Next Week's Episode

Next on The American Rancher, we travel to Alabama and Tennessee and visit operations that are getting calves off to Great Starts with Purina Animal Nutrition.

Getting cattle off to a Great Start represents one of the most challenging, yet critical phases in the life of any cattle.  The operations we will visit on this show are certainly up for the challenge.  In fact, it’s their specialty.These background operations play a key role in the cattle industry.  A large portion of our U.S. calf crop is in the hands of cow/calf owners with a relatively small number of cows so, obviously, the sell their calves in small lots that have to be combined with other owners’ calves to make more marketable, truckload lot.  By pulling cattle together and creating more uniform groups, these operations help add value to the supply chain.

The background operations we’ll visit lean on Purina products and counsel to successfully get cattle off to a Great Start.

Calves never get over a good start, or a bad one. Lifetime performance has the potential to be affected by how successful we are at getting cattle on feed and keeping them healthy. Stress puts a lot of pressure on calves with separation from the dams, changes in environment, changes in diet; many times we have changes in pen mates.  We know that if we as humans encounter only two or 3 of these factors our odds of sickness are extremely high.

What is the main objective of a back grounding program?  It’s primarily getting the acquired cattle to overcome weaning and shipping stress. They are next immunized and the Cattle need to become bunk broke. This is a huge factor to cattle performance in the next phase. Well managed programs keep cattle healthy and put on valuable gain in the weaning/receiving phase.

The nutritional components of a successful weaning program contain certain strategies. Stockmen must get cattle eating. The faster that cattle get on feed the better the chances are to keep them healthy, so palatability of the ration is critical. At the same time, to get gain performance, the ration should be balanced for protein, energy, especially trace minerals and adequate roughage for optimal rumen stability and health. Key management considerations for a successful program when weaning in a dry lot include getting the proper amount of square footage per head so that cattle can be observed and the proximity of feed and water is reasonable.

It is also effective to keep feeders and water on the perimeter of the pen. Newly weaned calves will circle the pen for the first day or so, consequently having these crucial elements where they will find them. It is also important to have the feeders butted up to the fence and extending into the pen so they will have to run into it as they circle the pen.

Purina Animal Nutrition has proven, program option recommendations for weaning calves to fit a variety of performance objectives and resources depending on the operation. The highest performance potential is achieved with Purina complete feeds such as NEW Accuration Starter Complete which is considered an improvement over our current IMPACT Starter Complete and Preconditioning Receiving Chow.  These diets are designed to be fed as the sole ration for the first 21 to 28 days and contain all the protein, energy, micro nutrients and roughage in proper proportions to optimize cattle gain. 

Accuration Starter Complete contains Purina's exclusive Intake Modifying Technology.  This allows producers to safely increase ration density and optimize feed efficiency.  Preconditioning/Receiving Chow is Purina's most widely available starting program product and gets cattle up on feed quickly, in fact we refer to it as our FAST START Complete program.  It has the potential to work very well for producers that want to move quickly to a growing program.  

If producers want to make best use of their homegrown forages and are comfortable with moderate rates of gain, one of Purina's newest products called Precon 5.  Precon 5 is designed to be hand fed at 5 pounds per head per day along with and unlimited supply of forage that has at least 8% protein.  It is considered to be the most palatable cattle feed that Purina has ever made.  That is a huge benefit and an incredible accomplishment. 

That helps assure us that a majority of calves will consume their 5 pound portion to get the key nutrients needed to respond to the vaccination program, to help build immune status. As with our NEW Accuration Starter, Precon 5 is formulated with Zinpro’s Availa 4 organic trace minerals. These may improve the biological availability key micro nutrients to health and performance.  Additionally, we have included Diamond V yeast because we want to get more free choice roughage into the cattle.  Diamond V yeast is designed to optimize the rumen environment and support forage digestion. The more hay or pasture we can get into the cattle in addition to the 5 pounds of Precon 5 the better our potential gains and efficiency.

Starting this summer Precon 5 will be undergoing a name change to Purina Stress Care® 5.  
Don’t worry Stress Care® 5 offers all the great benefits of Precon® 5. 
•    Unsurpassed palatability – meaning calves love the taste and start eating right away.  That’s critical to overcoming stress.
•    Key nutrient fortification – each 5 pounds contains a full dose of Zinpro Availa® 4 minerals and Diamond V XPC yeast.  These ingredients help support immune function and help stimulate forage intake.
•    Simple, easy to execute feeding program – along with good quality hay or pasture, calves are fed 5# per head per day of Stress Care 5 for 21-45 days in the preconditioning phase.
Purina Great Starts® Cattle feeding program is a flexible program that offers optimal solutions to your cattle weaning and receiving nutritional needs.  Based on your forage availability, labor resources, and performance objectives, a program can be designed for you to get cattle off to a Great Start and improved profit potential.

If a producer has a balanced starting or receiving ration that he wants to use and wants to augment that with some key nutrients on a free-choice basis, Purina has a cooked molasses tub product that can provide some essential benefits.  Having a Wind and Rain Availa 4 tub available in the starter pen may provide a highly palatable, concentrated source of vital nutrients.Stressed calves, especially timid calves will lick on these tubs even when they won’t come to the bunk or are consuming inadequate quantities of the starter ration.  This can make all the difference in filling the nutritional gap until these calves can get up to speed with rest of the pen.  Bringing up this bottom end may enhance the profit potential of the entire pen.

What is the value of preconditioning calves? Cattle becoming bunk broke are a huge factor to their performance in the next phase. Well managed programs keep cattle healthy ready to perform in the next phase. Buyers will reward the efforts of stockmen with good planning for marketing your calves. It’s the right thing to do for the calves to give them the best chance to stay healthy and perform up to their genetic potential. It’s also the right thing to do for our industry to keep cattle gaining efficiently and making beef more competitive with other protein sources

Producers should remember these (3) things as keys to a successful weaning program.  1) More eating, less treating. Getting cattle on feed quickly is paramount. 2) Palatable balanced rations like Preconditioning Receiving Chow, Accuration Starter Complete, and Precon 5 are backed with more than 80 years of Purina Research and field proven data. And 3) Managing the critical factors of pen conditions, feeder and water placement gives calves every opportunity to eat and drink from day 1.

Purina Animal Nutrition and its people are strong supporters of the cattle industry. At the Longview Animal Nutrition Center nutritionists, veterinarians and managers observe firsthand the interrelationship of good feed practices, good health, proper growth and development, and optimum performance.