In the spring of 2017, Melynda Gress of Y-Cross Inc., was looking for a supplement alternative for her backgrounding operation. Located in the northwest corner of South Dakota where she and her family run 800 to 1,000 yearlings each spring and summer, she knew she needed a more natural mineral option for her calves.
Two of the major challenges she has with grazing yearlings are foot rot and pinkeye, but with the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) that became effective Jan. 1, 2017, Gress was no longer able to offer medicated mineral to her calves. That is what led her to a conversation with local BioZyme® dealer, Jim Erk.
“I was normally feeding a medicated mineral to curb some of those challenges, and of course then the government came in and said, ‘you can’t do that’ so I was looking for an alternative and that is when Jim put me onto the VitaFerm® HEAT,” Gress recalls. “And I’ve had really good success. It didn’t totally stop the foot rot and pinkeye, but it kept it to manageable level where we might have to doctor 5 calves every three days instead of 20-30 of them.”
In addition to keeping her calves healthier, Gress also noticed a significant difference in their heat tolerance, growth and fly control when using the HEAT mineral.
“With the HEAT product, it was so nice because the yearlings – which are really tough to run because they tend to shade up, stand in water holes and are not really good about grazing – they were out grazing in the heat of the day, and the flies were not bothering them. Not a bit,” she said.
Gress said 2017 was a very challenging year for her stockers, that rely solely on the cool-season grasses and mineral. They were in a drought most of the summer, and yet her calves that she normally sells around 800-900 pounds each fall, weighed more than 925 pounds, thanks to the Amaferm® in the VitaFerm HEAT.
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. Therefore, in a drought year like Gress experienced last year, her yearlings received more nutrient value from less available forages, due to the Amaferm in the HEAT mineral.
This spring when Melynda stopped by Erk’s store for some lamb milk replacer, he started telling her about the newest HEAT product from BioZyme – one that would more ideally fit her situation: VitaFerm® Gain Smart® Stocker HEAT®. Gain Smart Stocker is a free-choice vitamin and mineral supplement for stocker cattle designed to balance basic nutrient needs for maximized efficient gain on grass pasture. The new product introduced this spring also contains HEAT to help prevent heat stress during temperatures of 70 degrees and above, or anytime cattle are grazing fescue.
Gain Smart Stocker HEAT includes key ingredients to meet a majority of Gress’ challenges. It has capsaicin to help maintain circulation to support animal performance and gain in the heat. Capsaicin is research-proven to support animals’ ability to maintain normal body temperature. It also includes garlic, to deter insects. And for her foot rot problems, this product contains organic copper and zinc plus added iodine for maximum bioavailability to the animal to support hoof health and immunity.
“They absolutely love it. I can’t keep enough of it in front of them. I have to cut it with some salt a little bit. Otherwise they eat it like candy, and they are still out grazing during the heat of the day,” Gress said.
The decision to use Gain Smart Stocker HEAT hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“Even my neighbor noticed. He was talking about his calves being bunched up and having to bring them in and spray them for the flies, and he noticed mine stayed out and were out grazing,” she said.
With her heifers weighing an additional 100 pounds at sale time last year after a summer of drought, Gress is very anxious to see how the Gain Smart Stocker and a good grass year treat her calves. She said their pastures are in good shape, the grass is still green and, in some areas, still belly-high.