Dave Wood, Animix – Supplements for Pasteurized Milk & Milk Replacers: Choose Wi$ely

Posted on July 2, 2014 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
Click to download the PowerPoint presentation

Article written by Peggy Coffeen, Progressive Dairyman
When it comes to caring for calves, the options are endless for ingredients and additives that promise to promote health or increase gains, which is why David Wood, Animix, tells dairy producers to choose wisely.

When evaluating calf supplements, Wood suggests keeping three criteria in mind:

  • Return on investment (ROI) – Evaluate the cost of the supplement and its potential return.
  • Proof – Look for verification of the product’s results, particularly from a third party. This may include peer-reviewed research studies as well as recommendations from other producers.
  • Ease of use – Consider the practical application of the supplement. Is it injected? Mixed through milk or feed? Is your system designed for the extra labor or steps required for administration?

During his Vita Plus Calf Summit presentation, Wood outlined five categories of supplements according to these criteria.

Functional proteins (blood-derived plasma)
Cost: Milk replacer powders containing plasma often cost $1 to $2 less per bag. An estimated 40 percent of milk replacers manufactured in North America contain plasma, with heaviest use in the Western dairy states.

Proof: More than 30 total plasma studies have been performed. Overall, findings tend to show less scours, less mortality and better gains.

Ease of use: Available in milk replacer.

Neomycin and coccidiostats
Cost: For a 100-pound calf, feeding 1,000 mg neomycin and 1,000 mg oxytetracycline for seven to 14 days costs $1.96 to $3.92. Feeding a coccidiostat like Deccox® costs an additional $1.79 per bag of milk replacer or 6 cents per day as an additive, while Bovatec® adds only 27 cents to the cost of a bag of milk replacer.

Proof: Most research shows neomycin combined with oxytetracycline improved average daily gains and decreased scours. Deccox and Bovatec have been shown to decrease scours and reduce shedding of coccidiosis.

Ease of use: Available in milk replacer or fed as an additive.

Vitamin and trace mineral supplements
Cost: The cost of a Vita Plus Calf Milk Supplement is about $1.68 per calf for a routine 56-day milk feeding period.

Proof: According to NRC data, milk fails to provide adequate levels of many essential vitamins and trace minerals, particularly iron, selenium and Vitamins E, D, B1, B3, B6, B9 and B12.

Ease of use: Often available in packets that can be added to milk.

Mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS)
Cost: Depending on rate of use, 54 cents to $1.08 per 50-pound bag of milk replacer.

Proof: Published research shows less scours, a tendency to increase starter intake and gain, and the potential for less respiratory disease.

Ease of use: Available in milk replacer.

Direct-fed microbials (probiotics)
Cost: Cost varies, but they need not be excessively expensive.

Proof: A handful of recent studies show improved gain and feed intake and lower mortality.

Click to access Calf Summit 2014 proceedings

Category: Calf and heifer nutrition
Starting Strong - Calf Care