When a new product comes along that instantly improves animal health problems, from the cow-calf operation to the feedyard, everyone from the small producer to large-scale veterinarians jump on the bandwagon — and rightfully so.

Put Draxxin in that category, along with several other products that were among the field in the BEEF 2006 Most Promising New Products program. In its second year, the program featured products displayed during the 2006 Cattle Industry Annual Convention and Trade Show in Denver earlier this year.

“Our mission in this program is to help introduce products we believe can help our readers become more efficient in their beef operations,” says Steve May, BEEF publisher, Minneapolis, MN. “We had a number of excellent products that can be used in a number of phases of the beef industry. And we encourage our readers to seek out more information about these products.”

New products in this year's field included: the DataLink wireless data transfer system from Digi-Star; Draxxin injectable BRD control solution from Pfizer Animal Health; Palm® Reader handheld tag data recorder from Farnham Livestock Tracing Systems; GeneSTAR® quality grade DNA test from Bovigen; Replamin Gel Plus mineral gel from Albion Advanced Nutrition; and Vista 5 SQ, a modified-live vaccine from Intervet, Inc.

A panel of industry experts reviewed the benefits of each product in a roundtable discussion and in direct visits to company trade show booths. The panel included John Maas, University of California-Davis DVM; Clay Mathis, New Mexico State University Extension livestock specialist in Las Cruces; Mike Adamson, manager of the 10,000-head Adamson Brothers & Sons Feedyard, Wray, CO; and Harold Wooderson, cow-calf-stocker operator, Blackwell, OK.

The following are descriptions and comments from panel members and product representatives for each of the six products.

Draxxin injectable BRD control

“This is an awesome product (for BRD control),” says Adamson, in praise of Draxxin, which his feedyard has used extensively. “We think it could be one of the best products we have seen to treat stocker cattle (for BRD),” adds Wooderson, who works with his sons to send quality cattle to feedyards.

The Pfizer product is designed to provide single-dose convenience for BRD 1,2,3 treatment in high-risk cattle. Gerald Stokka, Pfizer senior veterinarian, says it's the first entry of a “novel macrolide subclass, the triamilides,” developed by Pfizer Animal Health. It's effective against the three BRD pathogens — Mannheimia (Pasteurella) haemolytica, Pasteurella multocida, and Histophilus somni (Haemophilus somnus).

Administered by single injection in the neck, he says the product has surpassed early expectations. “Proof of success or failure of a product is found when it gets out into the field,” he says. “This product has exceeded my expectations. You can treat cattle once, even for the toughest pathogens, and it does the job.”

Maas says Draxxin is a good tool to not only treat Pasteurella and other common pathogens, but also lesser-known mycoplasma pneumonia forms of respiratory disorders, which can be difficult to diagnose. “Draxxin is going to make a big difference in therapeutics and animal welfare. It's a really good product,” he says.

Mathis, who works with all types of operations in New Mexico, says Draxxin has proved successful in feedyards. “They really like it,” he says.

Visit www.draxxin.com to learn more.

Vista 5 SQ, MLV vaccine

The panel also reviewed a new modified-live vaccine (MLV) from Intervet — Vista 5 SQ. Intervet's Ced Woodard says the product involves new Intervet science, and provides protection against bovine respiratory and reproductive diseases caused by infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) Types 1 and 2, bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) and parainfluenza-3 (PI3).

Woodard says Vista provides long-term protection and is the only MLV with a six-month duration of immunity label for IBR and BVD Types 1 and 2.

The single-dose product has five-way viral protection, as well as protection against the five most common Lepto forms. It's also the only five-way viral/five-way Lepto with hardjo-bovis protection, he says. In addition, it offers unique peel-off labels for easy identification, and provides a safer mixing method and more sterile administration.

“The six-month label is good,” says Maas, the veterinarian panelist. “And I like the peel-off label. This looks like a good product.”

Learn more at www.Intervet.com.

Replamin Gel Plus mineral gel

This product opened the panel's eyes to a new solid method of delivering minerals, such as Se 2200 selenium yeast and cobalt, vitamins, and others during cattle processing. The oral-administered gel can benefit newly arrived calves in a backgrounding or grazing program.

“We see this as part of a coordinated animal health control program on cattle just as they arrive,” says Royce Samford, Albion technical services manager. He says tests in northeast Oklahoma showed the gel strongly reduced re-pulls, re-vaccinations and death loss on sale barn cattle placed in a backgrounding program.

“This is targeted for a ‘single-shot’ response for cattle that we know the operator doesn't want to see back in the chutes (multiple times),” Samford says.

Wooderson says the Albion product “sounds like something” his northern Oklahoma operation could use. “Anything that can provide high-risk calves with more energy and more of an appetite is good for us,” he says. “The Southeast calves we receive need selenium. This gel should provide a simple application process to deliver that and other minerals.”

Maas says the product has “good outreach.” He says selenium and other mineral deficiencies can be a major problem in California.

