A Strong Finishing Program Starts with Quality Calves

For cattle feeders, knowing where your cattle were born and how they've been treated since day one is invaluable to profitability and producing a quality product. This information gives cattle feeders the ability to make informed decisions when organizing vaccination protocols for calves arriving at the feedyard.

Cattle that undergo a preconditioning program, such as PrimeVAC™, arrive at a feedyard having already received carefully timed vaccinations for key health concerns. Preconditioned calves come to the feedyard with a head start, as they have already built a protective level of immunity at the ranch. This can take a big weight off of a cattle feeder's shoulders.

Kevin Hill, D.V.M., with Merck Animal Health, says, “By successfully controlling illness, cattle feeders can realize the full growth and profit potential from the calves they receive. Typically, preconditioned calves gain better, convert feed better and have lower rates of morbidity and mortality. That’s something every cattle feeder can be happy about.”

According to a research review from Oklahoma State University (2014), a group of preconditioned calves, such as those on a PrimeVAC program, can experience about a 0.5 percent death loss, as compared to a 2.61 percent death loss with a non-preconditioned group of cattle. Additionally, the morbidity rates of preconditioned calves were one-third of those in non-preconditioned calves.

Since preconditioned calves perform so well at the feedyard, cow calf producers who utilize an aggressive preconditioning program can see significant dividends at the market. According to data from Superior Livestock, preconditioned calves receive as much as $50 more per head when compared to calves without preconditioning verification.

When selecting a preconditioning program, Dr. Hill says it should include specific guidelines that producers can use – working with their veterinarian – to construct a customized vaccination program to meet the unique needs of their operation. The veterinarian will have the most relevant information about the disease status in the cow herd, the region of origin and the feedyard destination.
"A preconditioning program is not just about giving calves a vaccine, it’s about building protective immunity by using the right products at the right time.” 
Dr. Hill 
Additionally, Dr. Hill suggests working with a veterinarian to choose a comprehensive preconditioning program that covers key areas of long-term cattle health. “PrimeVAC includes guidelines for vaccination protocols, parasite control and growth implants,” says Dr. Hill. “The idea of this preconditioning program is to maximize the health and performance of cattle for their lifetime. A preconditioning program is not just about giving calves a vaccine, it’s about building protective immunity by using the right products at the right time.”

Dealing with a potential wreck from high-risk calves is something that most cattlemen can’t afford at the feedyard. Genetics and good management are what enable a calf to reach the best growth potential. Dr. Hill says part of that management includes a good preconditioning program for building strong immunity before weaning and shipping to their feedyard destination. “These calves will go on feed quickly and will keep performing at a high level throughout the feeding period,” says Dr. Hill.
For more information on PrimeVAC, visit cattleprimevac.com or download the brochure here