Controlling Anaplasmosis with Medicated Mineral Supplementation

Jun 08, 2020

By Daniel Scruggs, managing veterinarian, Zoetis Beef Technical Services
Anaplasmosis is primarily a concern in summer and early fall. Anaplasmosis is most commonly caused by Anaplasma marginale, a microorganism that invades red blood cells and causes severe anemia. Transmitted through the blood, the main culprits in spreading the disease are biting flies or ticks or infected blood transferred on contaminated needles or other equipment. 
Death is a common outcome of cattle developing anaplasmosis. Those cattle that do not die, may experience a long recovery time after infection, lose pregnancies, or bulls may experience infertility.  Signs of anaplasmosis can include:
  • Orange-yellow coloration of the mucous membranes
  • Thin, watery blood
  • Slow, reluctant to move or short of breath cattle
  • Aggressive behavior shortly before death
  • Sudden, unexplained death of adult cattle
  • Abortions
In fall-calving herds, heavy bred cows and recently calved cows are at greatest risk.  Heavy bred cows may abort or die because of the extra metabolic requirement of that advanced pregnancy, while cows calved in early fall are undergoing the stress of early lactation. 
In spring-calving herds, cows are getting bred during the high vector season, so bull health and fertility are of particular concern. Cows nursing calves at this time are also at risk. 
One of the most commonly used and predictable methods of controlling anaplasmosis includes incorporating the feed-grade chlortetracycline AUREOMYCIN® in the animal’s feed or mineral supplements. AUREOMYCIN is labeled for control of active infection of anaplasmosis at two levels: a hand fed daily level (0.5 mg/head/day), and a free choice level (0.5 to 2.0 mg/head/day). This is an important distinction because there are two formulations and feeding practices that need to be adhered to with each formulation.
The veterinarian signing the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) for these products needs to be aware of the formulation being used. If it is a hand-fed formulation, they must choose the product with the appropriate grams per ton AUREOMYCIN level to achieve the correct dosage based on anticipated intake and weight of the cattle.  
  1. Hand-fed formulations are approved at the level of 0.5 mg/head per day. These formulations can be in hand-fed mineral, or other hand-fed feeds that are formulated to deliver 0.5 mg of AUREOMYCIN per head per day. These formulations are available in a variety of concentrations, but the label instructions will state how much needs to be hand fed each day to deliver the level of 0.5 mg/head per day. Most of the currently available anaplasmosis control minerals are labeled for a hand-fed formulation. It is important to make sure the hand-fed formulation chosen will adequately deliver the amount of AUREOMYCIN required based on the size of cows. 
For example, cows weighing 1,400 pounds will require 700 mg of AUREOMYCIN per day. If the feeding rate is 4 oz/head per day that would require a mineral containing 5,600 grams per ton AUREOMYCIN. The veterinarian writing the VFD for these cattle will need to know the average weight of the cows to make the appropriate recommendation on the AUREOMYCIN level to effectively treat those cows. 
  1. Free-choice formulations are approved at the level of 0.5 to 2.0 mg/head per day.  There are a limited number of products that are available as free-choice minerals.  Notice there is a wider approval range with free-choice minerals. This wider range of dosage helps to correct for the variability in mineral consumption seen during some seasons of the year, and it helps to address the variability in animal size, particularly in mature bulls which weigh substantially more than the average cow. Most importantly, the free-choice formulation has the convenience of free-choice delivery, meaning that mineral feeders do not have to be filled every day.        
It is always important to consult your veterinarian regarding proper use of animal health products, but, under Veterinary Feed Directive, a veterinarian must authorize the use of feed or mineral products containing antibiotics. The veterinarian will recommend the correct product to deliver the necessary dose to achieve the desired control of anaplasmosis. A strong working relationship between your veterinarian and your feed/mineral supplier can go a long way toward helping keep your herd healthy.  Your local Co-op has a complete selection of high-quality pasture and fly control mineral supplements containing chlortetracycline.  Consult with the beef cattle experts there for a recommendation that meets the needs of your operation.

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