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No Harm, No Foul?

Dan Hoying Regional Sales Manager - Agrarian Solutions

Dan Hoying - Regional Sales Manager - Agrarian Solutions

In my younger days growing up on a dairy farm, we played basketball in the barn’s hay mow ‘gymnasium’ and players called their own fouls. The rule was if no blood (harm), then no foul was committed. We continue to see producers make adjustments based on financial benefits now and overlook what that decision does to cow health for the immediate future. Changes in performance are not seen right away and the producer thinks they made a good financial decision based on indicators noticed today (no harm, no foul). Then when problems crop up, producers quickly point fingers at the nutritionist to fix the problem or start the “blame game”. Instead, they should be remembering they were the ones who took DTX out before problems started! So, when conception drops and breeding suffers, don’t expect the “conception fairy” to come in the night and make it all better! Records show performance indicators like reproduction, milk production and health all start trending down. All these decreases in performance are costing the producer money yet remember when DTX was taken out, how much money they saved on their feed bill?….(sarcasm!)

DTX has a unique mode of action not found in any other similar type “toxin product”. This action allows animals to get additional benefits regardless of which toxin(s) are present, or none at all for that matter. Modulating the immune system allows insurance against ANY stress affecting animals. Every producer knows having animals with strong, functioning immune systems will help defend that animal to any pressure from disease, weather, nutrition or management decisions and avoid the performance roller coaster. An ounce of prevention is cheaper than a pound of cure.

Mycotoxins are dynamic chemicals and can change in feedstuffs daily. They also present a challenge to producers who purchase feed ingredients where toxin levels will vary with each load purchased. Just because the producer has a low toxin assay today does not guarantee tomorrow’s feed will be low as well.

Research has shown any health event costs the producer in treatment, reduced performance and even replacement. Stressors like mycotoxins can take a toll on the cow’s immune system and make them more likely to develop mastitis, ketosis or metritis — which are some of the costliest diseases of dairy cattle today.

For example, University of Florida research showed [1]heat stress during late gestation caused an 11-pound decrease in peak milk production in the subsequent lactation of a cow. They say any stress during lactation will result in reduced performance. What’s more, growth and future milk production of the calves still in-utero can be negatively affected by this same stress. Optimizing nutrition (DTX) and management can save producers money in lost milk production, reproduction, calf performance and reduced treatment costs. So, keeping DTX in the ration makes sense to provide a better functioning immune system and ultimately healthier animals now and for years to come.

So, pick your poison; poor repro, increase in abortions, elevated SCS, reduced milk production, higher cull rate; they all cost money and if you’re using a cheaper “insurance” product, add that cost to your shrinking bottom line as well. Question your nutritionist the next time he says he’s taking DTX out to save money, “who’s saving money”?

When your producer says they’re not seeing drastic changes (evidence) after DTX is pulled out of the ration, it doesn’t mean there are not reductions in herd performance. Taylor Swift’s new song, No Body No Crime does not apply to herds who stop feeding DTX. Over time, reductions in performance gradually occur. There is proof that a crime was committed, and the cows are the victim!

1. Bethany Dado-Senn, Geoffrey E. Dahl, and Jimena Laporta, assistant professor, Department of Animal Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

This document is AN355, one of a series of the Department of Animal Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date April 2019. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.