Cattle Health: Rumensin

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We want to be clear that the health and well-being of our animals is our farm’s top priority.  The health of our cows is directly related to the health of our business, but it’s more than that... we feel a huge responsibility to produce healthy beef in a sustainable way.  We are just one of many producers that are directly invested in the beef we produce… and in a significant way, you are invested too.  

We know you care about the nutritional value of your food and we know you care about the health of the animals who provide your protein.  For this reason, we want to share exactly why we have started feeding a supplement known as Rumensin.

What is Rumensin?  Rumensin is the name-brand version of the generic food additive known as monensin.  Monensin is an ionophore that was first created in 1979 and has been used with great success in the cattle industry ever since. 

Ionophores do a couple important things for cattle:

  1. Increase feed efficiency.
  2. Prevent digestive issues.

  3. Prevent coccidiosis. 

Feed Efficiency

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Feed efficiency is a measure of how well an animal digests its food and uses the nutrients for growth.  Cows have much to gain from getting the most out of the food they eat.  Cows that are more able to maintain a healthy weight are more likely to conceive and give birth to healthy calves.  Those calves will drink milk that is nutrient rich, because their mothers will have the nutrients to spare.  Young cattle that get more from their diet will have stronger immune systems and will easily maintain healthy growth.  All of these factors contribute to a strong beef industry, which directly relates to a stable and economical food supply. 

Digestive Issues

Cattle have complex stomachs.  The bacteria and pH in their gut create a delicate environment that we do our best to maintain.  A balanced diet goes a long way, but Rumensin will go the extra mile.  This ionophore helps create an environment that supports good bacteria and decreases the likelihood of bloat and acidosis. This is especially true for cattle eating nutrient-dense diets like wheat pasture and grain.

Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is a disease caused by the parasitic protozoa called Coccidia.  Coccidia can be found in most mature cattle, but generally do not affect older cows that are well nourished.  In younger animals that have not built up a resistance, these parasites can cause serious problems.  Coccidia burrow into their intestinal walls, sometimes causing damage that the calf will never recover from.  This gut destruction can keep the calf from absorbing the nutrients and water it needs to survive.  Often times this leads to diarrhea, dehydration, fever, and even seizures.  Some calves die from the illness itself.  Others die when their weakened immune systems allow pneumonia to set in.  Any way you look at it, coccidiosis is the enemy of calves and producers alike.  We are taking proactive measures to keep this illness at bay.  Our first line of defense is giving our cows plenty of room to keep the calves from ingesting many of the Coccidia that is “passed” from the mature cows.  Our backup defense is feeding Rumensin to all our young stock.  Rumensin will kill Coccidia at three different life stages to stop the life cycle and prevent further damage.  After 35 years of feeding this ionophore in the beef industry, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that Rumensin has lost any of its potency.  Furthermore, there is no evidence that feeding Rumensin affects the nutritiousness of the meat itself.

The health benefits alone make feeding Rumensin a no-brainer for our farm, but let’s go one step further.  

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Does efficiency matter?

Yes, absolutely yes.  If producers and consumers team up to support practices that maximize efficiency, we will be helping the world in two significant ways.  By maximizing feed and health efficiency, our cows can produce more with less.  By shrinking the land space and nutrients needed to produce the same amount of beef, we are reducing our environmental footprint without sacrificing the world’s supply of beef.  At the same time, added efficiency puts downward pressure on beef prices.  Families of all kinds benefit from reducing the price of healthy protein.  

It takes communication, education, and innovation on all sides to create a sustainable world.  As producers, we take efficiency and animal health very seriously.  We are taking proactive steps to benefit our animals and our customers.  One way we are doing this is by adding Rumensin to our herd’s diet.

 

Welcoming all questions and comments!

M

I am not a veterinarian or an animal nutritionist. I am simply a producer researching what is best for my animals and reporting the facts I found. You can check out my sources here:

 https://www.elanco.us/BBU/USBBURUM00149(1)-Rumensin-Stocker-Cattle-Detailer.pdf

http://www.merckvetmanual.com/digestive-system/coccidiosis/coccidiosis-of-cattle

http://www.beefmagazine.com/calving/calving-tips-diagnosing-and-treating-coccidiosis-calves

http://beefextension.com/research_reports/1998rr/27.html