Oral electrolyte product uses that mimics rainforest plant symbiosis to save calves
Bozeman, Mont. – Gary Strobel, a professor emeritus at Montana State University, took an interesting approach to solving the age-old problem of calf scours, and Founder and CEO of EcoPlanet Animal Health Bryan Blatt says cattle producers can use the resulting product, Sx Calf Oral Electrolyte, to quickly reverse symptoms in calves.
“We announced the release of our innovative oral electrolyte and nutrient supplement for use in young calves experiencing scours just recently,” Blatt says. “Sx Calf is unique and extremely effective in many ways.”
“I met Gary about seven years ago, and he has a unique approach to science,” says Blatt. “Dr. Strobel is a plant scientist, and he was interested in endophytic fungi. These are fungi that live and are associated with plants.”
Strobel has traveled to the majority of rainforests across the globe to study the natural interactions between plants and fungi, gaining new perspectives on the organisms that are involved in these interactions.
Blatt explains, “80 percent of antibiotics discovered by man are associated with soil. Our products mimic fungi.”
Penicillin, for example, was derived from mold that was isolated on cantaloupes, kicking off the antibiotic era, he continues.
“Recent events, including the Food and Drug Administration’s action to curtail the use of antibiotics, have led to more of an effort to discover alternatives,” Blatt explains, noting that Strobel’s work analyzes the reaction between plants and fungi to harness the power of the natural relationship that protects plants from disease.
“Dr. Strobel and I teamed up to create this product, which is fast-acting and is able to balance the gut of young calves to quickly rehydrate calves with scours,” Blatt says. “We’ve treated about 15,000 calves with this product, and we’ve seen remarkable results.”
When calves get scours, traditional treatments have involved the use of an oral electrolyte powder that is mixed with water and given to the calf via a stomach or esophageal tube twice a day for up to five days.
“The difference is, in nine out of 10 calves, treatment only required one 50-milliliter oral dose of this product, and calves recovered in as little as eight hours,” Blatt says. “Most of the producers using our product don’t even bring their calves into the barn to treat them.”
Today’s drug market has seen a number of nutraceuticals and natural products to treat scours, and Sx Calf fits in that category. The product has also been approved for organic production, as well.
“Our goal is to save time, save money and save calves for producers,” Blatt says, noting customers have seen financial gains from using the product.
“When calves have scours and are sick for three, four or five days, oftentimes, they don’t ever really recover,” Blatt adds. “They have enough damage to their gut that they never gain quite like they should. If we can reduce the time of illness, we can prevent that.”
While currently there aren’t results from any clinical trials on the efficacy of Sx Calf, Blatt notes they have partnered with Colorado State University’s Vet School, who used the product at a number of Colorado dairies and in the vet teaching hospital to treat sick calves.
“We’re also working on a study with Colorado State University,” Blatt says. “Additionally, we’re working in a collaborative agreement with the Craig Venter Institute, who got a USDA grant to DNA sequence the microbiome of the cow, at the Miles City Research Center at Fort Keogh, Mont. to look at the gastrointestinal tract of the cow.”
“We’re working on research to prove our product works as well as we’ve heard it works anecdotally,” he adds.
Initial studies have shown 90 percent of calves were rehydrated when using the product, reducing mortality by up to 90 percent.
Today, EcoPlant Animal Health is a one-man company, owned and operated by Blatt, who works with distributers across the West.
“Most producers can already find our product at their animal health retailer,” he explains. “Sx Calf also works for treating lambs, kids, swine and foals.”
The small company was formed in Montana, where its headquarters sit today, and Blatt says, “It’s really fun to be able to help ranchers save their calves.”
He comments, “The number one financial loss due to medical illness or conditions for cow/calf producers is scours. Our goal is to save those calves.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.