Folks, there is a reason we use implants in our cattle. We want to provide the best product possible.

It’s simple and profitable
According to David Lalman, Oklahoma State University extension beef cattle specialist, implants cost approximately $1 to $2 per head and will typically increase weaning weight by about 20 pounds. “Therefore, in today’s market implanting can be a very simple, yet profitable management practice,” he added.

Timing is everything
Justin Sexten, state beef extension specialist at the University of Missouri, suggests cow-calf producers considering implants should consider implanting as a lifetime process. This process should start at 30 to 45 days of age through finishing.
Lalman added that implants are the most productive when cattle are growing rapidly. “Payout periods for implants approved for use in grazing cattle are around 100 to 120 days,” he said. “Therefore, implanting nursing calves at branding time, or stocker cattle just ahead of spring grass is ideal. When stocker cattle are ‘dry wintered’ with a targeted weight gain of one pound per day or less, implants are not as effective.”

Match product to purpose
“Matching implant type with nutrition and stage of production results in most effective gain,” Sexten said. “In most cases proper implant use offers economic return on investment of 10 to 1.”
In addition, certain products are approved for nursing calves while others can only be used in cattle weighing over 400 pounds. “Be sure to identify the most appropriate product for each situation,” Lalman said.

Clearing the air
“I’d say the most common mistake is not implanting at all,” Lalman said. “Yes, some producers consciously choose to target premiums for cattle that can be marketed as ‘all natural’ and therefore do not implant.”
According to Sexten, “implants are a fairly underutilized bit of technology.”
When considering implants one common producer concern relates to replacement heifers. Sexten recommends implanting just the late born heifers. “They are lighter weight, so they will benefit the most from added weight gain,” he added. “Heifers born early in the calving season are the most productive and are more likely to be retained as replacements.”
Some producers are worried about the calf not grading as well. “Reduction in quality grade occurs when aggressive implants are used at times when nutrition will not support increased gain,” Sexten added.
Sexten concluded by clarifying that if producers don’t have the facilities to work the calves properly, this can also be a big factor causing producers not to use implants. “Producers need adequate facilities to hold a calf’s head while the implant is placed in the middle third of the ear.” He also suggested making sure the ear is clean and implants are not inserted into a blood vessel.

Producers should contact their regional extension livestock specialist or local veterinarian for specific questions.


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