Get started now, add value on sale day

Nov 11, 2008
Get started now, add value on sale day

Times are tough every where, and the beef indus try—in every segment—is feeling the squeeze. How ever, now is not the time for producers to cut down on sound animal health prac tices such as vaccination programs and parasite con trol. Instead, as feed yards become increasingly cau tious with their purchases, it is more important than ever that cow/calf producers do everything possible to add value and marketability to their calves.

One of the quickest—and most thoroughly researched and documented—ways to add value is to register calves in a preconditioning program that is nationally recognized and veterinari an-certified.

And it is impor tant that producers plan ahead to receive the full ben efits of using a precondition ing program. “Preconditioning helps calves manage the stress of weaning and transport to stay healthy,” says Dr. Van Ricketts, director of Corpo rate Accounts, Merial. “But it is essential that produc ers start planning now, be fore it is time to wean spring calves.”

Many producers find they are already following most of the best management practices that precondition ing requires, so making the transition is easy. The steps required to enroll calves in a preconditioning program include: Talk to your veteri narian or animal health supplier to help you put a plan in place; Two to four weeks prior to weaning, treat calves for parasites and vaccinate against viral respiratory infection and clostridial infection; At weaning, revaccinate for viral respiratory infection and clostridial infection, and vaccinate for bacterial respi ratory infection.

Castrate calves; Dehorn or tip horn buds; Wean calves for 45 days; Make sure calves are adjusted to feedbunks and water tanks; Have your local veterinarian certify that the protocols were followed as outlined by the program.

It is this third-party certi fication of the practices that helps producers get reward ed for following proven pre conditioning protocols. Re cently, an Iowa State Uni versity study found that preconditioned calves with out third-party certification showed a $3.40 per cwt. ad vantage over calves without preconditioning. But when third-party certification was part of the package, that advantage shot up to $6.15 per cwt. That means the producer selling those 50 calves weighing 500 pounds could make an additional $1,537.50 over base. Market research confirms that nine out of 10 feed yard managers prefer precondi tioning with verification, so calves that have it consis tently create the greatest demand at auction. Ricketts says even though many cow/ calf producers already follow most of the preconditioning steps, verifying it with a third party is the only way to prove it to buyers and help make certain to get paid for those practices.

There is just one precon ditioning program that is both veterinarian-certified and nationwide—the Me rial Surehealth Calf Pre conditioning Program— and the program’s protocols are simple. By following the steps outlined above, choosing an IVOMEC (ivermec tin) Brand Product for parasites and using RE- SPISHIELD HM for bacte rial respiratory protection, producers can make their calves eligible. Once calves are ready for market, Rick etts says it is important to make sure buyers know that the Surehealth proto cols were followed.

“That’s when the name recognition of using a na tionwide program really pays off,” he says. “Using a program that is well known helps producers take the next step from saying the calves have had all their shots to really add marketability and value to their program.”

Producers work all year long to make this one sale. When the day comes, they can help make sure they get paid for their efforts by of fering calves that are healthy and guaranteed to stay that way. However, they have to get started in the summer months by planning ahead.

“Third-party-verified preconditioning offers cow/ calf producers a great op portunity to develop a rep utation for their calves in a business where reputation matters,” Ricketts says. “That’s what brings top dol lar and repeat buyers year after year. And the proto cols are simple to follow and, in most cases, involve only a minor adjustment from the best management practices producers are al ready using. So get started today by talking to your local veterinarian or Merial sales representative.”

For more information, contact your local Merial sales representative or visit www.SUREHEALTH. com. — WLJ