Representatives from Merck Animal Health discussed implant shortages and introduced a powerful new app for cattle feeders this week during their Cattle Feeders Summit in Denver.

Cattle feeders have been talking and speculating about a growing shortage of growth promoting implants, and Merck Animal Health is the market-share leader in implant products. Jim Miles, the company’s cattle marketing segment leader for feedyards, updated attending cattle feeders on the supply situation.

Miles says that in June 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration temporarily shut down a major supplier of raw ingredients for cattle implants containing trenbolone acetate. That action did not directly affect Merck Animal Health, which purchases ingredients from a different supplier, but it severely slowed or stopped production at other implant manufacturers accounting for about 35 percent of the market. As news of impending shortages spread, distributors and cattle feeders bought ahead, and sales of Merck Animal Health’s popular Revalor 200 product during March 2012 climbed five times over those of the previous March and twice company projections.

The company quickly stepped up production and switched to air freight instead of ships for delivery of raw materials to the manufacturing plant. The company ramped up production shifts, but realized they would not be able to completely make up for the shortfall, and decided to suspend production of some implant lines temporarily. For now, Merck Animal Health is producing Revalor XS, Revalor 200 and Revalor IH, while production is suspended for Revalor G, Revalor IS, Revalor S and Revalor H.

To make the best use of available supplies, Miles recommends cattle feeders use Revalor XS for steers on feed for 130 to 240 days. For steers on feed for less than 130 days and receiving a single implant, he recommends using Revalor 200. For calf-fed cattle on feed for more than 240 days, he recommends an initial implant with Ralgro followed with Revalor XS.

For heifers on feed for less than 130 days, he recommends a single implant using Revalor 200. For heifers on feed for 130 to 240 days, he recommends Revalor IH followed by Revalor 200 as a terminal implant. For light heifers on feed for more than 240 days, use Ralgro followed by Revalor IH and Revalor 200 as the terminal implant.

Meanwhile, the company is working to add manufacturing capacity and secure long-term supplies of raw materials, and eventually plans to reinstate its full line of implant products.

Feedyard Manager Central

In cooperation with Professional Cattle Consultants (PCC), Merck Animal Health also introduced “Feedyard Manager Central,” an app for Android or Apple tablets that provides cattle feeders with a “dashboard” view of performance measures in their yard and comparisons with regional and national benchmarks.

The app compiles information from the feedyard’s record-keeping system on a daily basis, and provides easy viewing of graphs or data showing placements, placement weights, weight distributions, show lists, cost of gain, profit and loss, death loss and other key metrics.

The operator can set customized warning signals, using their own notification thresholds, so the app will alert them if death loss increases for example, or if a pen has received a beta agonist for more than 35 days.

To participate, each feedyard will provide daily records to PCC, which will compile a database of regional and national data. An individual feedyard’s data will however remain completely confidential and available only to that feedyard through the Feedyard Manager Central system. But once the database grows, users will be able to compare their own figures with combined regional or national data for metrics such as cost of gain, dry-matter intake, ration costs, projected show lists, weekly shipment weights, closeout profit and loss and others.

Miles stresses that Feedyard Manager Central will not serve as an analysis program for feedyard management decisions, but rather a means for monitoring trends within the feedyard, quickly identifying problems and comparing performance with national or regional benchmarks.

Interested cattle feeders should contact their Merck Animal Health sales representative.