An all-natural oregano oil feed additive product is gaining popularity in Canada as a health and performance booster for calves.
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DOSTO Caps are designed to support calf health and performance while mitigating disease risk. The health tool was featured at the recent Beef Industry Convention in London last month.
“(Beef producers) don’t have a lot of tools. So, when we get these tools available, we have to adopt them,” said Sabrina Zettell, CBS Bio Platforms Canadian technical manager.
“Waiting until something goes away or something else comes up is sometimes just not an option.”
Zettell said oregano oil is highly antibacterial and can help a calf overcome scours caused by E. coli or salmonella.
Why it matters: Beef cow-calf producers have few preventive tools for calf scours.
“There is also a bit of data that suggests it’s helpful towards crypto (cryptosporidium, a zoonotic pathogen), which is a big deal for some calves we’re dealing with now.”
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A 2018 Ontario cow-calf survey presented by Dr. Julia Stewart at the 2023 Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week Beef Day showed scours are the leading cause of death in calves born to both heifers and cows, at 52 and 31 per cent, respectively.
“It’s clear it’s still an issue. Calf scours isn’t going to go away,” said Stewart, an associate veterinarian at Miller Veterinary Service.
“It’s important to prevent these deaths rather than to take that loss on that calf and take that loss on your weaning weights if they do recover.”
She said calves treated for scours often show reduced performance compared to those that did not have scours.
“It’s very important that you prevent those cases as much as possible,” Stewart said.
Zettell is confident DOSTO Caps could change the landscape regarding antimicrobial use in calves, especially because they can be administered almost from birth, whether or not the calf is on feed.
DOSTO Caps have a 36-month shelf life and, at approximately $4 per bolus, are a Veterinary Health Products-approved option to optimize gut health.
Zettell said the cap’s concentrated dose has a powerful impact on the gut’s microbiome and can lower the need for antimicrobials in some cases.
CBS Bio Platforms became the Canadian distributor of the caps, which were created by Germany-based Dostofarm. CBS launched the product in early 2021, and Zettell said Ontario’s interest in the product rose markedly when they partnered with EastGen in 2022.
Mike Weber, EastGen operations manager, said they demonstrated the 10-pack starter kit in late spring in exchange for producer feedback.
“Heck, before we knew it, the guys that got the 10-pack wanted the 50-pack,” Weber said. “We hadn’t even decided whether we would carry it.”
With that kind of response, the decision was easy, said Weber, and DOSTO Cap’s popularity continues to grow.
It reached EastGen’s top 20 product list in less than a year, whereas most products require years of scaling up to even come close.
“Farmers like it. It’s easy. It’s convenient,” he said. “They usually give two tablets to the calf, which helps prevent scours and gets the rumen going right off the bat.”
Calves as young as three days old can have DOSTO caps, with a second dose provided seven days later to kickstart rumen response.
Incorporating DOSTO Caps into preventive calf health care is like administering a calcium bolus to a heifer or cow before calving; it may avoid issues that negatively affect animal wellbeing, Weber said.
“It’s not to say it’s always going to be that way, but there’s a high probability that if you use this product correctly, you’re going to alleviate some of those vet bills, that’s for sure.”
Zettell said uptake is rising in Western Canada as more feedlot operators use DOSTO Caps on incoming calves.
“(The caps) gives them a treatment upon arrival that helps stimulate the appetite and settle that microbiome, so nothing bad gets away,” she said. “And (it) helps contain any of those scour issues that may occur.”
The DOSTO bolus is administered directly into the rumen via an applicator. The oil and powder options lean toward proactive maintenance because the amounts administered per head are much lower.
DOSTO powder can also be added to milk and feed rations. The powder and oil have broader applications for swine and poultry, said Zettell.