December 21, 2015

(Dan) Hey folks, Dr. Dan from DocTalk here. I’m really glad you joined us today. We’re gonna talk about steroid implants. We’re gonna talk about why we use ’em, we’re gonna talk about how to put ’em in the cow, we’re gonna talk about how to check your work after it’s been done and the importance of doing the job right. Thanks for joining us and I’ll see you here after these messages.

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(Dan) Hey folks. Welcome to DocTalk, Dr. Dan here, Kansas State University. We’re down here in the clinic, so the veterinary college. And we’re gonna use a bovine here to demonstrate implant techniques. But before we get started, one of the things I want to just kinda, let’s talk about steroid implants, what the compounds are, why we use ’em and their safety. First of all, the compounds that are utilized in steroid implants are estrogen, progesterone and trenbolone acetate. Estrogen and progesterone are both female reproductive hormones that cows, people produce daily, OK? The next steroid implant is trenbolone acetate and that product is an analog of testosterone. That analog is more, has more affinity for testosterone receptors than testosterone itself. And so it’s a synthetic that’s used in these steroid implants to promote growth. When we look at the size of the amount that we utilize of an estrogenic implant, and we’ll show you a little bit here of what these implants look like. But for an 800 to 1,000 pound animal, the estrogen, progesterone pellet that we put subcutaneously under the ear is about the size of an Advil, 200 milligrams that we put in an 800 to 1,000 pound animal for 150 day period. For me an Advil lasts 4 to 6 hours. For the bovine, this 200 milligram product will last 150 days. What does it do for the producer? What does it do for growth and performance? The big thing about improving growth and performance is that we increase average daily gain by 15 to 20 percent, with a light increase in dry matter intake. But we get a great improvement in our feed efficiency of 15 to 20 percent feed efficiency improvement, which decreases the amount of feed needed to produce a pound of gain. Which give us a return on investment per steroid implant within the beef industry for the producer of somewhere from $40 to $60 dollars per steroid implant utilized. It really is a great management tool, both biologically and economically for us to use within the industry. Now, one of the questions that we get, natural or organic versus conventional raised product. With conventionally raised product, getting steroid implants and the natural and organics not. It costs us around $200 dollars more per head to raise an animal with no steroid implant in a natural program relative to conventional. And it costs us nearly $400 to $600 dollars more to produce an organically raised animal relative to a conventionally raised animal. Another question we get a lot of times about steroid implants from consumers is about the safety. And you see no hormones added, whether it’s poultry or other products. And really advertising against the use of steroid implants for this improved feed efficiency. Well, when you take a look at this table that my good friend Dr. Dan Lloyd up at Iowa State produced, you can see that when you look at soy flour defatted or tofu or other products, when we look at the estrogenic activity in a steak from a steroid implanted animal relative to a steak from a non-implanted animal, an eight ounce steak here, the difference is three versus two nanograms of estrogenic activity. Now, on the news you’re gonna see that there’s an increase of estrogenic activity by 150 percent and they’d be absolutely right. The difference is they’re not telling you that’s a difference of one nanogram. How big’s a nanogram? A nanogram per kilogram is equivalent to a blade of grass on a football field. These products are safe. They’ve been used since the 1950s and when we come back, we’re gonna talk more about how to properly administer these products and how to check your work and why we use these. Thanks for watching DocTalk and we’ll be back after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan here and I’ve got my trusty assistant old Bossy and we’re gonna talk about how to administer steroid implants so that we make sure that we get, when we start to think about a $50 dollar return on investment per animal going through the chute, it doesn’t take too many animals going through that chute to figure out, hey we need to be doing a good job. And the big thing is we want to prevent getting abscesses within the steroid implant. So, the first thing you’re going to do is check your equipment. And when you have an implant gun, you know some of the things that you want to check is you want to make sure you don’t have barbs on your needle. So that we use good sharp needles to administer these products and they’re easy to exchange. You want to make sure that these are in good working order