preconditioning calves

Now a day’s feedlot and grass calf buyers are wanting calves that are ready to finish – no extra work needed.  More up-front work leads to less stress when the calf is weaned and sold – and a good premium in my pocket. Preconditioning calves sets a good foundation to accomplish these goals.

Setting up a good preconditioning plan is a fail-safe way to help your calves bring top dollar at your local auction.  

Getting started

Let’s start from the beginning; genetics.  Genetics have a part in the weight and overall gain of the animal – pick a bull that will work for your herd.

Secondly, focus on health – get the calf’s immune system ready for whatever it might encounter. Start with a good regimen or protocol of vaccinations and keep track of what, when, and how it was administered.  

We start our preconditioning calves off, within a day or two of birth, with a Multi-Mineral shot and an ear tag.  Within a couple of months, we will follow up with a series of vaccinations set by our preconditioning program.  Our program is set by baseline vaccinations (BVD, etc.) and regional vaccinations (pink eye, blackleg, etc.).  At weaning, the calves get their final set of shots, banding (for bull calves), and weight recorded.  This is the most influential time for the calf; keeping a watchful eye for stress or infection is key.

Contininuing with your preconditioning calves

Nutrition becomes a large part of your profitability.  Our preconditioning calves are placed on a creep feed as early as two months.  It’s not only good for the calf but the dam as well.  Placing less stress and better gain during weaning provides a good foundation for the calf.

Keeping good records supporting your program is beneficial to you and your buyers.  Each vaccination is recorded, along with dates, weaning information, and weights.  I use CattleMax to record this data and provide it at delivery or sale. I’ve found it’s the easy way to record, track, and share this critical information.

What is your preconditioning program?