Pounds on the Ground
Keep calves gaining, growing with Safe-Guard® from Merck Animal Health.
Jamie Nelson stands ready at the head of a squeeze chute in the brisk Kansas breeze. It’s morning in the Flint Hills, and time to work weaned calves.
Nelson teams with his father-in-law, Jeff Sowder, to operate Black Gold Cattle Co., near Toronto, Kan., and while the morning’s work is routine, it’s never dull.
“A good year for us, I believe, is won in small battles,” Nelson says. “We take it step-by-step, and day-by-day. If we can get those calves in here, get them weaned and growing, that’s just a little battle that we’ve won.”
Black Gold’s success lies in its routine.
Every day, they saddle the horses and get to work managing the 1,000-head cow herd, which is Red Angus and Simmental-based. Nelson’s intuition is strong, as he monitors animal health, growth and performance.
“It’s all about pounds on the ground,” he explains. “In the commercial cow business, we raise and sell pounds.”
Central to that mission is the native tallgrass prairie; thousands of acres of productive land found uniquely in eastern Kansas.
Cows and calves graze pasture for most of the summer, then are fed supplemental range cubes and hay for the remainder of the year.
Once weaned, calves are brought into feeding pens and conditioned for future success in the feedyard. They are run through the chute, vaccinated and treated with a dewormer.
Nelson chooses Safe-Guard from Merck Animal Health.
“It’s all about the pounds on the ground. In the commercial cow business, we raise and sell pounds.”
— Jamie Nelson, Black Gold Cattle Company, Kansas
“If you don’t deworm, you’re missing the boat. Those worms are taking profit out of your pocket, because you’re not getting near the gain,” Nelson says. “I can get these calves to run about three to four pounds of gain per day. If I didn’t deworm them, I might be getting one to two.”
In other words, it’s what you can’t see that may cause the most damage — and the greatest losses.
Internal parasites, like worms, directly affect an animal’s immune response. This limits their nutrient intake including protein, energy, minerals and vitamins, causing limited growth and decreased weight gain.
It can be the difference between selling a 700-pound (lb.) calf, when you could be marketing a 900-lb. calf, Nelson explains.
“In the last few years of using Safe-Guard, my calves have gone right to the bunk and started eating,” he says. “They’re gaining weight right off the bat. The quicker I get these calves gaining weight, the better off I am.”
Back at the chute, Nelson demonstrates how to administer Safe-Guard using the drench formula.
“Safe-Guard is just easy in my world,” he says. “We used to use a pour-on, and a pour-on is easy, but so is oral deworming. The drench tool is easy to run, it’s fast and we can see the performance.”
Variety and Convenience
Safe-Guard is a time-tested and proven tool for controlling internal parasites within the cow herd. And it’s cost efficient.
Feedlot studies show adding Safe-Guard’s oral drench at an average cost of $1.50-$1.80 per head returned an additional $17.18 per head through improved gains. This results in a 10-to-1 return on investment over a 160-day feeding period.
Nelson’s own testimony shows how true this really is: “We’ve seen a great response in these cattle since we’ve started using Safe-Guard,” he says. “They go right to feed, and in our operation, trying to get cattle backgrounded, it has helped us tremendously.”
Black Gold Cattle Co. relies on Safe-Guard not only for its effectiveness and ease of use, but also because of its wide variety of formulations. It can be used both chute-side and out on the pasture, and can be applied via blocks, minerals or other formulations. This leads to effective, season-long parasite control.
Whether it’s treating the calves, cows or bulls, Safe-Guard’s variety and convenience is unmatched by other cattle dewormers. In the winter months, Nelson says they’ve applied Safe-Guard as a way to get cows in top condition prior to calving.
“Everyone knows once they drop that calf, all the feed you’re giving them goes right into milk production,” he says. “After using the Safe-Guard cubes, we saw pretty good weight gain on those cows prior to calving, which is what we are after.”
Not only can Safe-Guard be applied in a myriad of ways throughout any season, it also proves its effectiveness inside the animal. It goes straight to the gut, eliminating parasites more rapidly than other dewormers — one day versus seven to 14 for competing products.
By deworming strategically based on the worm life cycle, cattlemen and dairy farmers can reduce the burden in their animals. For Nelson, this means adequate gains and getting the most out of his feed.
Most of all, it means improving business profitability and protecting his cherished way of life.
“I’m hoping that in the next 50 years, I’m sitting on the porch and watching my kids take care of the ranch,” Nelson says. “As a dad, my favorite time is when you’re headed out across these pastures on a nice day and you have your three kids in tow. It doesn’t get any better than that.”