress of transportation and being introduced to other calves.

The final step in the Gain Smart Program is the introduction of one of the mineral options available. The mineral can be introduced to the calves immediately. It works hand-in-hand with the Stress Tub that can be removed once the calves have a healthy eating routine established.

There are three mineral options: Gain Smart Stocker, Gain Smart Wheat and Gain Smart Balancer RU 1600. All three minerals are designed to balance basic nutrient needs for maximum efficiency. Gain Smart Stocker is designed for those who are feeding a medium to high forage diet, and works well for both cool- and warm-season grasses. It is the most versatile of the three, and can be fed in multiple places under multiple conditions.

Gain Smart Wheat is formulated for a higher-quality forage diet rich in protein and nitrogen such as wheat, small grains, corn silage and legumes. It includes extra magnesium to help balance the nutrients in the diets, and should be fed in spring and early summer.

Gain Smart Balancer RU 1600 is designed for those calves that are being backgrounded or fed in a dry lot situation and fed a mixed grain ration. The Balancer compliments the co-products like distiller’s grain and cereal by products and higher grain rations. Unlike the first two minerals it contains no phosphorus, but does have Rumensin in it. The Gain Smart Balancer RU 1600 can be fed to heavier weights, and if you want to feed to heavier weights, it is a good selection when trying to improve feed efficiency.

Research has shown that including Amaferm in the diets is advantageous to both growing and finishing calves. During an 84-day growing period, one study showed that Amaferm increased feed efficiency by 6%.  In a finishing trial, feeding Amaferm resulted in 7.2% increase in gain:feed.

As with any program, stockers should consult with their veterinarian and nutritionist to make sure their calves are on the best protocol to grow and add value. A Gain Smart supplement in their diets will help build immunity, keep calves healthy and keep them growing.  If you have questions about which Gain Smart mineral is right for your calves, visit with your Area Sales Manager, who can be found by going to our dealer locator at, and entering your zip code.

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