A natural approach
November 27, 2018
Achieving herd health seems to be an ever revolving goal. When calves are born it is a priority to get them colostrum, the catalyst for proper immune function. During the summer months it's foot-rot and parasites about which producers have to be cognizant. Then comes the stressful season — weaning — and the cycle continues.
For Jesse and Charity Crump of Crump Red Angus a new approach to over-all animal health came by way of apple cider vinegar. Having built a reputation for his innovative ideas in farming and cattle production Jesse Crump is not afraid to consider the areas of potential improvement in his cow herd and then seek out a better solution. That was the case with apple cider vinegar.
Crump said he first became interested in using the product for animal health after learning all of the benefits it offered humans. "The knowledge of health benefits for humans made me curious about researching ACV in the cattle industry. To my surprise many dairies and feedlots were implementing ACV in their feed rations with endless success stories."
For years ACV has been known to be somewhat of a cure-all for humans and its benefits for cattle, from gut health to meat quality, are extensive as well.
The primary reason ACV is fed to cattle is to level PH and boost digestion. ACV is essentially acetic acid, one of the drivers of growth hormones and a vital acid that ruminants rely on to have adequate energy. This acid is also essential in producing milk fat and lactose, the milk's sugar. Dry pastures and hay, like are so often the case for operations like Crump Red Angus located in the arid northeast Wyoming, convert their digestible fiber into lignin dropping the potential for that forage to produce milk and butterfat. ACV solves this problem as well. Due to its acidic nature, apple cider vinegar negates bloat and acidosis allowing for more efficient digestion and growth. It also contains probiotics and small amounts of minerals including; sodium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium as well as vitamins including; B1, B2, B6 and C. ACV also contains high levels of malic acid, the liver detoxifier.
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Another benefit ACV-fed herds experience is parasite control. Crump relayed that as their experience. "Our main drive to implement ACV in our bull development ration was a rumen buffer to help fight acidosis and balance PH but to our satisfaction the bulls and heifers on development did not get ring worm. The second health benefit we encountered was the bulls were not rubbing like they normally have in past years which eventually led to half as much pour on making ACV even more cost effective than we predicted."
Apple Cider Vinegar generally can be ordered in 55 gallon barrels or 275 gallon totes and can be administered in a mixed feed ration or in water tanks. The Crumps have found success in administering ACV to all animals in development. "We feed 6 oz. a day to the cattle during the first 30 days of weaning stress and then 3 oz. from then on. The ACV is fed in a mixed ration, but one of our biggest successes with the product is mixing it in the water tanks at weaning. Mixing a 5 gallon bucket in the water twice a day at weaning has reduced the stress in our calves by keeping them more hydrated." Surprisingly it's not just the Crumps that like the idea of ACV, the calves enjoy it too. "The cattle love the taste of the water (with ACV). At weaning we had a pen with two water tanks in it we put ACV in one tank and left the other one alone. The bawling calves primarily drank from the tank with the ACV."
Producers may have concerns regarding rising input costs in the beef industry producers and must consider if the cost-to-benefit ratio is there for apple cider vinegar. For anyone who has been in the business long they know from experience that the cost associated with the loss of one calf at weaning or that of standard antibiotics, reaching nearly $5.00/cc, as well as the monetary losses caused by animals with digestive disturbance and they'll be quick to determine that a natural boost to immunity and digestion is a no-brainer. Apple cider vinegar usually runs $4.00-5.00/gallon and is delivered by pallet.
The Crumps don't rely solely on ACV to cure all of their herd's ailments. They follow a strict vaccine protocol, use a robust mineral plan and ensure that nutrition is beyond satisfactory.
In an industry where making every dollar count matters, the economic benefits of improved health found by using apple cider vinegar could make the difference in some operations. For others, the peace of mind knowing that an all-natural solution to problems traditionally addressed with ramped up vaccinations will be enough to have apple cider vinegar coming soon to a cow tank near you. F