With calf prices at record highs, maximizing calf survival and thriftiness is more important now than ever before. Calf scours cause more financial loss to cattle producers than any other health issue. Losses are not only reflected in lost calves and treatment costs, but also in reduced performance in surviving calves.
It is estimated that 61% of calf deaths are caused by scours. Calf scours are not a disease per se, but a symptom of one of a great variety of causes. Noninfectious causes of diarrhea include poor nutrition of the dam, inadequate colostrum intake, poor management and/or poor environmental conditions. Infectious causes include bacterial, viral and protozoan infections. Of the infectious agents, E. coli is the most common source of scours.
E. coli colonize within the gut by attaching to the finger-like projections within the intestines. Every animal carries E. coli, even you and I, and it is part of the normal flora of the gut. Calves are born with a sterile gut but pick up E. coli from the environment. When the amount of challenge exceeds the body’s ability to keep the bacteria in check, scours occur. Traditionally, E. coli is controlled through a combination of management, sanitation and antibiotics.
It goes without saying that properly fed dams, receiving proper mineral nutrition during pregnancy, particularly copper, selenium and zinc, will give birth to thriftier calves. This is partially due to improved quality and quantity of colostrum ingested by the calf to impart passive immunity. The mentioned minerals are key building blocks in antibody production. Additionally, these calves will be born with adequate supplies of these key minerals so that their own bodies will have what they need for the development of their own immune system.
However, even the strongest immune system can be subverted when faced with overwhelming numbers of infectious invaders. Because E. coli is spread from animal to animal via manure, proper sanitation is a must. Provide a “clean” calving area if possible. Sunlight and fresh air are the best sanitation agents, thus calving in the open on clean, dry ground is preferable to a dark, damp stall. If you do calve inside, be sure to thoroughly disinfect calving areas and put down fresh bedding between calvings. Avoid over-crowding in barns and shelters and be sure that there is proper ventilation.
Many producers utilize antibiotics in feed or milk-replacers to prevent E. coli outbreaks, particularly when there have been outbreaks in the past. Use of antibiotics has historically served the cattle industry well. However, in today’s current production environment, there are times when use of antibiotics is undesirable, whether due to antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli or a desire by the producer to market natural beef. Luckily, other options have emerged.
CRYSTALYX® offers several supplements containing a revolutionary ingredient called Bio-Mos®. Technically, Bio-Mos® is a phosphorylated manna-oligosaccharide derived from a specific strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae capable of binding pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli that express a type I fimbriae. What does that mean in English? Simply, it means that Bio-Mos® is a “sticky sugar” derived from yeast that binds to E. coli and doesn’t let go. Because E. coli has only one binding site, if it is bound to Bio-Mos® it cannot bind to the gut lining. If it can’t bind to the gut lining and is floating free, it can’t establish a colony and passes out in the manure.
CRYSTALYX® BGF-20 with Bio-Mos® and CRYSTALYX® BGF-30 with Bio-Mos® both deliver recommended levels of Bio-Mos® in addition to supplemental protein and a complete mineral and vitamin package that provides 100% of NRC-recommended levels of copper, zinc and selenium for a strong immune system.
The CRYSTALYX® Breed-Up® 20 with Bio-Mos®, CRYSTALYX® Breed-Up® 28 with Bio-Mos® and CRYSTALYX® Breed-Up® 17 Mag with Bio-Mos® are designed for pre-calving through breeding. All deliver recommended levels of Bio-Mos® and are fortified at 200% of NRC-recommended levels of copper and zinc, including highly available, organic forms of copper, zinc, manganese and cobalt. This combination helps cows build adequate body stores needed for optimum growth, calf development, lactation and rebreeding.
CRYSTALYX® Brigade® with Bio-Mos® is specially fortified with electrolytes, high levels of vitamins and trace minerals and Bio-Mos® to help overcome nutritional stress associated with shipping, weaning, rapid growth rates, gestation and lactation. This is an ideal supplement for weaning and receiving calves that are most prone to scours.
These CRYSTALYX® low moisture block supplements containing Bio-Mos® are compatible with most Natural Beef Programs; however, you should always confirm that all ingredients listed on the label are compatible with YOUR chosen Natural Beef Program as programs can vary greatly.
When it comes to low moisture blocks, CRYSTALYX® is the industry standard. Visit www.crystalyx.com or www.bio-mos.com to learn more about these products or call your local CRYSTALYX® representative. You can also download our CRYSTALYX® Body Condition Score app for free on your smart phone. This useful tool can help you monitor BCS as a measure of overall nutritional status in your herd.
Bio-Mos® is a registered trademark of Altech Inc.