February 29, 2016

(Dan) Hey folks, Dr. Dan from DocTalk. Thanks for joining me today on the show. We’re going to talk about a very important topic, using steroid implants in suckling calves. My guest today is Dr. Chris Reinhardt who is our State Feedlot Extension specialist and is an international expert on steroid implants in beef cattle. Thanks for joining me and stay tuned after these messages.

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(Dan) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk. Dr. Reinhardt, thanks for coming. (Chris) Howdy. (Dan) Folks, Dr. Chris Reinhardt. He is a PhD Ruminant Nutritionist and he is the State Feedlot Extension Specialist for beef cattle here in the state of Kansas. He’s over in the Animal Science Department, does a lot of work with me. I’m over here in the College of Vet Med. And it’s one of those things that whenever we get to talking about steroid implants, you know we have a pretty good understanding of the feedlot once they get there. But I still get a lot of questions about what are we gonna do for suckling calves? And specifically you know, we have different groups of cattle. We have the ones that we’re going to retain ownership, the ones we’re not going to retain ownership. Some of ’em are going into the breeding herd, males and females, and steers and bulls and many different outcomes. So what are some of your general philosophies on this? Let’s start out with the potency of implants. (Chris) You’re right Doc, the suckling calf offers us a few wrinkles that stocker cattle and feedlot cattle really don’t provide us. But strictly in terms of some generalities dosage of implant, I always say let’s match the dose of the implant to the size of the animal and the amount of available nutrients for that calf. (Dan) Right. So, when we have a calf that’s out there nursing and starting to nibble on grass, probably a lower potency implant? (Chris) Exactly. We are really blessed in this country to have products available specifically for that animal at that stage of life and at that stage of nutrition. (Dan) So, give me some examples of the ones that we’re talking about. (Chris) Real commonly we’ve got the Synovex C implants and similar doses to that. That’s a low dose of estrogen and a low dose of progesterone in addition to that. Ralgro has been around forever and is a completely different molecule and yet it acts virtually the same, in the same manner providing about the same amount of growth promotion as the Synovex C type products. (Dan) They still haven’t made an implant gun as good as the old Ralgro, metal, shorter needle, easy to handle don’t get your knuckles busted, enclosed… (Chris) Fewer moving parts is almost always a good thing. (Dan) Yea, not plastic. But, so we’re going to go with a lower potency. And is there a time frame on when we would be thinking about using that implant as far as age of the calf? (Chris) Definitely, we want to shoot for that, at bare minimum, one to three month age time frame. I’ve been digging through some of the old literature, and to go under a month we can actually have some negative side effects. (Dan) So, we’re going to wait at least a month and then when we hit that month…so anytime like branding, in that three month period when we vaccinate calves before turn out that could be a good time to catch that calf and implant it. (Chris) That’s the time to do it Doc. (Dan) So, and that was the other thing is, somebody would say, well when am I gonna worm ’em, when am I going to implant, it’s when I have ’em caught. (Chris) Exactly. (Dan) So, lots of times we don’t have much say in it. Well, let’s take a break. When we come back, let’s start getting into those differences as far as bulls, steers, heifers, replacement heifers, things to that, some of those more controversial topics. Thanks for watching DocTalk. We have a good one with us today, Dr. Chris Reinhardt from the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry here at Kansas State University.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk, Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Chris Reinhardt. He is from the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry here at Kansas State University. I teach over here at the College of Vet Med where we’re shooting this today. And we do a lot of work around the state and around the country with beef cattle and nobody is better at ruminant nutrition and steroid implant knowledge than this guy sitting next to me. So, we’re really happy to snag some of your time. And let’s talk a little bit about what kind of performance or efficiencies are we talking about when we use steroid implants? (Chris) Two things I always want producers to remember is, anytime a calf is gaining weight, has enough nutrients available to gain weight both from milk and from grass, an implant is going to pay for itself. The second thing I always stress to producers is the only implant that doesn’t work is the one you left on the table. (Dan) Right. The one you don’t use. Or the one you put in inappropriately or falls out. (Chris) Exactly. A real round figure to use is about five to ten percent. (Dan) Well, that’s a significant increase when you’re talking about average daily gain or if you’re talking about pounds sold, I mean that would be at our weaning weight or our calf weight. At five to ten percent that’s some serious money laying on the table. (Chris) For something that costs you roughly a dollar to two dollars an animal. (Dan) Yea. So you’re looking at a return on investment of $40-$50 dollars per steroid implant and that folks is real money and something you need to pay attention to. Now the one time we don’t use those is if you’re going to feed into one of these natural programs and so it does maybe have some limit to your marketing. But I think you need to figure in how much more do I need to market that calf for to make up for the lost performance that we’re going to see, or lost efficiency. (Chris) That’s exactly right. And those programs definitely have a place and can provide value. We just have to run a sharp pencil and make sure we’re making more than just a break even. (Dan) Right. So, then let’s just kind of stay on the topic of steers. One of the questions I get is, will that impact quality grade, implanting the calf on the cow, how does that have an impact if I’m going to retain ownership on quality grade of those cattle when they go to slaughter? (Chris) Back to what we had mentioned before, if we match the dosage to the size and age of the animal, and to the available nutrition for that calf, we should really expect minimal if any detrimental impact on future quality grade. (Dan) OK. So, quality grade is OK, we’re going to get a five to ten percent increase in performance. Any negative impact on using the steroid implants in these steers? And again, we’re going to talk more about replacement heifers or bull calves, is there anything that you can think of that’s negative? (Chris) The question that commonly comes up is what about the future owner of that calf, the stocker operator, the feedlot owner, does he get less value from the implants he uses at the next stage? And the data I’ve scoured over the past few months says no. If we’re using the right dose for the right animal, the next producer to own that animal is going to get full value from their program as well. (Dan) And these are a lot of short day implants anyway. (Chris) Exactly. The dosage is relatively low, the calf is gaining, should be a win-win. (Dan) Great. Folks, when we come back we’ll talk more with Dr. Chris Reinhardt. You’re watching DocTalk.

