Don’t just sell preconditioned calves, market them

12:00AM Jul 21, 2008
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Does preconditioning pay?

Data gathered and analyzed by Iowa State University Extension shows that the market value for calves with third-party certification claims that also were weaned for at least 30 days received premiums of $6.15 per hundredweight over the base. Calves with uncertified claims of vaccinations and at least 30 days weaning received $3.40 per hundredweight over the base. Calves with only a vaccination claim received $2.42 over the base.
Bulut H, Lawrence JD, Martin RE. The value of third-party certification claims at Iowa's feeder cattle auctions. Iowa State University Extension. September 2006.

Extracting the most profit from a value-added product, such as a veterinarian-certified preconditioned calf, requires a little thought in marketing.

"Calves that have been through a proven, third-party certified preconditioning program can bring producers significant bonuses on sale day,” says Dr. Van Ricketts, Director of Corporate Accounts, Merial. "But producers may leave a lot of money on the table if they don't take the steps to market their cattle properly.”

Preconditioned calves can mean different things to different people. For some, it means calves have received one round of vaccinations; for others, it means calves have gone through rigorous health protocols, such as multiple vaccinations, deworming, weaning and other best management practices.

Dr. Ricketts recommends taking the following measures to help market preconditioned calves:

  • Sell at advertised specialty sales featuring calves managed in a similar fashion. These sales attract buyers who recognize the value of the program used.
  • If a specialty sale isn't available, make sure the auctioneer and buyers are aware of program protocols. Be sure to highlight top program features such as veterinarian certification.
  • Don't forget to outline protocols when selling private-treaty, because healthy calves that perform are valuable to all buyers.
  • If selling to a repeat customer, leverage past successes in feedyard performance to command larger premiums