The results of a backgrounding and finishing trial at Lethbridge Research Centre appear to reflect what producers who supplement their cattle with Boviglo have been seeing over the past year or two.
Harold Unrau of HU Livestock at Grunthal, Man., took on the Western Canada distributorship of Boviglo and Eberglo because Boviglo is the first supplement he has seen in his 25 years of feeding cattle that contains a complete lineup of prebiotics and probiotics, vitamins, minerals and plant enzymes that work to build immunity first and then promote gut health.
The all-natural ingredients in Boviglo are in readily available forms for quick absorption. The 12 vitamins are water-soluble; the minerals are chelated; the plant enzymes are naturally occurring from barley extracts; and the prebiotics and probiotics derived from Lactobacillus acidophilus are in a fermented, dormant state. The guaranteed analysis is available on his website.
During the initial on-farm demonstration in Western Canada at his brother’s custom feedlot, Rocking U Feeders near MacGregor, Man., one of the first changes they noticed was that calves that received an oral dose of Boviglo at processing on arrival went to water right away.
It could be the taste, Unrau says, but whatever the reason, rehydration of tissues and blood cells is the all-important first step in mending the effects of stress from weaning, transport, commingling and new surroundings. When calves drink, they eat and when they are eating they are much less likely to get sick.
Fewer calves showed signs of digestive problems, such as diarrhea, when Boviglo was added to the daily feed, suggesting that it helps smooth the transition from milk and fresh forages to the unfamiliar feedlot ration. Most calves started gaining right away, which is another good sign that the digestive system is functioning as it should to make the best use of nutrients in the feed.
When weak calves that received Boviglo on arrival and in their feed did go downhill, they perked up right away when given an antibiotic to treat overall illness, he adds. They saw fewer re-treats, chronics and deaths among calves on Boviglo.
The ingredients in Boviglo were selected by Eli Ebersol, a horse breeder from Milverton, Ont., and Murray Bast, founder of Bio-Ag Consultants and Distributors of Wellesley, Ont., who set out to formulate a supplement to improve the overall vitality of Ebersol’s horses. Bast fine-tuned the formula and their first product, Eberglo, was licensed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for horses in 2013 and for swine and poultry in 2016. Boviglo was formulated along the same line specifically for ruminants and licensed in 2015. Both products are made at the Bio-Ag facility and distributed in Canada and the U.S. under the Nature’s Wave banner.
Sticking with it
Norman Unrau continues to use Boviglo at Rocking U Feeders and in his cow-calf operation.
Newly weaned calves receive an oral dose of 10 ml of Boviglo on arrival and he mixes it at a rate of five ml per head per day in the total mixed ration (TMR) for the first 90 days on feed. The pull rate is about half of what he’d expect when following his usual protocol calling for an injection of antibiotic on arrival for high-stress calves. During the first 90 days, the calves on Boviglo held their own and then gained better than those not receiving Boviglo.
When he ups Boviglo to 20 ml on arrival and eliminates the antibiotic, the pull rate is about the same as with the use of antibiotic. The deciding factor is that it’s a lot more economical to bump up Boviglo than to give an antibiotic.
His feedlot veterinarian suggested that with all of the vitamins in Boviglo, it would be okay to eliminate the usual vitamin A/D and selenium shots on arrival as well.
On the cow-calf side, he has done away with the same two needles when he gives each newborn five ml of Boviglo in the mouth at tagging. Of the 380 calves born this spring, only one calf was treated for scours and two for coccidiosis, in which case he doubles the dose for two days in a row.
Boviglo has also been very effective and economical for treating cows with retained placentas. The cleanings are expelled within 36 hours of receiving an 80 ml oral dose.
“It all boils down to gut health. With a balance of vitamins and minerals and fed the right things, the body has a better chance to heal what’s gone wrong. These calves are bouncing back from things we fought for years,” Norman says.
“I’ve lived with cattle all my life and I can see these things change in front of my eyes so, yes, I am pleased with the results all around on health and gains. I think it’s working and it is cheaper than antibiotics. I’ve really noticed we are using less antibiotics and without a needle that has to be better.”
