When you are raising cattle, what you feed them can make a significant difference in their overall health and possibly influence what you earn from meat and dairy sales. Supplementing your cattle's diet with probiotics can be the right option for a healthier heard.
Reducing Antibiotic Usage
The use of antibiotics in meat and dairy are highly contested, often due to fears of increased antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the possibility of hormonal changes in humans. Therefore, more people are choosing meat and dairy from animals that have been raised without the use of antibiotics. Probiotics can be a reasonable substitute when you are avoiding antibiotics for your cattle. Although probiotics may not help with an active infection, the goal is to improve gut flora and minimize the chance of common gastrointestinal illness and improve the overall health of your cattle. Just like in humans, reducing the amount of antibiotics you use in cattle can mean antibiotics will be effective if they experience an infection.
Starting With Healthy Calves
Calves can be especially vulnerable to serious illness. Their immune system has to strengthen, so any infection at an early age is more likely to be detrimental. Ideally, you should supplement their milk with probiotics to prevent illness and make it easier for them to establish normal gut flora. Another type of supplement that may be especially important for calves is the use of prebiotics. Adding prebiotics acts as a food source for the probiotics you use. This may be more important in calves since prebiotics contain carbohydrates they may not consume in their normal milk-based diet. Adding prebiotics allows the probiotic organisms to survive longer and actually have an opportunity to become established in the intestines.
Minimizing Disease Outbreaks
The illness of one animal can be problematic and a significant financial burden, but the worst-case scenario is significant disease outbreak that affects the entire heard. Although the benefit of probiotics can affect a single animal, keeping all your animals supplemented with probiotics can minimize the chances of a single episode of illness spreading to all the animals. Since it is nearly impossible to contain an outbreak, especially since all animals live in close quarters and an illness may be advanced before you notice symptoms, you are in a better position by preventing illness in the first place. Disease outbreaks can be financially catastrophic for those who rely on cattle for their livelihood, especially if adult animals die or are too ill to ever be sold.
Although you cannot prevent all illnesses in cattle, improving their health from birth is a start. Consider adding probiotic cattle feed supplementation at all stages of development for your cattle.