Today’s consumers are more aware than ever before. They want to know where their food comes from, how it was raised and if it is safe and wholesome for the entire family. Consumers value words like all-natural, hormone-free and antibiotic-free. The beef industry has responded with branded programs to meet consumers’ demands. The goal: all-natural cattle.
Although livestock producers have always made livestock care and handling their number one commitment, the methods they use have shifted due to some of the branded programs like “Verified Natural Beef” and “Certified Natural Beef.”
Fortunately for beef producers, there are all-natural ways to keep cattle healthy while growing safe, healthy beef that is “natural” and will qualify for natural beef programs.
Defining Natural Beef
According to the USDA, all fresh meat qualifies as natural. Products labeled as natural have no artificial ingredients or added colors and can only be minimally processed.
“Minimal processing” means that after production, the product’s nutritional value or composition was not fundamentally altered. In short, no unexpected chemicals or additives were introduced between production and the grocery aisle.
The label for these products must also include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural (such as “no artificial ingredients; minimally processed”).
However, consumer demand has taken that one step further to indicate that they want naturally raised beef. This is where the difference lies. Naturally raised meat is a marketing claim. It indicates that livestock used for the production of meat and meat products have been raised entirely without additional growth promotants. Additionally, they were not given any antibiotics (except for ionophores as coccidiostats for parasite control) or animal by-products (no longer a common practice).
Good Nutrition Leads the Way
To ensure the consumer gets the natural beef they are seeking, the producer needs to start with a healthy, efficient calf. We know that 70% of the immune response starts in the digestive tract, so if we can keep that calf’s gut healthy, we can keep the calf healthy.
Gain Smart® is a line of vitamin and mineral supplements for stocker cattle that promotes healthy, economical pounds. All Gain Smart products contain AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility. It is research-proven to promote calf health and vigor and stimulate digestion and nutrient absorption of forage for optimum gain.
Producers who feed Gain Smart, will not only keep their calves gaining more efficiently; they also typically have to treat for less sickness. This keeps them eligible for naturally raised marketing programs, and those programs offer premiums.
Naturally Raised Value-added Programs
Today, producers are receiving added premiums for keeping their cattle healthy the “natural” way by enrolling them in one of several value-added programs available to them. Superior Livestock Auctions, a leader in livestock marketing, offers several value-added marketing programs to the producer.
Calves in these programs are only fed one of the two high-quality minerals.
“One of the main things [the buyers] look at is the health program cattle are on. Just as important is their nutrition program. If they have a good nutrition program, their health program will work twice as well. Buyers and sellers are actively looking for that as they recognize the value of it,” said Ty de Cordova, Superior Livestock, who believes in and promotes the value of a high-quality nutrition program.
Gain Smart Offers Value to Seller and Buyer
The calves that sell on the Gain Smart program offer more value to the seller from a monetary standpoint. They can also help the seller stay eligible for other value-added programs. How? Because the mineral keeps the cattle healthy, decreasing the need to ever medicate calves.
For the Superior Certified-Natural program, the seller states the cattle have never received hormones, antibiotics or animal by-products. The Superior Verified-Natural program is a process-verified program, audited by a third party. In this program, cattle are free from antibiotics, growth promotants or any type of animal by-product.
“Where the Gain Smart program helps the most is with the verified-natural and certified-natural programs,” de Cordova said. “The verified-natural guys will be able to use the nutrition program to keep cattle in natural programs. And the feedlot guys will gravitate to the nutrition program because they know they’ll receive healthier cattle. The Vita Charge® Stress Tubs and Drench encourage calves to go straight to water. This helps reduce stress and the need to doctor those calves. That keeps them in the natural programs.”
In an era where people know what they want, the Gain Smart mineral line is a win for all. It helps create healthy calves that qualify for value-added programs for the producer, putting added dollars back into their program. The feeder gets to feed healthier calves that qualify for naturally raised programs. And the consumer can rest assured that they are buying the safest, most delicious beef for their family. That’s why Gain Smart is the smartest choice when feeding cattle.
Get Yours Today
Do you want to be able to keep your calves in the naturally raised beef niche with the goal of receiving a premium? You can find your Gain Smart mineral at a BioZyme dealer near you.
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