January 26, 2015

(Dan) Good morning folks, and welcome to Doc Talk. Dr. Dan Thomson. Sure glad that you joined us today. It’s going to be a great show. We’re gonna discuss how steroid implants work in beef cattle. My guest Dr. Chris Reinhardt from the Animal Science Department from right here at Kansas State University. Enjoy the show.

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(Dan) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson and this is Dr. Chris Reinhardt who is a friend and a colleague here at Kansas State University. He is an associate professor, fixing to be a full professor at Kansas State University in the Department of Animal Science and Industries. He is also our State Beef Extension Specialist for feedlots. And he’s a ruminant nutritionist and Chris, first of all I just appreciate all you do for Kansas. Appreciate what you do for K-State and what you do for the Beef Cattle Institute. Let’s get in to this and start talking about breaking it down. Steroid implants have been around since the ’50s. And what compounds are used? (Chris) Well, we can get super technical and put everybody to sleep, myself included. But in a broad sense we typically use estrogenic, and androgenic hormones. The common, what we’d all know as the female hormone and the male hormone. (Dan) So, estrogenic would be like your estradiol or estrogens. Androgenic are the testosterone but we don’t actually use testosterone, we use an anabolic called trenbolone acetate. (Chris) Correct. It’s more potent than the testosterone, but it does essentially the same thing in the body. (Dan) With no sexual side effects. (Chris) Correct. (Dan) OK. So, when we use these compounds, you know, I think one of the things that amazes me is how small the dosage really is. I mean it just…what kind of dosage rates are we talking about? These are four, five, eight hundred pound animals. We’re 200 pound beast. (Chris) And the total dosage we put in that animal ear is in the milligram dosage. Between 20 and up to 200 milligrams. (Dan) So, when we’re talking about 20 to 200 milligrams how long, I mean… for like I said, if I’m gonna take a 200 milligram Advil I take two of those. So, we’re talking about two, one Advil equivalent dosage. Over how long a period of time is that? Is it daily, weekly? (Chris) No. (Dan) You know I’m baiting you on that. (Chris) We’ll put that in, and we’ll let that implant go for 100, 120, 150 days. (Dan) So, we’re talking about dosing an animal with 200 milligrams over 150 to 180 days and an animal that weighs 800 pounds. Not a very big dose. (Chris) Very, very small. (Dan) Now, these dosage rates, these are not injectables, these are a subcutaneous pellet that’s placed underneath the skin of the ear that pay out over this time. You know, one of the things, we’ve got about a minute before we go to break, that it lends itself to me that these products are extremely safe, when it comes to human consumption and residue. I mean a 200 milligram dosage rate over 180 days in an 800 pound animal. Do you have some feel for that? (Chris) It what I like is our FDA, our CVM has put in place what I’ll call multiple hurdles of safety. You mentioned the implant being placed under the skin, in the middle third of the animals ear. I always ask people, when’s the last time they sat down to a nice, juicy piece of ear? I mean, we even put the implant in a place that will never be used for human consumption. (Dan) So, in the meat, very little residue, if any. And when we come back, we’ll give you some comparative numbers. You’re watching DocTalk. We’re talking about steroid implants, their safety and how they work in the ruminant animal with Dr. Chris Reinhardt.

