Preconditioning Could Help Calf Profitability

Cow/calf producers need to explore every possible way to add value.

A 2007 survey of Oklahoma livestock markets conducted by Oklahoma State University revealed that only 11.9% of the calves sold through the surveyed markets were considered preconditioned or value-added.  Because of the economy many market watchers believe cow/calf producers face stagnant to lower markets this fall and potentially slimmer profit margins. So having preconditioned calves now can be a financial advantage in the near future.


Dr. Frank Hurtig, director for Veterinary Services for Merial, says cow/calf producers need to start exploring every possible avenue for adding value to their calves and bottom line. Hurtig adds since feedyards will likely be feeding fewer cattle than most years buyers are more likely to be picky on sale day. That potentially gives producers who follow a preconditioning program an edge.


Preconditioning programs are designed to help reduce stress for calves at weaning and improve their immune systems, which helps them to perform better post-weaning. Dr. Jeremy Powell, professor of Animal Sciences at the University of Arkansas, says if buyers can spend about $20 more per head and as a result save $75 in medical expenses and performance losses because calves stay healthy they'll do it.

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