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August 28, 2017

Preconditioning Calves – Setting a Foundation

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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.

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

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 calves off, within a day or two of birth, with a Multi-Mineral shot and an ear tag.  Within a couple 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.

Nutrition becomes a large part of your profitability.  Our calves are placed on a creep feed as early as 2 months.  It’s not only good for the calf, but the dam as well.  Placing less stress and better gain at the time of weaning provides a good foundation for the calf.

Keeping good records supporting your program is beneficial 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?

Kristen Evans, Marketing Assistant for Cattlesoft, Inc.