(Dan) Folks welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Chris Reinhardt from the Department of Animal Science and Industries here at Kansas State University and we’re talking about steroid implants. And when we talk about the safety, I keep going back to that publication Dan Lloyd put out from Iowa State comparing the estrogenic activity of different feed stuffs, or food stuffs. And when you look at soy flour at over 350 million nanograms of estrogenic activity, or tofu over millions of nanograms of estrogenic activity in an eight ounce serving, or you look at eggs, and cabbage and peas and their estrogenic activity of 100, 2,000, nanograms of estrogenic activity. Folks when you’re looking at an eight ounce steak, from an implanted steer, there are three nanograms of estrogenic activity in that steak. When you look at the estrogenic activity of the steak from a natural or organic steer that was not implanted with a steroid implant the estrogenic activity within that eight ounce steak is two nanograms of estrogenic activity. So the difference of one. How small is a nanogram? A nanogram per kilogram is equivalent to a blade of grass on a football field. So, when we talk about the safety. And we talk about the opportunity that we have, I think a lot of people are misled on the amount of estrogenic activity in… or steroid activity and we really need to get to know the facts because there’s a lot less estrogenic activity in meat that’s implanted with steroids… beef from the implant of steroids than what there is in eggs, or milk, or cabbage or peas or tofu or things of that nature, in magnitudes of thousands and millions. (Chris) And the other thing I like to add is that doesn’t make those food unhealthy. (Dan) No, they’re very healthy. They’re good for you. (Chris) Our bodies have the ability and design to process those and use those and not be affected by those estrogenic activities whatsoever. So, all of this screaming over one nanogram, when our body itself produces hundreds of millions everyday, gets me excited. (Dan) A pregnant woman produces 20 million nanograms of estrogen a day. A non-pregnant female produces 500 thousand of nanograms of estrogen a day. An adult male produces a 130 thousand nanograms of estrogen a day. It’s something natural and we’re gonna throw the baby out with the bathwater over that blade of grass on the football field. So, anyway, let’s talk just briefly, we’ve got about a minute, just tell me the efficiencies of utilizing these products because they also improve sustainability and decrease the input of natural resources to produce beef. (Chris) We have the opportunity to use implants almost from the birth of the calf. We have very low dose implants that match the size, the small size of the young calf, through the suckling phase. We’ve got implants that match the growing phase, whether they are in dry lot or on pasture. And we’ve got implants that match that bigger animal. Long story short, use of those implants reduces I’ll say, the carbon footprint improves the production efficiency of that animal in its lifetime by 10 to 15 percent. (Dan) So, 10 to 15 percent less feed is required to produce that animal the same size, relative to one we don’t utilize. And that’s huge. (Chris) It’s one of the few things we can do in production agriculture that delivers every time. (Dan) Hard to tell somebody in a developing nation why we wouldn’t use these kind of products to improve efficiency and make more food. (Chris) Sure. (Dan) Thanks for watching DocTalk. When we come back we’re gonna talk a little bit more with Dr. Reinhardt about how these products work in your cattle.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson and Dr. Chris Reinhardt here from Kansas State University and we’re having what I think is a great show, because it’s something I wanted to get on the show, to explain to people and have this… get it on YouTube, get it on our archive, share it with your relatives, because the truth about the safety and the effectiveness of steroid implants really needs to get out there, because this is a technology we need to keep. And this is a technology we need to expand for beef production. But let’s talk about how these products work. So, I give a calf a steroid implant. Don’t use this in pigs and chickens because they don’t work in monogastrics, they work in sheep, goats and cattle. And so tell me once I give an injection, or give… but I give a steroid implant underneath the ear to a calf, what’s happening? (Chris) And that’s where we can really lose our audience, it’s very, very technical. And it turns on dozens if not hundreds of systems inside that animal. But what I like to relay that to is, I was so excited when I learned, all of those really complicated systems that are getting turned on by that tiny, little pellet are the exact same systems that get turned on by using a bigger breed of bull. (Dan) Gotcha. (Chris) It’s about growth. And really turning on the systems that genetics for bigger size, greater efficiency turn on, without that implant. (Dan) So basically when you use a steroid implant before puberty, you’re just shifting that mature body size. It’s actually the opposite of what most people think is happening. Most people think that