Calf preconditioning programs can boost value to the animal when it’s sold, or even if it’s retained through improved 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. Work with your veterinarian to select a program that works for your operation.
Part of the value of preconditioning programs comes from the additional required practices such as dehorning, castration and water and feed bunk 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 lbs. 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,” he says. “