and you want to make sure the steroid implants are not outdated. Those are some big checklist things that you do. But that barb on the end of the needle is what I want to make sure first and foremost as I’m looking at this. Now, depending on which hand you’re going to use, will also depend on which way you’re going to put the bevel of the needle. If you’re right handed and you’re going to have your right hand on top, you’re gonna want the bevel of the needle, the opening of the bevel of the needle pointed up because you want to be able to thread this needle just underneath the skin, underneath the Sub-Q to run the needle across and then as you pull the trigger, be able to pinch that off and make sure that that steroid implant stays where it is that you want to do. Adjust the bevel of the needle. I like the bevel to be up. Some people like the bevel to be down. That’s just my personal preference as I slide that in at an angle underneath the Sub-Q. So, that’s what I’m going to do with the implant again. Some of the things you’re gonna want around the chute. I like to have a butter knife. I like to have a scrub brush and you can have a scrub brush on a handle or a short brush like this. And then of course we’re gonna have a sponge for the needle. Now the first thing I’m gonna do is I’m going to look at the ear of the animal that I’m going to implant. Now if you’re in a hurry and you’re doing a lot of animals, the first thing you’re probably going to do when cattle come in to your facility is you’re gonna take the ear tags out. When you take the ear tags out, that will expose this ear. But this animal here has an ear tag in the left ear. But the ear tag, or ID tag is in the right ear. So, I would probably switch and use the right ear to put my steroid implant. There’s two basic places that we want to make sure that we’re going to put the steroid implant. We’re going to put the implant in the back of the ear. And I’ll explain this. The back, middle one third, just below the ridge line. Now, some people will put, if there’s an ear tag in both ears put the steroid on the top ridge. When we put the implant on the top ridge, there’s sometimes a point, an opportunity that those animals will rub that implant out with the cable in the feed bunks. So, putting that implant in the middle one third. Now, if I have a dry ear, that has dirt on it I will use the butter knife to just uncrust some of that dirt or debris on the top of the ear. If you have a caked ear, one with mud then you’re gonna use the scrub brush with the chlorahexidine solution and you’re gonna scrub that ear and get as much of the debris off of the dirty ear as possible. This ear is clean as a whistle, but those are the two things. The reason why I use that butter knife or why I use that scrub brush is so that we can make sure that when we do this, that we’re getting that off. The other thing is, that’s very important, is keeping our needles clean. And between the uses we’re gonna use this sponge and chlorahexidine, a lot of times you can use the implant trays and you can get rid of the debris off of your needle, so that you make sure that you don’t have a problem. When we come back, we’ll talk a little bit more about administration of steroid implants. You’re watching DocTalk and I hope that you come back after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to Doc Talk. Dr. Dan here. And when you start to look at this is the old Ralgro gun. And I still don’t think anybody’s every invented a gun for steroid implants better than these. They’re short needled and good, strong, sturdy handle and something that’s, since I was in high school and worked with my Dad and Granddad working cattle, this is one of those things that using this type of gun has just been real handy. But all the guns work good. I just had to show an example of how small a steroid implant dosage is, when we give to a, even a 1,500 pound animal like I’ve got standing behind me. And you know, the cartridges that the steroid implants come in, you can see right here is a Ralgro cartridge. You’re gonna put that Ralgro cartridge right there in that gun. We’ll have a needle and then we’re gonna move over here to the animal to where we would show how we demonstrate applying the steroid implant. So, the steroid implant is here in this gun. We’ll just slide this underneath the needle. We’re gonna then depress the, and remove it and the implant would be placed in the ear. Obviously when we start to think about some of the things that we do, this is a very simple procedure. But it’s one that can cost us a lot of money if we don’t do it correctly. When we look at reports like what I have here from the University of Nebraska or from other, the biggest problems that we have today with implants, improper implantation, the number one is abscess, number two is bunching. And when you get a bunched abscess, is if you have your finger in front or if you put the needle up against the cartilage of the ear, it will