Getting More From Calves
Cattle producers hope to get the highest price possible when selling their calf crop, but they are taking the steps needed to get that price?
According to the University of Missouri Extension, the implementation of a vaccination program (unless cattle are marketed as organic or all-natural) can help keep calves healthy, thus allowing calves to grow and thrive, and bring more at sale time.
According to MU, the timing of vaccination is also important for achieving an adequate immune response. Many cow/calf producers will vaccinate with 7-way Clostridial (Blackleg) vaccine between 1 to 3 months of age.
Although the calves are too young to mount a good immune response, this dose of vaccine will initiate the immune process.
Administering vaccines during stressful periods, such as during weaning, reduces the ability of the animal’s immune system to properly respond to the vaccine, resulting in poor protection. Vaccination programs often recommend administering the respiratory disease vaccines two to four weeks prior to weaning, then again at weaning. Administering the vaccine prior to weaning gives calves time to respond to the vaccine, and the calves are under less stress because they are still with the cows.
According to information from the University of Arkansas Extension, producers should delay working and giving booster vaccinations to calves until the stress of weaning is over, and calves are eating and drinking well.
Cattle should also be treated for any internal and external parasites. Some producers also choose to implant their calves at this time.
“Growth implants add value to the animal primarily by improving the potential for an animal to weigh more; thus, typically increasing the total value of the animal,” Dan Childs, senior agricultural economist of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Okla., told OFN.
If not done prior to weaning, calves should be dehorned and castrated at this time. Failure to do so, could result in calves being docked at the sale barn.
“All these practices have the potential to improve the price of the animal. The practices must be completed far enough in advance to ensure the animal is healed from the procedure(s),” Childs said.
While following basic animal health protocols can help producers get a higher price on sale day, they can take the practice a step further by participating in special pre-vaccination programs. While such program have the potential to bring a higher price, there are specific practices that must be adhered to prior to the sale.
“Generally, for animals to qualify for the special offerings, they must be certified by a third party to have certain attributes, such as but not limited to being weaned for a minimum number of days; males neutered and completely healed; no horns and completely healed if dehorned; received application for internal and external parasites; being immunized for certain diseases with an approved protocol; and trained to eat and drink from a trough,” Childs said. “Animals sold through the special offerings typically bring a higher price per pound than similar weight animals with no known or certifiable attributes.”