Minimizing Cost of Gain with Animal Health Practices

LENEXA, Kan. (April 15, 2009) – With input costs for cattle producers at an all-time high, managing the cost of gain is essential to protecting the bottom line of an operation. Keeping animals healthy and able to more efficiently convert feed is one strategy producers can implement to minimize the cost of gain.

“The initial costs of a sound arrival program, such as vaccines, antibiotics and dewormers, are certainly going to impact your cost of gain,” explained Mitch Blanding, DVM, Pfizer Animal Health. “But when cattle remain healthy and reach their genetic potential to perform as a result of that input, you are more likely to see a return on investment.”

According to Blanding, a plan for helping to prevent respiratory disease is an important strategy for controlling cost of gain. Not only is it the most cost-effective place to intervene with respiratory disease, producers without effective prevention strategies find the expense of additional treatment, veterinary services and labor significantly increases their input costs. One study found treatment could increase a pen’s cost of gain by more than $30 per hundredweight.1

An effective prevention plan includes a vaccination and strategic deworming program to help prevent disease and maximize animal performance. For instance, a 5-way viral respiratory vaccine can deliver protection from respiratory disease to help reduce the costs of pulling and treating cattle. Because parasites negatively impact feed conversion, they too become a threat to the operation’s bottom line. In addition, parasites depress the immune system and make cattle more susceptible to long-term disease challenges–resulting in additional treatment costs.

“Deworming cattle is one of the most common practices in the beef industry, but still offers one of the highest returns on investment of all the technologies currently available,” said Blanding. “In fact, recent research suggests elimination of dewormers from the beef production chain would cause a 19 percent increase in breakeven prices.”2,3

Although input costs remain high, working with a veterinarian to implement cost-effective preventive health strategies such as vaccination and deworming is one step producers can take in lowering their cost of gain.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE), the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company, is a world leader in discovering and developing innovative animal vaccines and prescription medicines. Pfizer Animal Health is dedicated to improving the safety, quality and productivity of the world’s food supply by enhancing the health of livestock and poultry; and in helping companion animals live longer and healthier lives. For additional information on Pfizer’s portfolio of animal products, visit