The FDA has granted approval for feeding Optaflexx (ractopamine hydrochloride) to beef cattle as a topdress to increase live weight gain and improve feed efficiency during the final 28 days to 42 days of the finishing period, while maintaining beef's natural taste, tenderness and juiciness. As a result, cattle feeders of any size may now feed Optaflexx as a topdress or in a complete feed to increase live weight gain and improve feed efficiency by helping cattle better utilize nutrients.
"Cattle feeders are always looking for ways to improve performance during the final days on feed since cattle naturally slow down their growth rate and become less efficient," says Travis Choat, PhD, director of beef technical consulting for Elanco. "With this new approval, feedyard managers have more flexibility in determining which of their pens of cattle would benefit from Optaflexx topdress."
FlexxTM feeding with Optaflexx
That flexibility is the cornerstone of Elanco's introduction of Flexx Feeding ─ a focus on the many ways feeding Optaflexx can fit into real-world management practices.
For example, feedyards can feed the topdress just once a day to provide an approved dose of Optaflexx ranging from 70 mg/head/day to 400 mg/head/day in a minimum of 1 lb/head/day Type C medicated feed (90 percent dry matter, maximum 800 g/ton ractopamine).* This allows managers to target pens of cattle with unique needs ─ such as pens with Holstein steers or low-consuming cattle. At the same time, feedyard managers can see savings when feeding Optaflexx just once a day, like mixing fewer partial batches of feed, reduced extra labor costs and lower feed-manufacturing costs.
Since Optaflexx has a zero-day withdrawal when fed according to the label, feedyard managers can react quickly to changing market conditions.
Beyond the increased rate of weight gain and improved feed efficiency seen at the feedyard, producers and consumers alike appreciate Optaflexx's minimal effects on meat and eating quality.
"Optaflexx is a beta-1 agonist, which increases protein synthesis while having little effect on fat metabolism, or marbling," explains Choat. "This is different from beta-2 agonists, which have been shown to negatively affect tenderness in beef due to protein degradation ─ an important part of the tenderization process ─ and impacts on marbling. That's why Optaflexx consistently meets industry expectations for maintaining beef's natural taste, tenderness and juiciness."
To view the new Optaflexx label in its entirety, Elanco's Web site. Optaflexx can be purchased through traditional feed suppliers and manufacturers.