A high-quality, healthy calf crop doesn’t just happen. It takes well-planned matings, caring for gestating and lactating cows with proper nutrition and management, and a low-stressed, healthy weaned group of calves. Producers know that perhaps the most challenging aspect of that equation is reducing the stress during weaning time, but one progressive seedstock operation in Central Illinois has found a product that helps lower the stress and keeps their calves eating and healthy during the most stressful period of their life.
Tree Lane Farms is a multi-generation cow-calf operation owned by the Dale Schlipf family at El Paso, Ill., and runs approximately 250 cows. The family engages extensively in embryo transfer to produce elite breeding stock and show prospects that they market through online sales both in the fall and spring. Bodee Schlipf, Dales’ grandson, is the third generation, actively working on the farm to raise and market the cattle with the TLF brand.
Bodee said they discovered and started using the Vita Charge® Stress Tubs at weaning time about five years ago, and they have never looked back. They use the tubs in their creep feed pens through the summer and will continue to offer them to the sale cattle through the fall.
“The Stress Tubs seem to keep them rolling on feed and help them maintain their bloom. They don’t miss too many days. The tub is a big tool at weaning and helps reduce the stress of calves as we pull them away from their mom. They seem to be healthier and happier as we go about that process,” Bodee says.
This summer, a new product Vita Charge Stress Tub HEAT® was introduced. Both Stress Tubs contain Amaferm®, a precision-based prebiotic that impacts intake, feed digestibility and nutrient absorption to help combat stress and support the animal’s own immune system, and MOS to trap and expel pathogens, limiting their ability to do harm. The Stress Tub HEAT also contains plant extracts designed to help regulate the body’s core temperature any time the temperature is hotter than 70 degrees, therefore helping reduce heat stress. The HEAT also contains garlic, a natural insect repellant.
Tree Lane Farms has converted exclusively to the Vita Charge Stress Tub HEAT since its launch earlier this summer. Bodee has noticed that the calves seem cooler, get out of the shade and eat more often, and don’t hunker down near as much. They are at the creep feeder more and eating more.
“We find the investment [in the Stress Tubs] justifiable, because if calves aren’t on feed and they aren’t performing at a high level for an operation like ours, they can quickly be sorted to the cull or feeder calf pen. At the end of the day, there’s a big profit deficit there compared to us being able to sell them as seedstock or a show calf project to someone else. We feel like it is well-worth the investment to aid us to getting to that point,” Bodee said.
In addition to keeping the calves performing, Bodee feels like their health problems have diminished since they are less stressed and staying on feed. He said the tubs help the calves keep their bloom as well as promote hair quality and growth.
“After our sales, we recommend to customers to keep the calves on the Stress Tubs to help with transition. And when they do, we haven’t had many challenges when customers take them home,” Bodee said.
A low-stressed, high-performing calf crop is worth a lot when it brings in the pay checks for a multi-generation family during a few sales each year. One progressive cattle producer has found that an investment in a Vita Charge Stress Tub that provides the Amaferm advantage is an investment he won’t do without.