October 2017
Feeding Facts

Talking Supplements

Supplements are a topic often discussed in both human digestive health and in the livestock feed world. There are more things today we can use to add pounds and improve health in our herds and flocks than ever before. Many of them make sense and are very cost effective with the added weight and decreased sickness seen in available research. I have seen remarkable research on one or two electrolyte packages that fight heat stress and help animals to grow and to breed during challenging times for Southeastern producers. I am also beginning to see research showing a very significant reduction in sickness among stocker cattle when fed certain pro- and prebiotics.

For years, we have been able to add things such as killed yeast products and see a clear advantage in production. The advantage more than paid for the cost of the added yeast. We have also seen good results from adding a live yeast culture to the higher-end feeds. Not only do the animals grow faster and more efficiently but we see a good deal less sickness. Recent research has shown finishing cattle will have a much lower incidence of E. coli in their digestive tract when supplemented with certain strains of live yeast culture, essentially making an already-safe product even safer for the end consumer.

We have had the ability to use products to help bind aflatoxins in feed products and make the end product safer for animals. We have been using these for several years and, even when toxins have been an issue in surrounding states, we have been fortunate to have found and used a product that worked.

We will continue to search for better ways to add value to our feed and help add dollars to your bottom line with the addition of safe, effective supplements that are so convenient that you, as producers, will see the benefits, but likely never know the supplements are there.

As we listened to the needs of our customers and searched for additional ways to help, we added a really effective product this fall. ShowBloom is a supplement that can be added to your current feed to get better health and growth advantage. By adding the ShowBloom line, we also added one of their yeast products that will likely find its way into several of our other feeds to give our customers a clear advantage in growth and health, without significant additions in cost of production.

The ShowBloom product is obviously aimed at the show livestock industry. It has been around for many years and has a long and proven track record for adding pounds and bloom to show animals. Fortunately, now it will be available through your local Quality Co-op. You can see the added results without the hassle and expense of having it shipped. It is one of the supplemental products that truly works well.

As the county fair season slows down, I thought we should take a quick look at some of the other supplements used for a variety of reasons. The smaller county fairs are mostly done. Now, the larger state and regional-type shows get wound up and the youth who show livestock a bit more seriously will begin to look for advantages wherever they can. There are supplements available for almost anything that ails your critter. You can add more gut, slim down the deep-gutted ones, add hair here and slim them up there, make them walk more easily, pump them up like little Arnold Schwarzeneggers, make them gain weight, hold them back so that they don’t gain weight but still look fresh, and on and on and on. All of these things have a place I guess, but I would urge you to be cautious with what you use and how you use it. Some of the supplements come with a cost far greater than what you paid for the pail. I have seen plenty of animals that would have likely gone on to be productive females rendered sterile by certain supplements when fed off-label. I have also seen some top-notch animals that have gone home and died, most likely from side effects of some of these magic powders. Use caution, follow the directions and don’t go off-label. It is illegal to use many of these products in ways not on the label; so read the label and follow the instructions.

Now, off my soapbox and on to good show feeds. I have been asked to look through and revamp the show feed formulas. As I look through the ones we have offered at the Co-ops, I see some changes that should be made. By the time this article prints, we should have a line that will help you be more competitive. In making these changes, we will be using a variety of supplements and, in doing so, we will have some of them available for adding to the current feeds we already make. Hopefully, we will continue to find ways to make the show line and the supplements benefit many of the producers who use Co-op feeds.


Jimmy Parker is AFC’s animal nutritionist.