Supplementing receiving diets with high levels of vitamin E can reduce anti-microbial treatment costs, according to researchers at Oklahoma State University. But, the vitamin E supplements do little to improve ADG and feed conversion, researchers add. (See "Feeder Research" page 6-BF, May 2000 BEEF.)

Researchers fed 694 shipping-stressed calves a common receiving diet of soybean hulls, corn, wheat middlings, cottonseed hulls and a protein supplement containing lasalocid. Feed intake was not restricted and the diet was supplemented with 2000 I.U. of vitamin E for 0, 7, 14 or 28 days.

When animals met specific criteria for morbidity, a regimen of antibiotic drugs was used. Most symptoms occurred within the first seven to 14 days. The percent of calves identified as sick and thus requiring treatment with anti-microbial drugs was 67.8%, 68.3%, 61.8% and 60.3% for 0, 7, 14 and 28 days, respectively.

Medical costs decreased 9.4% and 17.2% for seven and 14 days, respectively. For cattle fed 2000 I.U. of vitamin E for 28 days, anti-microbial treatment costs were reduced by 22.4%. The medical costs (minus the cost of providing 2000 I.U. of vitamin E for 28 days) provided a 38 cents/head savings.

Regardless of dietary treatment, ADG and feed conversion were not improved.

Improved carcass value, which further improves profits, also may be a benefit of vitamin E supplementation, researchers say.

For more information contact Jeff Carter at 405/744-8877 or e-mail cartejn@okstate.edu.