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Preconditioning ─ A Win For Buyers And Sellers

Calf preconditioning benefits extend beyond sale day

It’s well-documented that calf preconditioning programs can help cow/calf producers boost their profitability on sale day — even to the tune of an extra $6.38 per cwt.1 Adding icing to the cake, calf preconditioning also has been shown to positively affect feeder calf performance.

“Preconditioning sets calves up to be more successful in the feedlot, which means the benefits stretch beyond a bigger check for the cow/calf producer,” says Gerald Stokka, DVM, Veterinary Operations, Pfizer Animal Health. “Successful preconditioning helps promote calf growth, enhances immune function and helps minimize stress, all of which lead to higher performance and profitability.”

This improved performance starts with a demonstrated health program that prepares the calf to combat the stresses of weaning.

“It’s important producers follow a program that includes all of the pieces needed to prepare a calf’s immune system for the challenges ahead,” Dr. Stokka says. “By using a well-researched, demonstrated program like SelectVAC®, producers can take the guesswork out of selecting products and health programs. It’s packaged up for the producer and their veterinarian, but the beauty of a program like SelectVAC is that they can still be tailored for their individual needs.”

Part of the value of preconditioning programs comes from the additional required practices such as dehorning, castration and water and feedbunk training. Dr. Stokka says these all help calves hit the ground running at the feedlot.

“Research has shown that when compared with calves with unknown health histories, calves that came from a documented preconditioning program gained 36 pounds more in the first 85 days on feed; took fewer days to reach the desired end point; were four times less likely to get sick; had more favorable quality and yield grades and overall returned $33.71 more net income per calf,”2 he says. “It’s easy to see why buyers are willing to pay more for calves that go through a documented preconditioning program.”

Known and trusted by buyers, SelectVAC is not only the largest calf preconditioning program in the nation, it also includes diverse designations with demonstrated programs to keep calves, stockers, heifers and whole herds healthy, productive and worth more in the pasture or on sale day.

“Regardless of the program used, calf preconditioning puts both buyers and sellers a step ahead,” Dr. Stokka says.

1 King ME. 2010. The effects of health and management programs on the sale price of beef calves marketed through eight Superior Livestock video auctions in 2010. Final Report, Pfizer Inc.

2 Seeger JT, Grotelueschen DM, Stokka GL, et al. Comparison of the feedlot health, nutritional performance, carcass characteristics, and economic value of unweaned beef calves with an unknown health history and of weaned beef calves receiving various herd-of-origin health protocols. Bov Pract 2008;42(1):1-13.