Preconditioning - Not Just About Vaccinations

US - Preconditioning, by definition, is a vaccination, nutrition, and management program designed to prepare young cattle to withstand the stress associated with weaning and shipment to a backgrounding yard or feedlot. It is unfortunate that pre-conditioning is a term that has been loosely applied in the beef industry.
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The lack of standardization has led to confusion, and in some cases abuses, by owners, buyers, and veterinarians. Part of the problem lies in a lack of communication between the buyer and seller. For any pre-conditioning program to be effective, the seller must communicate to the buyer what program was followed.

The objective of a preconditioning program is to prepare the calf for entry into a backgrounding yard or feedlot. This is accomplished by exposing the calf to the stresses of weaning, vaccination, and other common processing procedures (castration, dehorning, treatment with systemic parasiticides, and implanting) well in advance of its entry into the backgrounding yard or the feedlot.

Preconditioning vaccinations, nutrition, and parasite control are three areas which can help prevent or reduce problems with morbidity and mortality in the backgrounding yard or feedlot.

Vaccinations alone do not constitute a preconditioning program. A beef cattle producer should develop a preconditioning program which en-compasses vaccination, nutrition, weaning, and other management items which are essential for the success of any preconditioning program. Here are some suggestions and guidelines producers should follow for a successful preconditioning program.

Bovine Respiratory Disease

The main cause of illness in freshly weaned calves is the tremendous exposure to infectious agents and stress associated with weaning, commingling, and transportation.

When compared to other ages and classes of cattle, newly weaned beef calves and stocker calves have the highest levels of morbidity (sickness) and mortality (death). Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) accounts for a significant portion of cattle/calf losses in the beef industry. In one study, more than 30 percent of these death losses were attributable to BRD.

Source: The Prairie Star
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