(Dan) Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with my friend and colleague Dr. Chris Reinhardt. We work at Kansas State University. We play a little bit too. But Dr. Reinhardt is the State Feedlot Extension Specialist for the state of Kansas and he spends a lot of time in other states and other countries as well and a true expert in steroid implants and ruminant nutrition. And Dr. Reinhardt when we talk about implants on suckling calves, we talked about steers, increase in improvement five to ten percent, weight gain and efficiency. But now let’s start to talk about some of the groups that we might want to think about not doing. Let’s start out with breeding bulls. (Chris) Yea again, something we’re trying to measure in those bulls is their genetics for performance. The implant may help that. We don’t have a lot of data on those young bulls using implants but the key is to remember that their purpose is for fertility, for intact sperm, libido, etc. And we don’t want to do anything to upset that applecart with the current value of breeding bulls. And so we don’t really have good data to say that those products are completely innocuous on their future fertility. Let’s not mess with Mother Nature. (Dan) Yea when you start to think about when we’re using estrogenic compounds and the impact it could have negatively on testicular development, we definitely don’t want to be using those types of products on animals that you’re going to keep back as breeding stock. And then the other one that I get a lot of is, well I’m not going to castrate my bulls, because I’m just going to use the steroid that the good Lord intended that calf to have and then I’ll castrate him at weaning. Well two things, one they have to go through puberty before they get testosterone produced from the testicles. And puberty is generally after weaning time. And so we really don’t have any advantage of leaving those bulls intact for growth performance, you’d actually be better off castrating those calves at branding then use a steroid implant to get that five to ten percent bonus and bigger weight than leaving those bulls intact. (Chris) And then as you well know, Dr. Dan has done a tremendous amount of research on the stress that that late castration has on these now nearly mature animals where you’ve taken away a very painful procedure. (Dan) Yea, I always tell people castrate calves when they’re young because the longer the testicles are attached to the calf, the more attached the calf is to the testicles. (Chris) Ouch. (Dan) So we want to make sure that we do it when the calf’s young, use a steroid implant, get along great. And I think that at the end of the day, do not use steroid implants on breeding bulls. (Chris) One hundred percent. (Dan) Alright. Well, we’re going to tackle heifers next, but I think we’ll save that for the next segment. Anything on these breeding bulls or anything on steers? (Chris) The genetics we’ve got available today are tremendous compared to when even you and I were kids, the genetics for growth in these bulls is fantastic, we don’t need to supplement what they’ve got going for them already. (Dan) Yep. And even as good as the genetics are, don’t leave that money sitting on the table. Make sure you use a steroid implant. We’re going to take a break. When we come back to DocTalk, more with Dr. Chris Reinhardt on implanting suckling calves.

(Dan) Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with my friend and colleague Dr. Chris Reinhardt. We work at Kansas State University. We play a little bit too. But Dr. Reinhardt is the State Feedlot Extension Specialist for the state of Kansas and he spends a lot of time in other states and other countries as well and a true expert in steroid implants and ruminant nutrition. And Dr. Reinhardt when we talk about implants on suckling calves, we talked about steers, increase in improvement five to ten percent, weight gain and efficiency. But now let’s start to talk about some of the groups that we might want to think about not doing. Let’s start out with breeding bulls. (Chris) Yea again, something we’re trying to measure in those bulls is their genetics for performance. The implant may help that. We don’t have a lot of data on those young bulls using implants but the key is to remember that their purpose is for fertility, for intact sperm, libido, etc. And we don’t want to do anything to upset that applecart with the current value of breeding bulls. And so we don’t really have good data to say that those products are completely innocuous on their future fertility. Let’s not mess with Mother Nature. (Dan) Yea when you start to think about when we’re using estrogenic compounds and the impact it could have negatively on testicular development, we definitely don’t want to be using those types of products on animals that you’re going to keep back as breeding stock. And then the other one that I get a lot of is, well I’m not going to castrate my bulls, because I’m just going to use the steroid that the good Lord intended that calf to have and then I’ll castrate him at weaning. Well two things, one they have to go through puberty before they get testosterone produced from the testicles. And puberty is generally after weaning time. And so we really don’t have any advantage of leaving those bulls intact for growth performance, you’d actually be better off castrating those calves at branding then use a steroid implant to get that five to ten percent bonus and bigger weight than leaving those bulls intact. (Chris) And then as you well know, Dr. Dan has done a tremendous amount of research on the stress that that late castration has on these now nearly mature animals where you’ve taken away a very painful procedure. (Dan) Yea, I always tell people castrate calves when they’re young because the longer the testicles are attached to the calf, the more attached the calf is to the testicles. (Chris) Ouch. (Dan) So we want to make sure that we do it when the calf’s young, use a steroid implant, get along great. And I think that at the end of the day, do not use steroid implants on breeding bulls. (Chris) One hundred percent. (Dan) Alright. Well, we’re going to tackle heifers next, but I think we’ll save that for the next segment. Anything on these breeding bulls or anything on steers? (Chris) The genetics we’ve got available today are tremendous compared to when even you and I were kids, the genetics for growth in these bulls is fantastic, we don’t need to supplement what they’ve got going for them already. (Dan) Yep. And even as good as the genetics are, don’t leave that money sitting on the table. Make sure you use a steroid implant. We’re going to take a break. When we come back to DocTalk, more with Dr. Chris Reinhardt on implanting suckling calves.

Closed Captioning brought to you by AgriLabs, the Perfect Pairing of Performance and Value.

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