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Working Ranch - March 2018

Editor’s message Imagine, if you will, Dear Reader…we are at ‘the game’. Actually, this event is happening in the rumen of a stressed feeder animal or young calf, so humor me here. Everything in a typical ‘game’ harmonizes together to make it all work; the players, hot dog vendors, marching bands, ticket booth attendants, parking lot crew, EMT’s, security, referees, announcers, military, media and the fans. This analogy I have so generously concocted represents all the diverse microbiota and elements that make up the warm, moist and very active rumen environment that keeps the stressed feeder critter or young calf on its feet. Now…let’s take this functioning but stressed rumen and make it even better. Probiotics are itty-bitty living critters that are like a team of all-star athletes that run out onto the fi eld (introduced in the feed) and take control. If the conditions are right they can transform a mediocre game (the stressed but functioning rumen) and supercharge it into a top-draw event where the scoreboard goes wild. A regular season yawner now becomes the BIG GAME! Prebiotics are not live critters. They are non-digestable sugars, and though probiotics love to eat them, some prebiotics act like Security Guards at the BIG GAME. They latch onto nasty organisms like E. Coli and Salmonella present in the rumen and escort them out of the stadium (carry them out of GI tract). See how that works now? Probiotics up the level of the game, Prebiotics fuel the all-star team while protecting the game from unwanted attendees, and the crowd goes wild (because the calf performs better). You’re welcome, Tim SHUTTERSTOCK.COM From Yawner to “The BIG GAME” IN THE “FIGURING OUT” STAGE John Richeson, Ph.D., who conducts feedlot trials at West Texas A&M University, says the recent VFD was a major signal for the cattle industry to consider antibiotic alternatives. It has been a struggle to fi nd a probiotic that is a direct replacement for some of the feedyard antibiotics previously used to promote feed effi ciency and increased performance. “There are yeast and bacterial probiotic products available and many different species within those,” Richeson explains. “There are different times of application, duration of application and concentration to consider. I think the industry is still trying to fi gure out which probiotic strategies are the most effi cacious.” What are the appropriate concentrations and feeding durations? “Obviously, there are key times during the beef production process where physiological stress, nutritional stress and pathogen pressure is greater,” Richeson explains. “A lot of the research has been aimed at evaluating probiotic supplementation during those key times, but then some companies recommend providing their probiotic throughout the entire feeding period. We don’t exactly know yet what the best probiotic strains might be, the appropriate timing and duration of feeding and concentration. Research is still needed to refi ne probiotic supplementation.” In Richeson’s extensive feedyard experience, it has been challenging to clearly show probiotic effectiveness in the commercial feedyard setting. He has had good responses in some cases and no responses in others. It is possible to feed a probiotic at a greater concentration or for too long a period, resulting in undesirable enteric infl ammation in some cases. How can feedyard managers get optimum benefi ts from probiotics? “Just as they normally would with any product, ask to see what research has been done because there are a lot of different products available,” Richeson advises. “Not all probiotics are created equal. There can be big differences of effi cacy between two different products. The only way to differentiate that is to evaluate the research.” One area where probiotics often display positive results is when they are provided to commercially fed cattle during heat stress and/or beta-agonist feeding periods. Richeson encourages feedyard managers to plan for heat stress during hot summer months and beta-agonist feeding periods by providing a probiotic in preparation for those events. “I think the industry is really pulling for probiotics to work,” Richeson explains. “We need to continue to research and fi ne-tune the feeding regimen with probiotics and discover which strains are the most effi cacious. There could be different areas of application, where one strain works well for newly received cattle and another strain for mitigating the impacts of heat stress. We are defi nitely pulling for them to work, because we need non-antimicrobial tools in our toolbox to reduce antimicrobial use in the industry.” MARCH 2018 I WORKING RANCH I 37


Working Ranch - March 2018
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