(Dr. Dan Thomson) Hey folks welcome to DocTalk today, I’m glad that you joined us. We have a special guest Dr. Dan Loy, the Director of the Iowa Beef Center from Iowa State University, is going to be with us. We’re going to talk about steroid implants, we’re going to talk about the impact they have on the efficiency of the beef industry, the impact on carcass and some of the things and myths about safety. Thanks for joining us.
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(Dr. Dan Thomson) Welcome to the show. Folks, this is Dr. Dan Loy, he’s from Iowa State University where he’s a professor and the director of the Iowa Beef Center. We’re pleased to have you here on the show and taking some time out of your busy schedule to talk about steroid implants. (Dr. Dan Loy) I’m happy to be here. It’s very exciting to be here down in Manhattan, Kansas. (Dan T) Well, it’s– the work that you’ve done for our industry, the work that you continue to do whether it’s through extension or outreach on…steroid implants have been a part of your life for quite a while, haven’t they? (Dan L) Long time. I actually did my thesis work on this many years ago. Actually, Dan, if you recall, we used to sit down and talk about implants like this when you were in graduate school, only we didn’t have a camera. (Dan T) I know it. I followed your work and Rod Preston and yourself and then I did my thesis on steroid implants. This is kind of exciting for me to be able to spin this. Tell me a little bit about steroid implants and what they are and what they do. (Dan L) It’s a technology that the beef industry relies on quite a bit and is a little bit misunderstood. But if you look at products and technologies that are out there in terms of the ability to return value per dollar invested, there’s probably no technology that does that or reduces the cost of production and ultimately the cost of beef for consumers more than implants do. That’s something I think that’s really important to consider. Basically, with implants, we’re looking at products that can increase growth rate in cattle from 10 to as much as 25% or 30% for a terminal implant and feed conversions from somewhere around 7% or 8% for the basic estrogen-type implants to as much as 15 to almost 20%. If you look at that and its impact on the growth rate and the product and the cost of production, there’s really not any other technologies that do that to that extent. (Dan T) Steroids were discovered or patented at least in the 50s at Iowa State. (Dan L) That’s right. The very first implants were developed by Dr. Burroughs at Iowa State. It led to the development of some of the pharmaceutical companies that exist today that are still in the implant business. (Dan T) Big time. One of the things is we’re not talking about big amounts of compound being placed in the ear. (Dan L) It’s a very small amount. One of the things that differentiates the beef industry in the U.S. compared to Europe or Brazil is that American consumers don’t like to eat meat from bulls. This technology replaces some of those hormones that would naturally exist and the effects that they have on growth rate and carcass. It does the same thing with younger heifers that naturally produce less estrogen, for example. The amounts to do that are just minuscule in comparison to what’s naturally produced in the beef animal. (Dan T) That’s awesome. Well, I appreciate you being here on the show. We’re going to take a break, folks. When we come back, we’re going to talk a little bit about how these implants work, how to design a program for your farm or ranch. More with Dr. Dan Loy from Iowa State University after these messages.
(Dan T) Hey, folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan here with Dr. Dan, Dr. Dan Thomson and Dr. Dan Loy. Dr. Loy is the Director of the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University. He’s in the Department of Animal Sciences there. What kind of compounds are we utilizing in steroid implants? (Dan L) There are several different compounds that you’ll find if you read the labels and look at what veterinarians have on the shelves. But really there’s two basic active ingredients that really promote growth that are in those compounds. They’re both hormones. One is estrogen. You mentioned that I did research on this many years ago as part of my thesis. At that time, all of the implants that were available were estrogen implants. Later, the androgen implants were developed. That’s the implants I believe you worked on and is part of your work and those are our male hormones. They’re different than the male hormones that are naturally produced in that they’re are more anabolic and that they promote muscle growth and have less of some of the sexual side effects that we see, the crusty necks and those types of effects. But both of those work by increasing muscle growth, repartitioning nutrients from fat to muscle. As a result of that, we see faster growth rate and we see a more efficient product that’s produced. The important thing and the reason that we differentiate between the androgens and the estrogens is that some of the implants contain both of those. When you do that, you basically double the response. When you might get a 10% or 12% improvement and daily gain with the combination implants, it’s more like 20% or even, we have a study going on right now at Iowa State, looking at implants and no implants in finishing cattle. In the first 56 days, the response was about 25% in terms of growth rate with no implant versus a combination implant. Those are the ones that are usually used as the final implant, the terminal implant in a feedlot situation. (Dan T) When I go about developing a program for my cattle, and you have some great materials on the Iowa Beef Center, and that’s kind of where I came up with the idea of doing this show, but how do you start out having that conversation about, what’s best for my herd or my group of steers? (Dan L) I think the important thing to remember and I really emphasize this with producers, is the most important implant is the last implant before you market the cattle. If you’re a cow/calf producer, that’s the calfhood implant. You’re going to get 30 pounds more weaning weight, plus or minus 10 pounds. With a feedlot producer, it’s that terminal implant in the feedlot, and if you develop your marketing date, work back 60 to a hundred days. Usually, we say 70 or 80 days, and that’s when you need to administer your terminal implant. Then depending on the timing prior to that then you determine the implant that you use prior to that. (Dan T) I got you. We’d use an initial implant upfront in the feeding period, and then the second implant, if needed, if they’re going to be on feed that long, we’d come back at 70 to 100 days prior slaughter. (Dan L) Yes, exactly. (Dan T) Good. We’re going to get into more about the effects of these different implant programs that they have on performance, on carcass, and attaining your goals for you and your farm. You’re watching DocTalk and we’re sure glad that you joined us.
