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Off to a great start

In agriculture, everything doesn’t always go as planned. Livestock producer Dakota Turley knows this unavoidable truth all too well. The young farmer has seen his fair share of ups and downs since starting his own cattle operation at age 16, and calving season is inevitably one of the most stressful times on his farm in Hartville, Mo.

This fall was no exception. One particularly difficult birth presented an extraor­dinary challenge for Turley Cattle Company, the 220-head Angus-based cow/calf operation that the 30-year-old cattleman runs with his wife, Amanda, and their daughters, Carleigh and Claira.

“I was doing my usual evening routine of feeding and checking heifers when I noticed that there were three missing,” said Turley, who also manages MFA’s fertil­izer plant in Grovespring, Mo. “After a bit of searching, I found them. One heifer had a calf on the ground, and the other two were in labor. I checked on the two again about an hour later. One had calved, but the other heifer had only managed to push out the front two hooves of her calf. I decided it would be best to give her a little more time and to check on her again in an hour.”

After the second check, the calf had not progressed.

“My rule for heifers is if they have not had the calf in two hours, we get them up and pull it,” Turley explained. “That night, I gave this heifer a little longer than I should have.”

Once he got the laboring heifer up and in the chute, the cattleman said he had a bad feeling.

“I knew it had been too long because the calf’s head and tongue were swollen,” Turley recalled. “By the time we pulled the calf, which was larger than I thought, I was sure it would not survive.”

That’s when he remembered a recent conversation with Paul Brune, MFA affiliate livestock specialist. While working cattle together on a neighboring farm, Brune had discussed the benefits of MFA’s Shield Plus, an oral supplement that stimu­lates appetite, provides quick energy and helps develop immunity in newborns and stressed animals.

“Shield Plus contains concentrated colos­trum extract, synbiotics, botanical extracts, fatty acids and vitamins that are essential for a newborn,” Brune said. “Little calves get stressed in the cold temperatures and on the wet ground, so this gives them an energy boost to get up and get milk.”

Though he expected the worst from the struggling calf, Turley said he decided now was the time to put Shield Plus to the test.

“The calf gave a slight twitch of his ear and took a deep breath. So, I grabbed him and held him up for the fluid to drain,” he said. “Based on my experience, anytime I encountered this situation, the outcome was never good. But I ran to the truck and took the Shield Plus off my dash. I gave the calf a dose and left mama to take care of her baby.”

Not able to sleep, knowing that he had a calf in distress, Tur­ley went out about 2 a.m.

“The calf, whose head had been so swollen and his tongue would not stay in his mouth, was over in the corner with mama, nursing away,” he said. “This little calf was supposed to be dead, but he was now up and trying to buck and kick. I know that giving the dose of Shield Plus is what made the difference.”

When MFA introduced Shield Technology in 2015, MFA minerals and feeds were the first to receive the proprietary, research-based blend of essential oils and other additives designed to enhance animal performance and health. Since then, the Shield line has expanded to include a complete selection of products to fit just about any livestock feeding situation.

Shield Plus was added to the offerings in 2017. The all-natural formula contains anti-inflammatory compounds that help reduce fever, botanical extracts with antimicrobial, antifun­gal and antioxidant properties along with probiotics and pre­biotic fiber that provide “good bacteria” to improve gut health. Vitamins A, D and E assist with calcium absorption, protect cells from free radicals and help prevent oxidative stress. And spray-dried egg antibodies combat scours, one of the biggest threats to calf health.

Shield Plus is administered with a convenient dosing syringe or pump bottle, which allows the product to go over the tonsils of the animal and be absorbed immediately, Brune said.

“Best of all, Shield Plus doesn’t require a veterinary feed directive,” he added. “This June, most livestock antibiotics will need a prescription from the veterinarian. By keeping the calf healthier with Shield Plus, there will be less of a need for this.”

For livestock producers, losing a calf takes a toll both finan­cially as well as emotionally. At a cost of about $2 per dose, Turley said the cost-effectiveness of using Shield Plus is a no-brainer. He now gives the supple­ment to every calf born on his farm and has seen improved health throughout his herd.

“Usually in the fall, we have to doctor three or four calves for pneumonia. This, year we doctored zero calves, and I believe it is due to Shield Plus,” he said. “The only thing we’ve changed on the calf side is giving them the Shield Plus at birth. It seems to provide that lit­tle extra that is needed for a healthy start in life.”

For more information on MFA Shield Technology, visit with the livestock ex­perts at your local MFA affiliate or online at mfa-inc.com/Products/Feed/shield.

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