“If cattle arrive at the feedyard and their immune system isn't working at the appropriate level, it takes two weeks to build them back up - that's two weeks they're not gaining properly,” Maas says.

Learn more at www.albion-an.com.

GeneSTAR quality grade DNA test

This Bovigen product is aimed at helping ranchers make breeding decisions based on genetic markers that identify quality grade and tenderness capabilities. Calvin Gunter, Bovigen director of corporate development, says the DNA test has been independently validated by the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium.

Users receive a GeneSTAR test kit and order forms. Any type of DNA material from an animal — a hair root, for example — can be used in the test. Cost is about $65/animal for both the quality grade and tenderness test.

Bovigen analyzes the test, and provides results in about a week. The results provide information on whether an animal will grade USDA Choice, with 75% or higher accuracy, Gunter says.

Adamson says such a program should benefit cow-calf operators and commercial bull producers. “This could provide an advantage for ranchers wanting to retain ownership of their cattle,” he says, noting they would know how their genetics produce at the packer.

“This is another tool to help producers buy better bulls,” Mathis adds, because they can know more about the quality of calves that will be produced.

Wooderson, whose family often retains ownership, says the GeneSTAR product should benefit situations like his. “Cattle with the potential (for quality and tenderness), I don't care where they go, they should bring a better price,” he says.

Learn more at www.bovigen.com.

Palm Reader tag data recorder

Animal ID is one of the industry's most concerning topics, and this new product should help ease the burden of ID checks, whether cattle are in the pasture, holding pen or feedyard. Similar in size to most Palm-type devices, the unit uses the popular Palm OS operating system, and features dust and waterproof standards. It operates off an extended-life battery.

Mathis says the Palm Reader “could probably affect more people” in many livestock sectors. “It has a lot of good benefits,” he says. “Whether you're a cow-calf, stocker operator or a feedlot, the Palm has broad application.”

Adamson adds the unit should be convenient method of reading the electronic ID tags that are becoming standard for much of the industry. The system features 128 MB of memory, which ensures data security in the event of a power loss.

Kerry Moncur, technology manager for Farnam's livestock products division, says the unit is available for either serial or USB communications cable, making it easy to download data from the reader to a laptop or desktop computer. It can hold up to six fields of data, which can be downloaded to a typical spreadsheet, Moncur says.

It works well with other Farnam Tag Reader systems, as well as similar systems.

Learn more at www.farnamlts.com.

DataLink wireless transfer system

This new wireless data transfer option for Digi-Star's TMR Tracker feed management software provides added ease in ensuring the correct ration is delivered to the right pen at the right time. DataLink automatically schedules, sends and receives mixer-loading and pen-feeding information, says Kevin Klubertanz, Digi-Star technical products manager.

The DataLink base radio can be connected to various feed-management software systems, and communicates with another 2.4 GHz, internally mounted radio on the mixer. “The ease of data transfer is great for operations with more than two mixers, or those that want real-time feeding information,” Klubertanz says.

The system collects pen-feeding data and transfers it to the DataLink program, which determines the types of trucks available and incorporates the pen list, based on whether the operator wants to optimize the mixers, have split loads, zone the yard, or other options. Loads are then sent out accordingly. “It is designed to be a look-and-load setup,” Klubertanz says.

The system helps correct mistakes in feeding. For example, if the list calls for 500 lbs. of corn, and 600 lbs. was dumped into the mixer, DataLink will relay the data to the bunk-read program so adjustments can be made. It also reduces labor needed for bunk reading and other feeding chores.

Adamson hopes to try the DataLink program at his family feedyard. “I'd like to play with it and possibly install it into our feeding system,” he says.

Learn more www.digi-star.com.

Overall feedback

The panelists were impressed with all the products. “I particularly was impressed with Draxxin, and really enjoyed the technical materials,” Adamson says.

“Draxxin is a great product,” Wooderson notes, “and I thought the other health products, the Replamin Gel and the Vista, were very good. They come nearer to fitting my operation.”

Mathis also praised the products. “The wireless technology was impressive,” he says. “The Palm Reader probably could affect more people and be very simplistic.”

Veterinarian Maas thought all of the 2006 tour offerings were “very, very good” products.

“Draxxin is going to be a big difference in therapeutics, animal welfare and helping the animals,” Maas says, adding, “the Palm Reader looks like something a lot of people could use very effectively.”

One suggestion Maas had for all MLV makers was the need for temperature markers on each package to alert users if the medicines are approaching unsafe temperatures for quality control. “Temperature is critical because it's a live virus,” he says.

Perhaps such a product will be entered in next year's product tour, scheduled for the 2007 Cattle Industry Annual Convention and Trade Show in Nashville, TN. With the ever-increasing advances in technology, don't be surprised if that and many more innovative products to benefit the beef producer are part of next year's program.

Larry Stalcup is an Amarillo, TX-based freelance writer.