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ProTernative helps to relieve BRD stress

ProTernative helps to relieve BRD stress

Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is a leading cause of sickness and death in feedlot cattle. In Australia, it is estimated that BRD is responsible for 64% of morbidity and illnesses. Besides having a direct impact on animal health, BRD can quickly overwhelm livestock and economic performance.

Stress is a precursor to BRD. Recent-arrived cattle are subject to a range of stresses during transport and induction; as they adjust to unfamiliar surroundings and new pen mates; and as they transition from a forage-based diet to a concentrate-based diet. While these challenges are largely unavoidable, steps can be taken to support immune function, particularly against BRD.

The lower gut helps to power the day-to-day immune function and health of any animal. It hosts a robust and dynamic bacterial community that help the animal to promote a positive, systemic immune response. With the help of these microbes, the lower gut of cattle can signal the rest of the body to promote the production of antibodies to fight disease challenges.

Probiotic live yeasts (also called direct-fed microbials) are a relatively recent addition to the arsenal against bovine respiratory disease complex (BRD). One such example is ProTernative, which contains the strain-specific live yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae boulardii CNCM I-1079. ProTernative has been scientifically proven to maintain a beneficial microbial population in the rumen, thereby promoting feed intake, improving growth rates and boosting immune function.

A recent U.S. study evaluated the impact of ProTernative upon the incidence of BRD and livestock performance under commercial feedlot conditions. A total of 1,274 heifers (average 248 kg liveweight) with unknown health, vaccination and nutrition history were purchased from regional saleyards over a two month period.

Heifers were randomly assigned to two treatment groups. The first group was fed a ration that contained ProTernative in accordance with the label directions for the first 45 days on feed. ProTernative was removed for the remainder of the feeding period (average 232 days). The second group were fed the same yeast-free ration throughout the feeding period.

The two groups were then consigned to 16 pens, ranging from 80 to 100 head per pen. Heifers were fed twice daily throughout the study. All cattle received the same induction program, including vaccination, a metaphylaxis antibiotic therapy and implanting. Animal health was evaluated by pen riders daily.

In this study, cattle fed ProTernative had 28.4% lower incidence of BRD in the first 45 days on feed (P<0.01).1 The beneficial effect on the immune system remained in place after the probiotic was removed from the ration. There was numerical reduction in overall mortality and total ‘outs’ (i.e. deads plus other cattle removed from the pen) in the ProTernative group.

Cattle fed ProTernative recorded 4.5% higher average daily gain (P=0.05) and 5% improved feed conversion (P=0.02) than the control group, resulting in a 4.7% lower cost of gain (P=0.04).2 There was minimal difference in the dry matter intake between the two groups.1 These benefits to translated into improved carcase quality, with cattle fed ProTernative having a 45.9% lower incidence of A+ liver abscesses and a 9.7% higher incidence of grading USDA Choice.1

These results can be generalised to grassfed cattle. Supporting immune function early in the feeding program helps to avoid illness and keep calves in peak health. A sound animal health program, adequate nutrition and good management are all critical for powering the immune system.

Besides boosting the availability of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals required for muscle growth, frame development and ongoing beef and milk production, supplementary rations are an excellent vehicle for adding probiotics that help support the lower gut of the animal.

1. Theurer, M.E., et al. (2019). Effect of live yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae boulardii CNCM I-1079) feed additive on health and growth parameters of high-risk heifers in a commercial feedlot. The Bovine Practitioner, 53(2), 117-127.

Published Dec 1, 2022