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 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Beef Management Tips: Growth Promotant Implants

Livestock Update, June 1999

Bill McKinnon, Virginia Tech

Growth promotant implants are one of the most cost effective management practices available to beef producers. Most implants cost $1 or less per head and generally increase the rate of gain in growing cattle by 9% to 15%. This increase can mean an additional 20 to 30 pounds of gain.

Fort Dodge Animal Health conducted a feedlot audit of implants during 1996 and 1997. The audit classified 6% of the implants as problem implants. The problems included abscessed implants sites, missing implants, and improperly placed implants such as bunching or crushing of pellets or pellets placed in the cartilage. The most frequently detected problem was abscessed implant site.

Producers need to use care when implanting to be as sanitary as possible to avoid introducing organisms at the implant site which can lead to infections. Infections at the implant site can cause abscesses that may reduce the effectiveness of the implant. A Kansas State University study looked at the reduced efficacy of implants with abscessed implant sites. The average daily gain and feed efficiency of heifers with abscessed implant sites were reduced 8.9% and 8.3%, respectively, during a 91-day feeding period when compared to normal implants. In the Kansas State study abscessed implant sites reduced the economic return by $17.70 per head. Implant gun needles should be disinfected between each head. Specially designed implant trays are available, but a simple paint roller tray and a small sponge soaked with a disinfectant such as Nolvasan or alcohol will suffice.

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