High-performance implants can improve gains in feedlot cattle by 0.8 pounds per day and improve feed conversion by one pound of feed per pound of gain. These performance benefits can translate to as much as $50 per head advantage over non-implanted cattle. But to gain the full benefit of an implant program, feedyard crews need to administer the products correctly.
An on-going survey of implant use conducted by Hoechst-Roussel Vet indicates that improper implanting procedures continue to cause significant losses for cattle feeders. According to 1997 data collected from Midwestern and Southwestern commercial feedyards, 8 percent of cattle are improperly implanted. Abscessed implant sites, resulting from poor sanitation, are the most common problem. Estimated losses due to abscessed sites, crushed pellets and other problems average $18 per head. One percent of cattle in the survey had missing implants, resulting in losses as high as $50 per head. The following procedures can help assure the full performance benefits of implants.
- Clean implant guns and trays prior to use and store implants in a clean, sealed container.
- Keep a tray containing a roller or sponge soaked with a disinfectant solution near the headgate for cleaning the needle between each use.
- Keep a bucket with disinfectant solution and a brush for cleaning soiled ears prior to implanting.
- Assure that each animal is securely restrained in the headgate.
- Place the implant on the caudal side, in the middle one-third of the ear.
- If the needle slips over the surface of the ear, clean it before the next attempt.
- Pinch the injection site closed and palpate the implant to determine proper placement.
- Slow the processing rate to a speed that allows careful implanting.