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  • Jin Gan

4 Reasons for Preconditioning Calves

4 Reasons for Preconditioning Calves

When cattle price is good, some farmers would opt to capitalise on the prices as soon as they can. With that being said, could that be the most profitable path? Could waiting for a few more months increase the profitability?

Preconditioning the calves could be an alternative that would add value to the farm regardless if those cattle are staying on the farm or moving into a stocker or feedlot scenario. Producers that opt for preconditioning program may receive higher premium in the long run.

Having preconditioned cattle which usually includes vaccination, nutritional and management program to help the animals through stressful period can be a lucrative investment that have a big payoff down the road.

Here are 4 reasons for preconditioning calves:

1) Improved calf health

During weaning, can be a very stressful period for the calves. Stress will often cause the animals to be more susceptible to disease, which may eventually lead to death.

Preconditioned calves with a proper vaccination program and fed with high quality nutrition will be better at adapting during such period of stress. By investing in the health of animals with preconditioning, potentially less treatment cost is needed, thus saving money for the farm.

2) Increase feed efficiency and gain in calf weight

By delaying the sale of cattle through preconditioning program (typically 45 days or more), the weight of the animal is definitely heavier as compared to to calves that are sold at weaning. Studies have also showed that the feed efficiency for calves that gone through preconditioning program is higher.

It has been shown that preconditioning can add up to $60 per head to the value of heifers to the initial weaning weight.

3) Market timing

Preconditioning calves may provide the opportunity to sell the calves at a favourable time. Usually, spring-born calves are weaned in October and sold during that month. Calves that are preconditioned and marketed 45 days later are usually sold around November to December. Seasonal price shows that it may be more profitable to sell the calves end of the year.

4) Additional premium

Even though preconditioning calves require additional costs such as vaccination and nutrition, studies showed that preconditioning may help increase the value up to $50 - $75 per head. Regardless if the calves are kept for further developments or to be sold off in the market, the added value translate to additional profit to the farm.

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