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Vet’s Voice: Maximize profits at calf marketing time

Fall is rapidly approaching. That means it will soon be time to wean calves. Although it has been hot this summer, we have at least had enough rain to provide adequate grass. This in turn provides ample feed to precondition calves, adding value before marketing.

Most producers have used vaccinations to add value to their calves. Because most producers are utilizing vaccinations, calves are now discounted when not vaccinated. Last year this discount averaged $7 per hundredweight. These dollars will more than finance a complete vaccination program.

In our area we generally experience bouts of summer pneumonia. Many years ago most producers merely vaccinated with “blackleg vaccine” before turnout or branding. Most have now added “pasteurella” for more protection. This spring we also used a new intra-nasal vaccine in some problem herds. Other herds continue to use injectable 5-way viral vaccines for added protection. These late spring or early summer vaccinations should be boostered in the fall.



In late summer, or about two weeks before weaning, we recommend producers booster calves’ vaccinations. The earlier vaccinations have energized or primed the calf’s immune system. To ensure a good response to vaccines, the calf should be on a good nutritional program, especially minerals. Selenium, copper, zinc and manganese are important in the formation of antibodies in the calf.

Once the calf has responded to the booster vaccination it can be weaned. Most of these young calves are capable of gaining at least 2 pounds per day. Producers, along with a nutritionist, can formulate rations which allow these gains at the lowest cost. One of my clients calculated that it would cost him $1.70 a day to maintain a calf; at the $1.50 per hundredweight calf market, it’s possible to generate $1 per day for preconditioning calves.



For years feedlots have claimed to pay more for non-implanted calves. The two reasons this occurs are:

1. Feedlots get compensatory gain when they implant non-implanted calves.

2. When implanted calves are re-implanted at the feedyard, if the previous implant is not near the end of its effectiveness, the overlap of the two implants cause bulling and other problems.

This year implants will return $40-$50 for the dollar invested. When planning a marketing day, be sure the implant you use is near the end of its effectiveness by that date to avoid interference with a feedlot’s implant strategy.

With increased calf prices this year net returns for preconditioning will be high. In 2010 the net return was $120.96 per head, while in 2009 it was $58.11 per head. Consult with a veterinarian about the best vaccination program for your herd in order to attain maximum health while using the proper implant strategy and timing to fit your operation. A nutritionist can formulate least cost rations so calves can reach their genetic potential for at least 2 pounds of gain per day. Careful planning will ensure you receive all the dollars available at market time. Don’t leave dollars on the table; maximize your profits.

Fall is rapidly approaching. That means it will soon be time to wean calves. Although it has been hot this summer, we have at least had enough rain to provide adequate grass. This in turn provides ample feed to precondition calves, adding value before marketing.

Most producers have used vaccinations to add value to their calves. Because most producers are utilizing vaccinations, calves are now discounted when not vaccinated. Last year this discount averaged $7 per hundredweight. These dollars will more than finance a complete vaccination program.

In our area we generally experience bouts of summer pneumonia. Many years ago most producers merely vaccinated with “blackleg vaccine” before turnout or branding. Most have now added “pasteurella” for more protection. This spring we also used a new intra-nasal vaccine in some problem herds. Other herds continue to use injectable 5-way viral vaccines for added protection. These late spring or early summer vaccinations should be boostered in the fall.

In late summer, or about two weeks before weaning, we recommend producers booster calves’ vaccinations. The earlier vaccinations have energized or primed the calf’s immune system. To ensure a good response to vaccines, the calf should be on a good nutritional program, especially minerals. Selenium, copper, zinc and manganese are important in the formation of antibodies in the calf.

Once the calf has responded to the booster vaccination it can be weaned. Most of these young calves are capable of gaining at least 2 pounds per day. Producers, along with a nutritionist, can formulate rations which allow these gains at the lowest cost. One of my clients calculated that it would cost him $1.70 a day to maintain a calf; at the $1.50 per hundredweight calf market, it’s possible to generate $1 per day for preconditioning calves.

For years feedlots have claimed to pay more for non-implanted calves. The two reasons this occurs are:

1. Feedlots get compensatory gain when they implant non-implanted calves.

2. When implanted calves are re-implanted at the feedyard, if the previous implant is not near the end of its effectiveness, the overlap of the two implants cause bulling and other problems.

This year implants will return $40-$50 for the dollar invested. When planning a marketing day, be sure the implant you use is near the end of its effectiveness by that date to avoid interference with a feedlot’s implant strategy.

With increased calf prices this year net returns for preconditioning will be high. In 2010 the net return was $120.96 per head, while in 2009 it was $58.11 per head. Consult with a veterinarian about the best vaccination program for your herd in order to attain maximum health while using the proper implant strategy and timing to fit your operation. A nutritionist can formulate least cost rations so calves can reach their genetic potential for at least 2 pounds of gain per day. Careful planning will ensure you receive all the dollars available at market time. Don’t leave dollars on the table; maximize your profits.


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