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The Midwest Cattleman · August 20, 2020 · P9
      Adding Preconditioning

      to your Marketing Plan                                                                                 By Eric Bailey, Assistant Professor, State
                                                                                                             Beef Extension Specialist, University of

         Weaning is a challenging  and the packing plant. Here are
      time for cattle and their own- a couple of important details to
      ers. Our management deci- note. All calves were dehorned,
      sions affect calves’ response to  and steer calves were castrat-
      stress, which is a contributing  ed before 60 days old. We sim-
      factor to illness.                 ulated marketing stress in all
         Bovine  respiratory  disease  experiments  by transporting
      (BRD) is the costliest illness  calves to a commercial auction
      affecting feedlots in the U.S.  market  and  holding  them  on
      Despite many efforts to reduce  the premises for 14 hours at
      BRD, about 16% of calves en- the end of the preconditioning
      tering feedlots are diagnosed  phase.
      with BRD.                             •Length of preconditioning
         The concept of precondition- period: Preconditioning pro-
      ing calves on the farm or ranch  grams are commonly recom-
      of origin has been advocated  mended to be 30 to 60 days in
      throughout the beef industry  length. While extended precon-
      for the past 50 years. Stan- ditioning periods may support
      dard elements of precondition- greater weight gain and larger
      ing programs include weaning  calves for sale, costs are also
      and retaining calves for 30 to  increased. In 2007, 433 calves        inarian and am not trying to  est increase in BRD and drug
      60 days, a vaccination program  were weaned at convention-            promote a specific vaccination  therapy costs during precondi-
      and  deworming.  Precondition- al ages and preconditioned             for weaned calves.  We vacci- tioning  when  calves  were  not
      ing has been marketed as a  zero, 15, 30, 45 or 60 days on            nated calves zero, one, two, or  vaccinated. However, we ob-
      means of reducing feedlot mor- the ranch of origin before ship-       three times during precondi- served no differences in feed-
      bidity and mortality. However,  ment to the feedlot. All calves       tioning with a modified-live  lot morbidity among various
      data from the National Animal  were shipped to the feedlot on         product designed to protect  vaccination protocols. Feedlot
      Health Monitoring Service re- a common date; thus, weaning            against  viral  BRD-causing
      port that 50% of calves are  date differed in each treat-             pathogens.  There  was  a  mod-                 continued on page 26
      marketed  immediately follow- ment.
      ing weaning. Why do more cat-         Calves were weaned at ap-
      tlemen not precondition calves  proximately 190 days old. Mor-
      before sale?                       bidity during receiving was 2.2
         Two factors will limit the  times more frequent among
      implementation of precondi- non-preconditioned               calves
      tioning practices. Many small      than preconditioned calves.
      farms and ranches lack the  There were no differences in
      facilities  to  house  calves  and  feedlot morbidity as precondi-
      cows separately. Second, the op- tioning length increased from
      erations lacking pre-weaning  15 to 60 days, suggesting that
      calf management are likely to  calves benefit from ranch-of-or-                                         COMPRESSION
      struggle to implement precon- igin preconditioning periods as                WEE
      ditioning. I consider precondi- short as 15 days.                                EARLY                     ANALGESIA
      tioning the pinnacle of cow-calf      Weaning calves two weeks               CASTRATION
      production. Operations lacking  before selling may benefit the               Tensioned Loop
      a defined breeding season are  calves but is not going to gener-              for Newborns
      likely to struggle with precon- ate premiums at auction or be                                               SMART
      ditioning. Another indicator is  enough time for calves to gain
      not castrating bull calves be- weight. Research by Dr. Mark                                                       DELAYED
      fore weaning or implementing  Hilton from Purdue demon-                                                         CASTRATION
                                                                                                                        Since 1991
      a vaccine program. If increas- strated that two-thirds of
      ing the value of your calves  profit in preconditioned calves                       PRO
      is a priority, ask first if your  was earned from an additional                       DELAYED
      pre-weaning management is  pound of calf sold. In his data-                         CASTRATION
      aligned with current recom- set, calves were preconditioned                          Built-in Cutter
      mendations.                        for 11 years from a single farm.                Self-locking Loop
         If you are preconditioning  The calves gained little weight
      calves or are interested in im- during the first two weeks
      plementing it, here are some  after weaning. Extended pre-
      recommendations based on  conditioning periods may be
      my Ph.D. research. We weaned  necessary for producers who do                                                        Made In USA
      3,000 calves across seven ex- not retain ownership of calves
      periments, tracking their per- in the feedlot.
      formance  through  weaning,           •Vaccination protocols: First,    800-858-5974
      preconditioning, the feedlot  a disclaimer. I am not a veter-
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