actually mash that steroid implant into the cartilage or into your finger, and it will bunch it up and it won’t pay out correctly. Crushed implants. A lot of times the crushed implants are due to a malfunction of the gun. Make sure that the depressor or the dislodger of the implant is not caught within the needle crushing it. Missed implants. This is sometimes, if you get a brand new needle, you might want to make sure that if you have one wind up on your boot, that you haven’t gone clear through the ear. That you back up and that you slide that subcutaneously. A pellet missing or walling off. When you have an implant that’s walled off, basically what probably happened was you got an inflammation, similar to a small abscess, then the defense mechanism of the body is to wall that foreign body off. And you’ll wall the steroid implant off. And then the last one is putting it in the cartilage. And that’s simply just putting the steroid implant into that cartilage. You want to come back about a month after you’ve run the cattle through the chute, or if you have cattle coming in for a re-implant or even at slaughter, you can go in and check your implants. And all’s I’ll do is I’ll just come in and just feel the back of the ear and you can feel whether or not you have an abscess, whether that implant was placed in the cartilage, whether or not that implant was bunched, or worse, missing. The worst implant abnormality I find is missing. Even if it’s abscessed, even if it’s bunched, even if it’s in the cartilage, we’ll still get some growth promotion out of those steroid implants. It’s not ideal and it’s not the best performance, but you’ll still get some performance. But if that implant’s missing, then we have a problem. Sometimes we’ll get an abscess the abscess will open up and the steroid implant pellets will come out, so make sure you keep the ear clean, make sure you get the dirt and manure caked, taken off of there. Use good implanting technique and you’ll wind up with a satisfactory product and good performance.

(Dan) Folks, welcome back to DocTalk. I hope you’ve enjoyed the show. I’m sure that she has. As we’re talking about steroid implants and utilization, one of the questions I get from producers is, what kind of steroid implant program should I use? And the first questions I have to ask you is what is your goal? If your goal is to produce the most, the highest quality carcass, meaning the highest marbling grade, the highest USDA grade choice, then my, and you don’t care about performance or feed efficiency, then my answer is don’t use a steroid implant. If you say, I don’t care about carcass quality, I just want to have the most efficient growth rate in the animals that I can possibly have, and I don’t care if I have low marbling or decrease my quality grade, then I would pick a very aggressive steroid implant strategy. For the most part we wind up being somewhere in between. When we’re looking at feeder steers that are coming in, my recommendation is if they weigh 700 pounds or less, then we’re going to use two steroid implants while they’re on feed for 180 days or however long they’re going to be on feed. And I would start out with a medium potency implant, something that is gonna be, and we have a list here of the medium potency implants. And then 100 days prior to slaughter, I would come in with a terminal or high potency implant, which here’s again the list of the high potency implants that are on the market. It’s really important that we have that 100 day gap between the terminal implant and slaughter so that we can maximize feed efficiency and growth without impairing our quality grade or impairing our carcass quality. So, heifers, similar concept. We just have a 100 pound different break. We’ll use a 600 pounds. If they weigh 600 pounds or less, they’ll get two steroid implants, a medium potency implant up front and then a terminal implant or high potency 100 days prior to slaughter. If steers weigh over 700 pounds or heifer weighs over 600 pounds coming into the feedlot, then I’m just going to use one terminal implant at the time of processing on arrival. And that will give me maximum performance without having a negative impact on carcass quality. Steroid implants are a great tool. I’m glad that we have them. They’re a safe tool. We’ve been using them since the 1950’s, and that we need to continue to use in a responsible manner. Thanks for watching DocTalk. Remember always work with your local practitioner and when it comes to steroid implants you might want to get that nutritionist involved and you might want to talk to your county extension specialist. If you want to know more about DocTalk, or find us on the web, you can find us at Thanks for watching DocTalk today. I’m glad that you spent your day, your afternoon, your morning with us. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson from Kansas State University and I’ll see you down the road.

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