So, what does it cost? Often, that is the first question producers have when they consider trying a new product or adopting a new technology.
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MFA Shield Technology & Ricochet Minerals
What's that worth?

by Dr. Alan Wessler V.P. Feed Operations & Animal Health

So, what does it cost? Often, that is the first question producers have when they consider trying a new product or adopting a new technology.

When it comes to the benefits of MFA Shield Technology® in MFA feeds and Ricochet minerals, the question should be instead, “What’s that worth?”

Just as the crop farmer strives for higher yields when prices are softer, livestock producers need to look for better efficiencies like a higher percentage calf crop, fewer cases of calf scours, and less respiratory treatment costs, resulting in selling more pounds of beef per acre. More efficient producers will reap the rewards by shooting for those higher yields. MFA Shield Technology® can provide those efficiencies and yields for livestock producers with less dependence on antibiotics and no VFD requirement. These comments directly from MFA customers demonstrate the advantages of using Shield Technology®:

  1. Better fertility. What’s that worth?
    1. “7-12% better conception rates.”
    2. “Over 20 more embryos to sell off two cows, with the addition of Ricochet being the only change.”
    3. “Cycling and AI breeding are much improved. In late August, 100 dairy cows bred by AI out of 102 cows.” (No bull in the herd).
  2. Better immunity. What’s that worth?
    1. “Newborn calves are up and nursing quickly. Good quality and quantity colostrum at the first meal.”
    2. “Fewer calf scours. Greatly reduced the problems that I’ve had.”
    3. “Mastitis incidence reduced with lower somatic cell counts and better-quality milk to sell.”
  3. Better overall health? What’s that worth?
    1. “They’re not standing in the holding pen with their tongues hanging out from the heat and humidity.”
    2. “I had no pinkeye in the herds on Ricochet minerals.”
    3. “I had less pinkeye in the pastures with Ricochet minerals, and the ones that did have pinkeye responded quicker to treatment.”
Increase the herd’s fertility, give calves better immunity and improve overall health. What’s that worth to you?

When mud gets too deep, make mounds

by Dr. Jim White, Director of Livestock Nutrition 

Several years ago, MFA conducted a weaning trial at the former research farm in Marshall, MO. The mud became so deep in the pens that the animals had to be combined and moved. As a result, their performance was 25 percent lower than expected.

As a rough guideline, 4 to 8 inches of mud will reduce feed intake by 15 percent as compared to a mud-free yard. More than 1 foot of mud can reduce intake by 30 percent. Calves will seldom gain enough weight when losing that much feed intake, given that at least 60 percent of intake is used for maintenance.

Usually, a pen needs a slope of 3 to 5 percent to ensure adequate drainage and decrease mud buildup. Mounds should be high, dry and tied into concrete aprons and waterers, providing cattle the opportunity to eat, sleep and drink without walking through mud. Mounds also provide some protection from the wind in the winter, but more importantly they reduce the negative effects of mud.

Reducing mud and providing a covered area in the pen also help animals stay thermoneutral, which means they don’t have to expend energy to maintain normal body temperature. Hair provides insulation by trapping air close to the hide and decreasing heat loss from the body. Moisture, mud or manure results in a matted hair coat, which has much less insulation value. When wet, animals are considered thermoneutral at an ambient temperature of 60 degrees. With a dry hair coat, the same animal may be thermoneutral if it is 20 degrees.

Consider the limitations of jumping through mud. If it is too much of a struggle, cattle will skip trips to feed and water and performance will suffer.

Adam Shetley co-owns Little Grassy Dairy in Fredricktown, Mo. He operates an intensive rotational grazing dairy and milks 35 cows per day. His cows are strictly grazed, but Shetley supplements their diet with MFA’s Ricochet Mineral with Shield Technology®. “We’re milking an average of 55 lbs a day per head,”

Shetley said. “And we’re getting around 1,800 lbs a day total. That’s with around 4% butterfat and 3.6-3.7 protein.” Shetley goes on to say he’s also experiencing great somatic cell counts with SHIELD. “I think the lowest somatic cell pick up I had was 28,000 and that was with zero plate count and zero PI,” Shetley said. 

To hear Shetley's story go to:
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