For an animal nutrition company that encompasses the core principles of outreach and innovation, it makes sense to partner with land grant universities that have purebred cattle herds that serve as a learning resource for students. Partnerships with the Kansas State University and Oklahoma State University purebred beef units allow for the university herds to get the best nutrition possible, while students are learning to be the beef producers of the future.
Sure Champ® is often the nutrition line young people first become acquainted with when it comes to the BioZyme® products. Sure Champ is a line of vitamin and mineral products that keep animals eating and drinking while they #preptowin in the show ring. It was the brand Shane Werk, K-State’s purebred beef unit manager, first became aware of during his time as a member of the National Junior Hereford Association and past chairman of the National Junior Hereford Board. Today, Werk feeds VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® to the more than 200 Angus, Hereford and Simmental cows with the Flying K brand at Manhattan, Kansas.
“I am a definite believer in VitaFerm Concept•Aid, and I think it’s pretty well known amongst customers too but, BioZyme’s commitment to youth, and of course college kids are at the end of their ‘youth’ but I could still qualify that. All of the support through junior programs and junior breed associations is pretty extensive for BioZyme, and I think that’s a great thing, So I think there’s a ton of good beyond just the quality of the product. We’ve had purebred cattle a long time and are trying to continually improve here and get them better and get kids involved in and learn something along the way,” Werk said.
K-State has been in the seedstock business since the 1880s. They recently hosted their 44th bull sale, and they have been feeding VitaFerm Concept•Aid just shy of three years. Werk said the reputation of the mineral, the partnership BioZyme has with the University and the benefits they have experienced are what led them to supplementing their herd with the mineral. Since he arrived at K-State as the Purebred Unit Manager, the unit has engaged in an extensive embryo transfer program, and it has always used a lot of A.I. to advance the genetic merit of its herd. With the reproductive health of the cow herd in mind, using a mineral that helps increase conception rates and keeps their herd healthy is important.
VitaFerm Concept•Aid contains high levels of vitamin E for tract repair, 2.5X NRC for quicker impact, and organic trace minerals for improved bioavailability. Nearly all BioZyme products contain Amaferm®, a precision prebiotic that impacts intake, feed digestibility and nutrient absorption for optimum health and performance.
Werk noticed an overall increase in conception rates the first year he switched to the VitaFerm products. He also continues to see an increase in his embryo pregnancies.
“We’ve seen gradual increases in terms of our embryo pregnancies. and I think that’s probably due to just being on the VitaFerm mineral and getting the full benefit of it longer,” he said.
K-State is on a year-round Concept•Aid program. However, last year it started feeding the VitaFerm Concept•Aid 5/S HEAT® in the summer months, to help mitigate heat stress on both their spring and fall calving herds. The HEAT package includes plant extracts to help prevent heat stress any time the temperatures reach 70 degrees or hotter or while grazing fescue. HEAT also contains garlic to deter insects.
Just about four hours south of Manhattan in Stillwater, Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State University purebred herd has been benefitting from the Amaferm advantage for more than a decade, according to Jeremy Leister, purebred unit manager. The OSU herd consists of 300 head of predominantly Angus with some Hereford, Simmental, Limousin and Brangus cows.
Leister agrees that the OSU herd has experienced increased conception rates from feeding the VitaFerm Concept•Aid. Though perhaps the biggest difference he’s witnessed at in the OSU herd was when he started to feed the HEAT package throughout the summer.
“I can tell it does keep their body temperature down because there will be hot summer days, especially in July and August, where they’ll come out between two and three o’clock in the afternoon, and be grazing, and they seem comfortable and content. That’s one of the benefits we can see pretty easily,” Leister said.
Another product he uses at OSU is Sure Champ Cattle pellets. As part of their excellence in teaching and marketing, they prepare seedstock to showcase annually, typically at the National Western Stock Show. This year they competed at the Cattlemen’s Congress. With a tradition of exhibiting pens of Angus heifers that have claimed the grand champion banner, three of the last four years, Leister credits Sure Champ for keeping their cattle looking their best while on the road.
“Sure Champ is an all-around good product. It helps keep their appetite up and actually helps keep their hair coat and their skin looking nice,” he said.
The purebred unit at OSU is student operated, outside of Leister, with 10 students employed there at any one time. Each student gains actual experience in working on a seedstock operation, learning the various facets from breeding, calving, weaning and daily herd care. In addition, another 30-40 students gain hands-on experience conducting the OSU production sale during a senior level seedstock management class each spring where both bulls and females are sold.
“When it is a nationally recognized company with a good product it’s pretty easy to have a partnership with those people. We like having a product that works for our students, the future ranchers, and even people in the business now. We get some notoriety that we’re using a product that is liked by a bunch of people and they identify with VitaFerm, so it is a well-rounded partnership from that standpoint,” Leister said.
From the show ring to the teaching units of long-time, highly regarded university herds like Kansas State and Oklahoma State, the Amaferm advantage never stops working. Universities are building future ranchers and producers, and those students in Stillwater and Manhattan are learning the benefits of getting cows bred and keeping them bred with VitaFerm Concept•Aid.