ENID, Okla. —
Stocker operators are well aware current strong calf prices equate into a high level of front-end investment for their summer enterprises.
Under these conditions, it may seem the last thing anyone would want to do is spend more money. But when these cattle come off grass at the end of the season, the dollar figure that matters is net profit not the volume of cash flow. Those management strategies that offer a positive payback relative to their cost continue to provide producers with opportunity to maximize their returns.
Implants are a safe, effective technology that typically offer a 10-to-1 return on investment. Research reviews consistently show that implanted stocker cattle will exhibit 10-20 percent greater gains, and utilize their feed 6-8 percent more efficiently. That means more pounds to sell, and less feed to get them there.
Feeding an ionophore is a proven method for improving stocker gains about .15 of a pound per day. The cost of these additives is typically well less than the value of the added weight.
Both internal and external parasites can significantly decrease performance and profitability in a stocker operation. Appropriate programs for addressing these pests often cost much less than the damage they prevent.
Horn flies are a particular problem in stocker cattle, increasing stress, reducing grazing time, and causing blood loss. Studies have shown that horn flies can reduce stocker gains by 14 percent. Control options include insecticidal ear tags, sprays, pour-ons, backrubbers, dust bags, and oral larvicides.
While ear tags can be very effective, they need to be managed properly to avoid resistance problems. The contact products need to be evaluated in terms of labor requirements, animal stress, and the ability to repeat treatment as often as necessary.
Altosid-IGR is an effective feed-through control option for horn flies. It can be provided to stocker cattle in free-choice supplements, minimizing application costs and animal stress. The active ingredient, Methoprene-S, is safe for animals, beneficial insects, humans, and the environment, and does not lead to resistance in the horn fly population.
Internal parasites also drain profits several ways: infected cattle have higher maintenance requirements, reduced appetite, and compromised immune systems. This impact is greatest in young animals, which have not had an opportunity to develop the partial immunity found in most adult cattle. A summary of 17 trials, done in 9 states, showed an average increase in stocker grazing gains of over 35 pounds when animals were strategically dewormed.