Zoetis And Dectomax Review: What A Herd Looks Like After One Year - North 40 Life

Zoetis And Dectomax Review: What A Herd Looks Like After One Year

Zoetis And Dectomax Review (3)

When we started this experiment last year with Vic Anderson of the Heaven on Earth Ranch in Montana, it was with an aim to test the claims of Zoetis against the generic cattle health products Vic had used the year before. Well, after a full year and a warm October ship date, we’ve finally got some numbers to look at.

The one product we were really excited to test out was Dectomax Pour-On. The premium price tag on Zoetis Dectomax usually kept Vic using generic products, but we got him on board last year, and the results?

Weight of steers in 2015—614 (w/o Zoetis products)

Weight of steers in 2016636 (w/ Zoetis products)


Weight of heifers in 2015—565 (w/o Zoetis products)

Weight of heifers in 2016583 (w/ Zoetis products)

That’s a weight gain of +22 pounds for the steers and +18 pounds for the heifers over last year, and +40 pounds total. So, is Dectomax Pour-On a wonder drug?

Anyone who knows ranching knows there are a million and one reasons those cattle could have been heavier. In this article, we will touch on those factors and get behind the scenes view of the overall project.

Zoetis And Dectomax Review (1)

In the Trenches: Cattle Branding as an Act 

Here's a little context for those of you who may not be familiar with the goings-on of a cattle ranch. What does a cattle branding actually look like? There are two main components to a branding, vaccination and the actual branding.

When administering vaccines during a branding, there are usually two people on the calf itself, one at the head and one on the hocks. Each vaccinator or administrator of antibiotics will have their own job, flitting around from down calf to down calf with a cattle marker. When Jerrin and I were on the ground with our second or third calf, we finally got into the swing of it—“Pink streak on face? Check. Two colors on the side? Check. Two on the neck? Check. Brand? Check.” And you let the calf up to rejoin the herd.

Put that sequence on repeat, minus two or three calves that managed to escape the branding pen via an unlocked gate… plus the time it took to chase them down and get them back in, and that was our day.

You develop a real sense of comradery at a branding because, unlike the dances we used to go to in middle school, your partner constantly changes when you’re selecting and culling calves from the herd. I was in the mud with a lawyer, a doctor, a high school junior and so many other people.

Zoetis And Dectomax Review (5)

Factors That Could Have Impacted Cattle Weights At Shipping

In the sequence of things, that branding was done in March of 2016. Fast forward to October and Jerrin and I were back on Heaven on Earth Ranch for the shipping weight where Vic learned he was +20 pounds on both heifer and steer weights.

For Vic's list weight in 2015, we have to take into account that Vic moved his cattle to different pastures that year. While most of us know what moving a herd will do, let’s look at how that could have impacted the weights.

When cattle move to a new pasture, they have to learn where the water is, they have to learn where to find the best places to graze and take shelter—and all of this leads to stress, which leads to weight loss. So those lower numbers in 2015 could have been due to the herd’s move—which could mean the bump in weights for this year’s cattle could be attributed in part to Vic's cattle becoming acclimated to their new pastures.

In addition to that, we had “water right when we needed this year,” according to Vic.

“The rain was almost perfect this year. We’d get a good downpour that’d get the grass started, then there’d be enough time for it to mature completely before the next rain. Sometimes if it rains too much for too long, the cattle can’t keep weight on because the grass won’t mature. And drought? Well, drought’s not good for anybody.”

The reservoirs were full all year this year, and the cattle had plenty of water and good access to it.

Zoetis And Dectomax Review (5)

End of the Line and Final Conclusions On Dectomax And Zoetis

Overall report: Cattle were a combined +40 pounds at shipping, Vic had healthier heifers year-round & successful weight gain in the weaning pens.

After a year of Zoetis, the claims seem to hold true. Especially with the efficacy of the Dectomax. With a weight gain of over 20 pounds on his steers and over 15 pounds for his heifers year-on-year, Vic was happy with the outcome.

Will Vic use Dectomax/INFORCE3 again next year?

“Well, I guess the only real way to see if the claims are true is to run it two years in a row. I’ll give Dectomax another year, and if I’m heavier again over this year and this new pasture—then you’ve got me on board for good.”

We’ll check back in with Vic after calving, but in general, at the close of the Anderson Experiment—Zoetis cattle health products seem to have stood up to their claims when put to the test on a working Montana ranch.

If you want to start at the beginning of this journey, click here, and get behind the scenes on day one.


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He has sired two young squires, Ranimyr Heston and Wager Cash. Writing about North 40 Outfitters' employees and customers... who always seem to be doing something remarkable... is his inspiration to try new things. Like fly fishing, like gardening, like wood working, like fencing w/ trellises, like...

One thought on “Zoetis And Dectomax Review: What A Herd Looks Like After One Year”

  • […] We spent all day branding with Vic on his ranch and helped to administer INFORCE 3. At the end of the day all of the newly branded and vaccinated calves were in healthy condition. It is worth mentioning that we did have two of the smaller calves act lethargic after administering the INFORCE 3, however, they did rebound and eventually returned to the herd. Read the final installment of this experiment here. […]

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