(Dan T) Hey, folks, welcome back to DocTalk, Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Dan Loy. We’re at Kansas State University and Dr. Loy is here visiting today from the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University, where he’s the Director. We’re talking about steroid implants. We got to that picking the last implant that we would give the cattle as we go on, whether it’s the calfhood or the terminal implant for feeder steers, there’s some potential in between. (Dan L) Yes, if you look at the different combinations that are available out there. There are I think 34 is the number of implants that are on shelves that the veterinarians have. If you start looking at the potential number of implants that can be used, let’s say, if you use two in a finishing period, that’s 34 squared potential combinations that could be used in an implant program. It gets to be really confusing for producers. What we like to do is classify it by their active ingredient, the estrogen or the androgen, their dosage or their potency, and then the implants within that group. I don’t feel strongly about which ones they pick, so that narrows it down. Then as I mentioned, start at the end, because that last implant, the last 80 to 100 days is the most important implant that they’re using, and then count backwards. Then look at your goals, your strategic goals on what you want to accomplish for that period prior to that. The worst time to develop an implant program is when the veterinarian is standing there in front of the chute, you’re processing calves and say, “Hey, Doc, what should I use?” That happens way too often. Be strategic, start at the end, start at the marketing because that’s when the cattle are growing the fastest, the response is on a percentage basis. Having the best implant you can use when those cattle are growing the fastest is going to be the most effective. (Dan T) At the end, you’re going to have that terminal or the highest potency implant, and then I’m assuming that your lower potency implants are what you’re going to use on the suckling calves. (Dan L) Exactly. The medium, in between, will be developed on the timing. If it’s a short duration, you might use a lower dosage, for your overall strategies and goals. If your goal is to, you’re in a situation where feed costs are low, you want to maximize your impact on cost of production. You might be more aggressive and use the higher potency. If you’re concerned about carcass quality, we may get into that in another segment. Then, you might be a little more conservative at the end. (Dan T) I always look at the low, medium, high potency implants. The three implants in a calf’s life, but there are other products on the market now that we may not even have to re-implant. (Dan L) Some of the newer technologies are looking at the delivery system where it extends the time that the implants are available, and that’s the newest implants that are out there. They’re a little more expensive, but they reduce the need to bring the cattle in and re-implant them. That really increases the flexibility. (Dan T) When I’m out in practice, if a person doesn’t know the number of days their cattle are going to be on feed, generally speaking, I’ll use one of those longer day implants because then we just don’t have to have the guess work involved. This has been a great show, folks, to get Dr. Loy here on the show. When we come back, we’re going to talk a little bit about the effects of implants on carcass and some of the myths about safety. You’re watching DocTalk, more after these messages.
(Dan T) Hey, folks, Dr. Dan here with Dr. Dan Loy, who’s the Director of the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University, which they have a wonderful website that you need to go and check out. Your website is? (Dan L) iowabeefcenter.org. Iowa Beef Center all one word. (Dan T) Yes, iowabeefcenter.org. Let’s talk a little bit about carcass and safety with steroid implants. What impacts will I notice with steroid implants on the carcass, or potentially notice? (Dan L) I mentioned that in other countries, the preferred production is bulls. Bulls, they grow faster. They’re more muscular. They’ll have, their growth rate of muscle is faster. They have less fat. What implants do is take steers, which is the preferred beef that consumers in the US like and brings back some of that lost performance that we would have with bulls. It shifts the growth curve. Basically, what we see is it has some of the effects if you’re familiar with frame size. An implant will increase the frame size about one frame score. At the same weight, they’re going to have more muscle and less fat. With the combination implants we talked about, it has about the same effect as increasing at about two frame scores. We’re looking at cattle that need to be 150 to as much as 200 pounds heavier to be at the same body composition. Same fat thickness, same yield grade, and same carcass quality. That means we may need to feed them a few extra days on feed to get them to the same marbling score. Or if we’re going to be more aggressive in our feeding program, we may slightly decrease marbling score. Some of our combination implants have a little higher dosage, and we can sometimes see maybe a 10% reduction in carcass quality grade but at the same time, further improvement and feed efficiency. There’s trade-offs there, depending on what the incentives are from a carcass standpoint and as well of cost to production standpoint. (Dan T) Cool. I know you’ve done some work on safety in steroid implants. We don’t have much time, but if you can summarize some of the stuff. It’s on the website, correct? (Dan L) It’s on the website. We have a FAQ sheet that’s written for consumers on hormones in beef. Why do we use hormone implants? What are the impacts on the beef product, and that type of thing? Just summarizes very quickly the amount of estrogen, for example, that’s added in a beefsteak. I looked at it as a pound beefsteak, most people don’t quite eat that much, is added, is just a couple of nanograms which is a very small amount in comparison to the thousands of nanograms that we produce in our bodies every day whether we’re male or female. Other food products, legumes, soy specifically have much more. (Dan T) Go to their website, iowabeefcenter.org and check out all the information they have on implants, on safety, carcass and all that. Thanks for being on the show today. (Dan L) You bet, happy to do it. (Dan T) Thanks for watching today. Remember, always work with your local veterinarian. If you want to know more about what we do on DocTalk, you can find us on the web at www.doctalktv.com. Thanks for watching today, folks. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. I’ll see you down the road.
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