Sid Wilkinson at Wilkinridge Stock Farm near Ridgeville, Man., runs purebred Maine-Anjou and Red Angus and was one of the first beef producers out west to try this new product in 2015.
It was the semen test results after starting the bulls on Boviglo partway through that first winter that really caught his attention. They had better averages, measured better and a higher percentage passed on the initial test.
Last year, he fed Boviglo to all of the bulls and replacement heifers starting from weaning when he mixed it with the grain, and continuing with it through winter by mixing it with the corn silage in the feed wagon.
The calves had very few health issues at weaning last year, which he says could very well be attributed to Boviglo and, or picking a period of good weather between rains for weaning.
He also gives an oral dose of seven ml of Boviglo to any spring calves that look off or slow and those treated for scours or pneumonia.
When treating an older animal, such as a cow that hasn’t cleaned after calving, he simply mixes Boviglo with its individual silage ration.
“Boviglo is an all-natural product, but we don’t have anything against antibiotics. We just try to do as many things right as we can to keep our cattle healthy. When the rumen is working, they get the full value of what they eat and their general health will be better,” Wilkinson says.
Also near Ridgeville, Warren Graydon, runs his dad’s Walking Plow Charolais herd with his own commercial herd and has put Boviglo to the test in almost every way possible over the past two years.
Graydon’s interest in the product stemmed from a scours problem in spring 2015 when he gave it a try, but didn’t use it full out. Now he faithfully gives each calf five ml of Boviglo in the mouth after it has had colostrum. Any calf that show signs of being off gets a 25 ml oral dose to bring the gut back into balance.
In his experience, Boviglo does boost immunity because the treatment rate for scours dropped from around 12 per cent in past years to four per cent and this spring, only four calves had to be treated. Of those, only one ended up having to be given antibiotic and fluids intravenously.
“It doesn’t work on everything, but when I look at the cost of an IV treatment plus the trouble of having to bring the mom into the barn versus Boviglo, even if Boviglo doesn’t work it only costs me $1.25 for the 25 ml to give it a try,” Graydon says.
He has also done away with the traditional routine for newborns, which costs about $9.50 per calf for the BioMycin, vitamin A/D, selenium and Vitamaster injections. Now the calves receive their Boviglo orally and only selenium by injection. On pasture, he continues to provide Deccox with diatomaceous earth for the calves to help control coccidiosis.
All of the feeder heifers, steers and bull calves receive Boviglo in a total mixed ration throughout the winter. Free-choice minerals are available year-round and the ration topped off with Boviglo to feed the rumen bugs to make better use of the minerals and feed ingested, he explains.
Graydon claims Boviglo also seems to have a calming effect on those cows that lose all respect for people after calving. It’s easy to mix 25 ml into a bucket of water and after two waterings the difference in temperament is noticeable. By the next day, he feels at ease watering and feeding as usual.
He also appreciates the long shelf life of the product without the need for refrigeration. He buys his supply in five-gallon containers each fall and stores them in a heated room in the barn. Boviglo can withstand temperature fluctuations, but letting it freeze solid could damage the live plant enzymes.
“Boviglo is definitely not a snake oil, but it’s not a miracle cure for everything. It definitely has its place. I won’t quit using it because it is relatively inexpensive and so far it is working for me,” says Graydon.
GENEX representative Allan Malenko of Winnipeg says a dozen of his dairy customers have started using Boviglo within the past year since GENEX became a dealer.
Typically, each calf receives three ml per day in its milk for the first 30 days and then again for a couple of weeks leading up to weaning when the calf moves into group housing. At that point a measured amount of Boviglo is hand sprayed onto the total mixed ration in the feed bunk each day. Overall, Malenko says, these dairy clients report the calves have shinier hair coats and seem more aggressive in that they drink more and eat more.
It is also used on show cattle. Oftentimes it’s difficult to convince cattle to drink city water, but an oral dose of 15 to 20 ml of the supplement before leaving seems to keep them drinking and eating.
Unrau continues to add retailers across the West and the list is available at HU Livestock Ltd., or contact him at 204-871-0250.
The list of dealers in Eastern Canada and the U.S. is available on the Nature’s Wave website, or by calling 1-800-591-9404.