From A to Z: Active cattle are Zancanella’s goal
October 6, 2016
They might not technically be more active, but cattle given Matt Zancanella's product are expected to feel
Why would a professional team roper from South Dakota be involved with a cattle supplement company?
Matt Zancanella says he became enthusiastic about the product nine years ago, after it saved one of his horses that was dying of a digestive tract problem.
Seven years ago he started ProEarth Animal Health as a means to market the all natural product intended for horses and livestock. He said the supplement is designed to eliminate the effects of stress.
Touted as an all-natural antibiotic that "cleans out" bad bacteria during times of stress or illness, the ingredients create a pH in the rumen that encourages proper digestion, he said.
"The ingredients neutralize acid in the stomach. During times of stress like branding, fall vaccinating, weaning, etc. this can be very helpful. Our product is a drench that you put down the throat. We have a three-step program for cow-calf producers. We recommend giving the calf 5 ccs at tagging (soon after birth), 5 ccs at branding, and 10 ccs in the fall when they get their fall vaccinations. We also recommend giving some to the cow at branding time," Zancanella says.
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"The reason we give the tagging dose is that after the calf nurses colostrum and lies down, acidosis starts in the stomach if the calf lies there too long and doesn't get back up to nurse soon enough. Acidosis fuels the bad bacteria," he says.
Acidosis can occur from stress of a difficult birth (and the calf being short on oxygen), or if the calf is chilled at birth, or doesn't nurse on time – and possibly chills, or when a young calf's metabolism is altered due to scours and dehydration.
"At branding, calves are stressed by being branded, castrated, and vaccinated. It's a proven fact that stress reduces effectiveness of vaccination." The immune system is hindered by stress and the animal can't respond appropriately to the vaccination.
"We are finding that no matter how badly stressed those calves are, when you neutralize the acid in the stomach it's like that calf has never been stressed." Zancanella said this allows the vaccination is able to develop the desired immune response.
In the fall, the older calves' rumens are developing. "The fall dose is when we can really see a difference in weight gain. When we wean, vaccinate, etc. and stress those big calves, there will be acid in their system. The rumen will develop more easily and be healthier without that stress and acid," he says.
Zancanella says this is a great product for newly-purchased cattle because they are already likely stressed. "When you bring those cattle into your facility we recommend giving them 10 cc when they come off the truck–on 500 pound calves and above–to neutralize the acid in that calf's stomach. Then those calves go right to feed and water. We also recommend keeping it in the water tank for the first 5 to 10 days they are in the pen, to ensure that every calf is getting a clean drink of water–especially when co-mingling cattle–and to keep the acid down in their stomachs," he says.
"We also recommend using it when treating a sick calf. If he's sick, his stomach is acidic. When treating with antibiotics we cause more acid. Then the calf won't eat or drink. If you give this product along with antibiotics it neutralizes the acid and the calf wants to eat and drink, so the antibiotic works better," he explains.
Drenching cows at branding time can also help improve conception rates, Zancanella said.
"Without the acid, the animal utilizes feed better and gets a burst of energy. It all works to help them start cycling better and they tend to become pregnant on the first or second cycle. We have a lot of ranchers who use it when they bring heifers in to install the CIDRs for heat synchronization, and again when they bring them back for AI. It's been proven that semen can only survive 5 to 7 hours in a stressed environment and can live up to 18 hours in a non-stressed environment. Using this product, we have really good luck when doing AI on heifers," Zancanella says. Conception rates are always better in the non-stressed animal.
"The total cost for the whole program on a cow-calf operation (to drench the cows and the calves) is $6.54 a pair for the whole year. We also provide drench guns for the cattle," he says. For those desiring to treat livestock in large numbers, the product comes in gallon and half gallon jugs.
The ingredients are corn oil, gaur gum, orange extract, onion extract, soybean oil, glycerin, vegetable-based fatty acid, mineral water and water. "We have not been able to pinpoint which ingredients neutralize acid in the stomach, and veterinarians have a hard time putting their minds around why it works, but it does," Zancanella says.
"By dosing cattle at major stress points in their lives, we are getting better health and better weight gain. We have a money-back guarantee on every product we sell, which includes horse products, cattle products, sheep, chicken and pig products. It's all the same, and the only difference is that Equi-Sure is apple flavored and more palatable for the horse," Zancanella says.
"The nice thing about this product for cattle is that you can put it in the water tanks, at a rate of one cc per gallon in the water." A person could keep this in the water tank for several days, such as during weaning for a group of calves.
Healthy calves equals happy customers
Jordon Willis has around 1,600 commercial Angus cows on his southwestern Wyoming ranch. "We've been using this product for three years, giving it to our calves soon after birth—when we tag them and give them some shots—and another round of it at branding, and again in the fall when giving preconditioning shots. It's easy to give because we are handling the calves during those times anyway," he says.
"I don't know if I've seen a bunch of weight gain from it, but our calves have been really healthy. In earlier years, in our baby calves we had a lot of bloat and enterotoxemia problems at about a month old, before we turned them out on summer pasture. Since we've been using this product we haven't had nearly as much problem. I don't know for sure if that's the reason, but the calves have done better," he says.
