Healthy Calves Pay Big Dividends

US - Among all of the management practices that cattle producers complete, keeping calves healthy and eating well offers the biggest return on investment.
calendar icon 30 December 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

Healthy and aggressive-to-the-feed-bunk beef cattle increase in value throughout the feeding process - from the cow/calf operation, to the backgrounding site, to the feedlot.

“If I had a chance to buy one of two calves - one was on a high stress, poor nutrition plane, but I could buy the best vaccine; or I could buy the other calf that experienced low stress and had the best nutritional program, I’m going to buy the one with the nutrition program,” said George Droogsma, representative for Boehringer Ingelheim.

“Ideally, I’ll have a solid nutrition plane, and I’ll have a quality backgrounding programme.”

Mr Droogsma, plus two veterinarians recently spoke at the University of Minnesota Cattle Feeder meeting held in Morris.

Their main subject was assuring success for receiving calves into the feedlot, but they also spoke on what cow/calf producers can do to help their calves thrive throughout the feedlot process.

The panel said that de-worming calves and getting them started on creep feed are two important tasks the cow/calf producer can complete.

“Calves that are nice and filled out with good hair coats have had a good nutrition program prior to weaning,” said Dr. Kathleen Head, DVM with H & H Veterinary Service of Benson, Minn.

Preconditioning adds value to a calf, said Dr. Aaron Rokey, DVM with the Morris Vet Center.

“Getting a vaccination into them prior to weaning, using parasite control, and then adapting them to bunk feeding is worth quite a bit,” Rokey said. “There are programs where you can get a little bit of a premium for doing that.”

Droogsma encourages communication between the cow operator and the feedlot operator.

“I will go ask the customer - the feedlot - what they are looking for in calves,” he said.

Keeping the calving and shelter facilities clean also benefits feedlot operations. Removing manure or nasal secretions from waterers and feed bunks helps promote good health. Keeping cattle away from enclosed facilities is also important to maintain control over mycoplasma pneumonia.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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