Protimax Plus for Calves

James Grothe, Dairy Beef Specialist

Protimax Plus is designed to assist young calves through the health and nutritional challenges they face the first days and weeks after birth. It is added to milk fed to 2- to 3-week-old calves. It is a product available to order only from our plants. I work with a veterinarian from the University of Minnesota Diagnostic lab who has found that if we feed better-quality ingredients to stressed calves we can reduce scours and other health concerns. How do we do this? In addition to good management, medication, and vaccinations we can take advantage of products like Protimax Plus to improve the environment in the calf’s developing stomach. Based on my experience with clients using this product in the past six months, Protimax Plus works very well in the right situation.

Protimax Plus has three key ingredients. The first is Protimax, which is the hyper-immunized egg antibodies derived from spray-dried whole eggs. These are from hens that have been specifically immunized with common bacterial and viral challenges of young calves such as E. coli, Salmonella, Rotavirus and Corona virus. The second ingredient is Fibosel®, with exposed beta-glucans which assist in stimulating macrophages that are the animal’s first line of defense when attacked by foreign antigens. They serve as immune cells to neutralize pathogenic intruders such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites. The third is Optimin®, a chelated mineral source which improves health and performance by ensuring that the mineral balance is optimized for the calf. So it is this combination of ingredients that helps the calf’s gut grow more “good” guys than “bad,” thus reducing scours and other health concerns. This results in stronger, healthier calves at weaning.

Protimax Plus is fed to calves in the milk at six grams per head per day for the first two-three weeks after birth. However, when calves are severely stressed, such as dairy-beef calves arriving from a sale barn or co-mingled calves, then 10 grams per head per day is suggested for the first four days. The same recommendation applies around any stressful event.

Because the Kent Nutrition Group works with a lot of producers who raise dairy-beef calves, we know scours is one of their biggest concerns. The chance for scours during the first three weeks of a typical dairy-beef calf’s life is very high. One of the leading reasons for scours in these calves is that they get little to no colostrum or the natural protection it provides. Studying fecal samples from such calves indicates all have had and shed many of the above bacteria and viruses. So use Protimax Plus on calves that are experiencing stress situations like being moved, weather extremes, or co-mingling – in other words, almost all dairy-beef calves! Does Protimax Plus work? A client in northwest Iowa ran a trial on the product with 116 calves from a Wisconsin sale barn put into a crate calf barn during the summer heat. Fifty-eight calves were the control and 58 received Protimax Plus. There was a 10% reduction in scours for the calves fed Protimax Plus and none of those calves had repeat scour days. Treatment for health concerns was 50% less for the calves fed Protimax Plus. In addition, the Protimax Plus calves gained slightly over 2 lb more in eight weeks, and the producer said they were, “more aggressive at the pail within a few days of the start and saved a lot of time getting up to eat and drink.” The producer has agreed to repeat the trial to confirm that it works but thinks Protimax Plus is well worth it.

So is Protimax Plus worth the investment? It cost about $5.45 per calf to use and with treatment savings plus heavier, healthier calves it saved about $5.65 per calf, plus the labor saving from not handling sick calves AND the calves took off better after weaning. Results may not always be this good, but most calf raisers will agree that anything that reduces scours and the headaches that come with it is worth the investment. Protimax Plus is available in 20- kilogram tubs (44 lb) as code number 8410. The keg will treat 125-150 calves, depending on how much is fed and for how long. So if you have clients who could benefit from Protimax Plus, be sure to have them give it a try. It won’t replace good management, medication and vaccination programs, but it will help those measures be more effective.