Willis said he would never stop vaccinating, but that CattleActive can work in conjunction with a good vaccination protocol. "It all works together. If you have a less-stressed, healthier calf, it won't get sick and get set back. Sick calves don't eat as well and won't gain as well," he explains.
Willis only gives it to his calves. "We did an experiment one year on our yearling replacement heifers and didn't see any difference in conception rate or weight gain on them, so we feel it's most beneficial for calves."
Kent Johnson runs cattle in northern Utah near Bear Lake. "We have 550 mother cows and I've been using the CattleActive product for 5 years. I started experimenting with it when it first came on the scene. We used it that first year primarily along with antibiotics when an animal was sick. I had mixed results that year, because we weren't using it the way it was recommended to be used, but it was brand new and we were skeptical. Most ranchers are slow to change and try new things. Every time someone comes out with something they claim is wonderful, we want to make sure it works before we try it for real," says Johnson.
"I probably used it before anyone else because my son-in-law is a dealer for the company. Since that first year I've totally changed my opinion about it. I started using it on our calves at birth, branding, and one time in the fall at weaning, and have definitely had better results. Our calf sickness hasn't completely disappeared but has greatly diminished. This has really lowered our costs. We had a lot of problems with scours in the spring and used to give ScourGuard vaccination to our cows for many years. We were able to quit doing that, and the overall health of the calves is better," he says.
"I've used this product enough years now that I can say it really helps. There are always variables you can't control like weather, feed, what kind of condition cows are in, etc. But using this product the way I do, there are some real benefits," says Johnson. He has less sickness in the calves which equates to better weight gain.
"A lot of people make claims for various products saying it will make calves gain more weight. I would never stick my neck out to say that, but I will say that if a person uses this product the correct way, calves will have better health, and better health means they feel better and eat more, and they put on more weight." You don't have as many calves that are lighter because they were sick, so this brings up the average.
"I've been ranching my whole life. We've seen years when bad winters and bad springs brought a lot of sickness, and those calves never catch up. Prevention is a big deal. If you can keep those calves healthier, there will be fewer calves that won't meet your goals for weight," says Johnson.
"It definitely helps on the baby calves with bloat and enterotoxemia. You can give an antitoxin that helps those calves, but this product helps the gut handle everything better. I always give some to a sick calf as well as at birth and branding. I have never seen a problem with giving too much. By contrast, with antibiotics and other drugs you have to be careful to not overdose–and try to figure out how much the calves weigh, or remember how much you gave them earlier, etc. But this product, even if I've given it several times, I'll give another dose if a calf still has a problem. It's like taking an antacid. It won't hurt you to take more, and it might help!"
"I also use it on my horses. They have a different label (same product) for horses but it's the same thing. I've seen good results with the horses, especially if they are colicky; it's a life-saver for horses. We even take it ourselves, if we have an upset stomach! I am not trying to sell it. If someone wants to use it or not, it doesn't matter to me. But it's definitely helped my program," says Johnson.
Equi-sure for horses – The horse product is becoming popular in the horse industry, especially with the rodeo and barrel horse industry and futurity riders, Zancanella said. Competitions are stressful for horses, and taking young horses to rodeos and competitive events is always hard on them. "Every time we put a horse on a trailer we create acid, and then we take it to the rodeo and that causes more acid," says Zancanella. "Then that night you put the horse back on the trailer to come home and cause more acid. Before you know it the acid level in the stomach is so high that it goes over the protective lining and causes ulcers. The discomfort of ulcers causes horses to be nervous in the roping box or coming into the arena to barrel race," he says.
"When I put my horse on the trailer I can give a dose of Equi-Sure, to neutralize acid. We get to the rodeo 5 or 6 hours later, and give another dose before we run that horse. This keeps nervous horses calm because they are more comfortable," Zancanella says.
"Most gastric colics or ulcer-related colics can be helped by this product. It neutralizes the acid, like a Rolaid for horses. If you go somewhere with a horse and the horse quits eating and drinking, it's usually because the gut hurts. If we can keep the acid level down in the stomach when we are on the road or putting stress on the horses, they also don't get lactic acid buildup," he says.
Equi-Sure for a horse is $2.50 per dose in the small bottle. If you buy it by the larger bottle it is $1.86 per dose. There is a syringe with the small bottle that goes right in the top of the bottle.
Veterinarian's opinion – There are many products and supplements available for calf health, and very few of them have any research or trial evidence to back up their claims, according to Russ Daly, Extension Veterinarian/Professor, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Science, South Dakota State University. "They can be marketed as nutritional supplements and don't have to go through any rigorous research to be sold (unlike vaccines and antibiotics). I don't think this type of product is likely to cause any harm, although they can at times be quite expensive," says Daly.
"In cattle populations, acidosis is more frequently an issue on the feedlot cattle side due to the higher concentration of grain in the diet. In baby calves, acidosis is only an issue for those very young calves going through active scours illnesses. In calves on pasture, or in cows, I'm not sure it enters into the equation all that often," he says.
"This kind of product gets a following because the mindset of many producers is that we just have to get our hands on the right "bottle" and all our health problems will be solved. In reality, most of the animal health challenges we face are multifactorial, needing several different approaches that may or may not include a dose of a supplement or medication," says Daly.