The sale barn is a great way for producers to discover the value of their calves, yet it can have a negative connotation when talking about animal health. The trip to and from as well as the sights, sounds and smells of the sale barn put stress on the animals, resulting in challenges to the immune system. However, cattlemen can give their animals a helping hand by providing them with proper nutrition to support immune function and gut health.
First order of business when new calves or stockers arrive on farm are the vaccinations. However, these cattle are stressed to the hilt and that decreases the ability of the immune system to respond to the vaccine and in turn its effectiveness. Additionally, they could be trace mineral deficient, which also hinders immune function. Rather than working cattle off the truck, consider giving them a few days to adjust to the newness of your operation. Feed bunks, silage, water tanks and a confined yard are all foreign, but a low moisture block supplement with its striking odor and the high palatability of molasses, has been shown to stop calves from wandering the pens and get them started licking, drinking and eating, more quickly.
The Right Stuff
Stressed cattle have elevated nutritional requirements and decreased appetite. A double whammy when all you want is for them to eat, grow, and not get sick. Providing a supplement, when you are already feeding a total mixed ration (TMR) may seem redundant, but the TMR doesn’t do any good if the calves aren’t eating it.
Having the right supplement in the pen can be a life-saver for those calves who are more timid, a little younger and/or more susceptible to disease. Here are some things to look for on the label.
- Why salt? It’s the one mineral that all animals crave. Salt is a great intake driver for calves, they will seek it out. Also, after a little salt, who doesn’t want a little water?
- Molasses. This might make you wonder too, however, young animals are attracted to sweet things. High molasses content will also attract calves to the supplement and encourage consumption.
- Chelated trace minerals. A source of chelated trace minerals is important for stressed calves. Stress levels throw the entire system out of whack. Offering a supplement with chelated trace minerals gives the calves a more bioavailable source of essential nutrients, that are also more readily stored and utilized by the body.
- Gut Health. Co-mingled cattle are going to pick something up. When you consider all the intestinal tract does; the front line against pathogens, has an active role in the endocrine system and the site of nutrient absorption; you can’t ignore it. Self-fed supplements formulated for stress and weaning situations are designed for gut health with the ability to enhance health status at weaning and receiving as well as aid in nutrient absorption and utilization.
CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements offers a wide range of self-fed supplements to match and supplement a variety of forage qualities, feeding programs and to meet the nutrient demands of stressed calves. CRYSTALYX® stress and weaning products are fortified with electrolytes and high levels of vitamins and trace minerals to help overcome nutritional stress associated with weaning, shipping, and rapid growth rates.