Get the Facts about Growth Enhancements in Cattle

A refresher on implant facts can help producers advocate for the health and safety of beef

NEW YORK — Dec. 2, 2010 — Today’s beef producer is not just responsible for raising quality beef. Everyone involved in the agricultural industry is an educator as well, helping inform consumers about the practice of producing their food. One often-discussed topic is the use of implants as a growth enhancement.
“We have talked to consumers quite a bit about what we do,” says David Ast, manager at Irsik and Doll’s Gray County Feedyard in Cimarron, Kan. “The people I’ve talked to know we have a safe food supply. Very simply, the people who don’t produce a wholesome product are going to be out of business. The only kind of people that are going to be around are the ones who are taking care of the cattle.”
Ast says Gray County Feedyard has been using implants for nearly 25 years — just about as long as the technology has been available — and the 30,000-head capacity custom cattle-feeding operation has asked tough questions from the beginning to ensure that the animals are well cared for and will produce quality beef.
Like Ast, the majority of beef producers will market conventionally raised beef, says Gary Sides, Ph.D., nutritionist with Pfizer Animal Health Veterinary Operations. 
“Only a small segment of operations are raising natural or organic beef, Dr. Sides says. ―This means implants likely play a role in helping producers economically and safely raise cattle. Producers know what benefits in average daily gain implants can provide, but – especially in this day and age — it’s worth arming yourself with solid facts to help consumers understand why these practices are important.”
Dr. Sides says that the key facts he tries to get across to consumers whenever a question arises are:
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval: All growth-promoting products must be approved by the FDA, and approval is granted only after rigorous and extensive scientific tests to show efficacy and safety.
Time tested: Growth-promoting products have been on the market for more than 30 years with no documented negative effect on human health.

Natural occurrence: Hormones, like those used in growth-promoting products, are naturally occurring and found in all plants and animals. For example, a pound of cabbage contains 10,880 more nanograms of estrogen than a pound of beef from an implanted steer.1

For producers like Ast, record-keeping and regulations are two additional items that demonstrate their commitment to producing safe beef.
“The regulations and records we keep show our commitment to making sure the animals are well cared for, and that information is reviewed closely,” he says. “Plus, we have an economic interest. Anything that could reduce the quality of the cattle we sell on the grid would be a concern for us. The data we get back on our cattle shows that simply isn’t the case.”
Ast says he absolutely sees a difference in the rate of gain in the cattle implanted with SYNOVEX PLUS® implants with a quarter to a half-pound more gain per day due to the improvement in feed utilization, which makes a significant difference in his bottom line.
“Even considering the investment in the implant itself, the technology simply makes money for us,” Ast says. “It takes no time at all to perform since we’ve got the cattle in the chute anyway to vaccinate and inspect every individual for overall health status. We do take care to do it right — using clean needles, good procedure, and then we have our veterinarian check on the implants to ensure proper application. We want to be sure we’re using the implant to its best advantage, and that the people who trust us with their cattle trust what we do.”
To help arm beef producers with more information about implant technology and other technologies that contribute to sustainable beef production, visit the Sustainable Beef Resource Center (SBRC) website at

The SRBC was formed at the suggestion of beef producers and branded-beef marketers who recognized the need for a centralized source of facts about technologies used in sustainable beef production. SBRC members include marketing and technical representatives from leading U.S. animal-health companies. SBRC works with third-party experts to develop factual, science-based information about the important role of technologies in the sustainable production of safe, wholesome and affordable beef.
About Pfizer Animal Health 
Pfizer Animal Health, a business of Pfizer Inc., is a world leader in discovering and developing innovative animal vaccines and prescription medicines, investing an estimated $300 million annually in animal health product research and development.  For more information about how Pfizer Animal Health works to ensure a safe, sustainable global food supply from healthy livestock and poultry; or helps companion animals and horses to live longer, healthier lives, visit

1McCollum FT. Implanting beef calves and stocker cattle. Texas A&M University. 1998. Available at: Accessed July 2, 2010.
Michelle Tollefson  
Pfizer Animal Health  

Jennifer Ryan
Bader Rutter



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