when you give a hormone, you re… the onset of puberty comes quicker. Actually when we use the steroid hormone, we’re actually delaying puberty and shifting the mature body size with the frame size of those animals. We all understand that that young animal is extremely efficient, very lean growth, growing frame, growing muscle. And just what you said Doc, by delaying us middle age people would like to have some of our fat deposition delayed for a couple of years. And that’s essentially what we’re doing with that calf. We’re putting them in a more immature phase of growth. You’re exactly right. (Dan) So we shift the mature body size. And I like how you said it during the break, you know, it’s the equivalent to selecting a different bull to frame. (Chris) Yea, if you’re a western rancher trying to use a smaller frame bull to raise small heifers and smaller size cows, and yet you have steer offspring, using these implants essentially allows you to cheat the system, rewind the clock and turn that frame five calf into a frame six or even a frame seven calf. (Dan) By using the steroid implants. So, when we say we’re shifting the mature body size of these critters we’re taking these animals from a frame five to a frame score six or seven by the use of the implant. And if we didn’t use a steroid implant you would just leave them in a frame score five. (Chris) And market at a much lower weight and that’s really what we measure efficiency by, by how many pounds we get to sell at the end. (Dan) Cool. Let’s take a break. When we come back, we’re gonna wrap up with Dr. Reinhardt. We’re gonna talk a little bit more about how these steroid implants affect the body and growth rates of your calves. You’re watching DocTalk and we’re really glad that you joined us.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Chris Reinhardt and we’re at the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University where Dr. Reinhardt is in the Department of Animal Science. And he is our State Feedlot Extension Specialist in the state of Kansas. And we talked about shifting that mature body size. And so when we use a steroid implant… Let’s just take a show steer or a commercial steer, we implant ’em. They’re gonna go from a frame score five to a frame score seven, so,┬áthat shift in mature body size. When we get those animals to an end point. And the end point, as people know is the amount of fat deposited over that twelfth and thirteenth rib or the tail head, however you’re gonna judge it. These animals actually have more lean tissue deposition, more muscling, not necessarily because they’re Arnold Schwarzenegger. You know I mean, people think of that with steroid implants. That’s not the reason. The reason is because we shifted that mature body size and to get that taller animal to the same end point, we had to deposit more muscle to support that frame. (Chris) I really like that analogy of shifting the growth curve to the right, as it were. Because the implants do the same thing as using a bigger bull. It’s not like simply blowing them up like a muscle builder. Implants turn on everything. But so does using a bigger breed of bull. There’s just more pounds there at the end. (Dan) So, it’s just, we just wind up with a larger calf and the efficiency comes because we’re getting increased pounds of gain on the same amount of feed as what we did with that smaller frame animal. (Chris) And that’s really where we are today in the beef industry is trying to find efficiencies in the margin. And implants as I said are the one thing we can count on time and time again on delivering that efficiency. (Dan) So, steroid implants will increase lean muscle deposition. They have no effect on fat. (Chris) Correct. (Dan) And whether it’s fat deposition across the loin or in the steak, people have that misconception that steroid implants decrease the quality grade because they decrease fat deposition, they actually just increase the muscling deposition around the same amount of fat. (Chris) Correct. (Dan) So, what about tenderness in steroid implants? (Chris) That’s the same story. Simply making the animal bigger and more efficient, as long as we take them to same fat defined end point, whether that’s external fat or marbling deposition, the tenderness is the same. (Dan) So, we do have to worry about the quality grade? (Chris) So, what are some of your strategies or recommendations for producers to… when do you really worry about quality grade and how to impact that? Not impact that in a negative manner? (Chris) The simplest thing is to match the dosage of the implant to the animal and the nutrition provided. (Dan) Chris, thanks for being on the show today. (Chris) You’re always welcome. (Dan) Folks, Dr. Chris Reinhardt. I don’t know if we could do a much better job of getting this message out, but steroid implants are a safe technology that we need to be using and we need to get the word out to consumers and to people. So, if you want to know more about what we do here at Kansas State University you can find us on the web at www.vet.ksu.edu. You’ve been watching Doc Talk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson with Dr. Chris Reinhardt and we’ll see you down the road.

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