Longevity. It seems like a term that doesn’t get used much anymore. Many things in the marketplace are “single-use” items, and products just aren’t made like they used to be. However, for one couple in the cattle business in southeast Louisiana, longevity is a trait that they have become accustomed to.
Arnold and Missy Hess, Morganza, Louisiana, own approximately 450 head of cows. They put an emphasis on carcass quality, while understanding the need to have cattle that will adapt to their environment, so they use a combination of breeds including Brangus, Brahman, Braford and Angus to get their F1 and Ultrablack animals that excel in gains and carcass traits.
However, they know that genetic composition alone won’t grow high-performing cattle, so they are committed to a high-quality nutrition program that has helped both their cow herd and their calves succeed. Arnold said they started feeding the VitaFerm® mineral more than 40 years ago, about the same time he became one of the first dealers for the animal nutrition company based in Saint Joseph, Missouri.
“Our cows have good conception rates every year, and we rarely cull due to reproductive soundness, but rather because of age of cows. We still have several cows in good shape and calving that are 15-plus years-old,” Missy said.
Along with their geographic location, comes the nuisances of heat, humidity and insects. At Hess Ranch, they also rely on a mineral program to help control insects while combatting heat stress. They are long-time users of VitaFerm Concept•Aid 5/S IGR, to prevent the breeding of horn flies in the manure of treated cattle. The last few years, they have used the VitaFerm HEAT® IGR mineral on some of their black-hided calves. They have noticed that those calves are out grazing more often during the day, and not laying under the shade tree all day long. Those cattle are eating more, gaining more and looking better.
“You can see a noticeable difference in those calves that are on the HEAT IGR mineral. They slick off better and just look healthier,” said Missy.
She recalls a time last summer when one of her good friends who does not have a background in cattle was visiting the ranch and riding in the ATV with Missy to check on cattle. Her friend commented on how black and shiny the calves were and wanted to know why they looked that way when others she’d seen didn’t have the same appearance. Missy explained that was the mineral working.
Missy and Arnold don’t rely on mineral alone. They use multiple fly and parasite controls, as recommended, including fly tags, pour-on delice, vaccinate with long-range and feed HEAT IGR mineral. They do notice that even though flies do hover above their cattle, they don’t land on and bite them.
In addition to keeping their cattle bred and healthy and free of flies, the mineral program helps their calves grow. They contract weaned calves through the Big Blue Sale Barn in Fremont, Nebraska, and their pay weight on their last loads of heifers and steers exceeded the contracted weight. Calves stay healthy and perform, thanks to their management, a combination of herd health and nutrition.
All VitaFerm contain Amaferm®, a precision prebiotic designed to impact intake, digestion and absorption for optimum health and performance. It is research-proven to increase the energy available to the animal resulting in more milk production as well as to the ability to initiate and maintain pregnancy and fertility. Concept•Aid is a breeding mineral that contains high levels of vitamin E and selenium to promote optimized fertility. HEAT is a unique blend of clove, cinnamon and chili pepper to help maintain circulation to support animal performance in both heat and fescue situations. HEAT also contains capsaicin, research-proven to lower body temperature, which can improve conception rates by maintaining pregnancy. HEAT also helps maintain circulation to support animal performance in both heat and fescue situations. And it includes garlic, to deter insects. IGR prevents the breeding of horn flies in the manure of treated cattle; however, it is only licensed for availability in particular states.
A commitment to a nutrition program has proved to enhance longevity in the herd. It’s led to longevity in the relationships Arnold and Missy Hess have formed with their VitaFerm customers and it’s proved that some things are still built to last.