Beef Magazine is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Don’t Leave Extra Weaning Weights on the Table — Implant This Year’s Calf Crop

Calving season is here and now is the time for all producers to be thinking about getting the largest return on investment. For cow/calf producers in particular, an extra 19 pounds of weight at weaning, which can be achieved by implanting sucking calves, far outweighs the actual cost of the implant. 1

“One implant at branding, at approximately 45 days of age, is usually sufficient up until weaning,” says Gary Sides, Ph.D., nutritionist, Pfizer Animal Health. “When producers are planning for this year’s calf crop, they should plan to take advantage of the additional pounds that implants can bring to the table. Plan to wean an extra 19 pounds, giving you at least $25 more per implanted calf when sold in the fall.”

For most operations, the timing for implanting suckling calves aligns well with several other critical processes. Management practices can include branding, ear-tagging, deworming, vaccination, dehorning and castration at the time of administering implants. Proper nutritional programs, parasite control (both internal and external), and implant strategies are all additive and continue to improve health and weaning weights of our calf crop. If you are unsure about using the implants correctly, or to ensure that your implants will produce optimum results talk to your veterinarian or have a professional Pfizer Animal Health representative guide you through the simple and easy-to-learn implanting process.

Producers still can realize additional gains even if they aren’t sure which heifers are going to be kept back as replacements. Research has shown that a suckling calf implant administered to heifers between 45 days and 3 months of age has little to no effect on reproductive performance as long as nutrition remains adequate.3

“It is difficult to be sure which heifer calves will be kept as replacements at 45 days of age,” Dr. Sides says. “You may implant your entire calf crop because there are no negative impacts on heifer reproduction, subsequent grade or feedlot performance.”

Recent pricing studies indicate there is no added bonus paid for calves that do not receive implants. Based on 2009 data, very few producers received a premium when they did not implant their calves. In fact, on average there was no difference in prices paid per pound for non-implanted vs. implanted calves.5

“In today’s market, producers are realizing over a 20-1 return on investment from using implants,” Dr. Sides says. “Look at it this way — one SYNOVEX C implant pays the beef checkoff for about 25 additional cattle.”

Any producer who wants to improve weaning weight can benefit from implanting calves. Consulting a nutritionist to evaluate your herd’s current nutritional program and cow body condition will help ensure that your calf crop gets the most benefit from implanting.

“Watching your bottom line can tell you exactly what the extra 19 pounds weaning weight will mean in dollars,” Dr. Sides says. “Implants are one of the most profitable tools cow/calf producers have available to them.”2

1 Data on file, Pfizer Animal Health. FDP249.

2 Lawrence JD and Ibarburu MA. Economic analysis of pharmaceutical technologies in modern beef production. Conference on Applied Commodity Price Analysis, Forecasting, and Market Risk Management, April 16-17, 2007, Chicago, Ill. Available at: Accessed March 30, 2010.

3 McCollum FT. Implanting beef calves and stocker cattle L-2291, 4-98. AgriLife Extension, the Texas A&M University System. Available at: Accessed March 22, 2010.

4 SYNOVEX C product label.

5 Superior Livestock Video sales records.